I was reading a book called Thinking Fast and Slow by Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics laureate Daniel Kahneman, and came across a reference to how our brain works from an instinct perspective. He referenced to how when we are driving on the highway we can detect if someone in the car next to us might be dangerous, and how we will instinctively maneuver away from them. This same concept can apply in many scenarios, and it happens frequently to each of us every day without thinking about it. The point is we all have a natural ability to apply our instincts to help keep us safe and to detect and make decisions based on our internal feelings “compass”.
My last blog article called “Who’s Real, and Who’s Faking it?” talked about using your instincts to detect whether someone is authentically representing themselves and how you can utilize your internal “bullshit” meter to detect if they are “real”. People who come across as overly confident are often “bullshit” artists, but sometimes they are so smooth in the delivery of their information, you may be mesmerized by what they are telling you and accept the information and them as being legitimate. My reference to the “bullshit meter” is similar to how you can engage your ability to tap into your instincts too, but you need to practice doing so to become comfortable with this powerful tool.
Since there are limited if not zero courses to help people with developing their instincts to help them, particularly in the business world, the next best way to hone your instincts is to practice relying upon them. I can guarantee you will be intimidated by relying on your instincts 100%, but “test driving” your instincts in many different instances is really the only way to become proficient at leveraging how powerful this innate tool is. I remember the first time someone called me out for not trusting my instincts. I was surprised by how they knew I did not trust my instincts and instead made a different decision. In this particular case, I did not trust my instincts about hiring a person, and hired them even though my instincts were telling me not to do so.
Fast forward to about 2-4 weeks from the first day the person was hired on my team, and I could clearly see I made my first hiring mistake. There were others on the team who really wanted this person to join the team, but I had many reservations which were mainly driven by my instincts, and I chose to ignore them. Big mistake, as the person turned out to be a theft, have a well-hidden police record buried deep in a Google search, and caused mayhem within the organization for several months until they were arrested by the police. Can you say “drama”? It was more than I had bargained for, and it is clear now I should have listened to my instincts and not have hired this individual.
Justin Fox wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review called “Instinct Can Beat Analytical Thinking” . I love this title, but the article itself gets pretty deep into what are referred to as heuristics, and really geeks-out about this particular theory based concept on instincts. I’ll spare you the gory details, and provide you with the quick summary on what this means. Essentially the concept of heuristics is about “rules of thumb”, or gut instincts which do not rely upon math or statistics to come to an answer. The theory suggests other decision making shortcuts which leverage a person’s experience can lead to making better decisions than relying upon scientific modeling. Sorry, but this is the least “geeky” version I can come up with on a Friday afternoon.
Essentially what I am suggesting from my years of experience of making business and life decisions is to start with having your decisions based on relying upon your own gut instincts. Before you take off the proverbial “training wheels” and rely 100% on your intuition, I can recommend you make your future gut decisions with a small dose of advice sprinkled in from another person you trust and know has a solid history of making sound decisions. Let me know how well your instincts are working for you, as I always enjoy hearing from my followers.
Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at firstname.lastname@example.org.