October 17, 2021

Trusting Our Gut

We've heard it a thousand times. You're in a situation, you aren't sure what to do, and some self-proclaimed wise person tells you to trust your gut. But is it really that simple? 

Human intuition is powerful and can potentially be dangerous. I think I'm of sound mind and my ideas are right and so do you. But we may think completely different. So who's right? Both of us? Neither of us? That's the tough question. 

Intuition and Facts 

The Harvard Business Review published an article in 2003 entitled Don't Trust Your Gut

In the piece, the author Eric Bonabeau wrote; "One decision-making tool - human intuition - seems to offer a reliable alternative to painstaking fact gathering and analysis. Encouraged by scientific research on intuition, top managers feel increasingly confident that, when faced with complicated choices, they can just trust their gut." 

Science Based Wisdom 

Bonabeau goes on to state; "Anyone who thinks that intuition is a substitute for reason is indulging in a risky delusion." So when we trust our gut, experience, or intuition, are we doing it void of scientific realities or known facts? Or are we looking at those facts and making a judgement call through our lens and experience? Perhaps a mix of both. 

When you think of something you tried for the first time in your career. Perhaps a new gig or new department; maybe it was a new concept or project. Did you go blindly into the abyss ignoring all facts in front of your or did you measure what you could then made a judgement call on the direction? 

Dreamers and Billionaires 

We look at people like Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, and Jeff Bezos and call them visionaries. But I'm of the mind to suggest they didn't create an electric car company, rocket corporation, media empire, and online shopping conglomerate in a vacuum without facts and realities. I agree with Bonabeau that we can't just fly off the handle in the face of contradictory facts and trust our gut. But our intuition gets at least a vote. 

If you want to test your gut, asking others for their opinions may just add their gut into the mix and then you may be even further from a successful solution. But as President Regan famously stated, trust but verify. We should keep ourselves in check by checking with the facts. Eventually we'll have to make a decision and it may not always be successful. But one thing is for sure.

Indecision can create doubt even in our gut. __________________________________________________________________

October 7, 2021

Destination: Home Office

Over a dozen years ago, I wrote a bunch of articles for a national Canadian newspaper publication. I stumbled on my notes recently and one of the pieces rang true with regards to the current state of affairs. With the onslaught of Covid-19 over 18 months ago, many (most?) of us had to re-adjust our working environment and many (most?) have remained in that scenario. 

Companies had to set people up in order to work from home while employees had to adjust with the fact that family life and work life were potentially forever merged. This article was about the home office. 

Why do we work? 

To sustain a lifestyle, feed our children, save for the future, go on vacation, and buy some toys? A lot has been written about the reasons why we get up in the morning and some feel it falls in to three categories (and I agree); to make money, to make a name for ourselves, or to make a difference.

We are fortunate to live in a time and place where we can make choices and enjoy a high standard of living – no matter what our profession. For decades, the model has been spaces featuring people in offices or cubicles toiling at desks on computers for eight hours each day. 

If you are currently working at home, either by choice or because of the pandemic, and seriously thinking of asking to do it full time from now on, there are rudimentary issues you must keep in mind. When setting up a home office, your headspace is as important as your workspace.   

Dress Code: If you get up each morning, shower, and get ready for work, you will be in a better place to stay focused. Surfing on your iPhone while in sweat pants may limit your ability to stay on track. 

Technology: With personal digital assistants, video conferencing, email, and smartphones, we have the capacity to transform and redesign our vocational surroundings. Work can literally be done anywhere. However, frequently updating your Facebook status may limit your career growth. Oh and please remember to wear pants for any Zoom calls! 

Research: If you don’t need a video capabilities for your work, it’s best not turn any on while you are working in your home office. The temptation will be too great to “take breaks”. Watching hours of cat videos on YouTube does not count as research. 

Refreshments: I can’t speak for you, but my home office is usually overflowing with the aroma of coffee while I’m sifting through the morning emails. But you have to be very careful! The refrigerator can be your enemy. It’s best to insure that the office-to-fridge excursion is difficult to navigate. Keep the two as far apart as humanly possible. Having eighteen snacks a day in lieu of getting the report done will hinder productivity. 

Collaboration: Limit your time commiserating with other home office colleagues. How ever tempting, thinly disguised daily business meetings with friends at coffee shops will divert potential success – for both parties. 

Planning: The Internet is not a toy. Researching what you will buy when you’re rich before you get your actual work done will catch up with you.

Meetings: Full conversations out loud to yourself whilst alone are permitted; that counts as a staff meeting. Beer alone at Noon is not a working lunch. 

Assistants: If you have pets, resist the temptation of feeling bad every time you get a coffee refill and the dog thinks it’s time to play. Please remember that cohabitating with a canine would not be fun in your car while you look for another job.

Focus: It is important to build in rules and creature comforts to your working space within your living space. So take breaks, be comfortable, but don’t expect miracles to happen if your 3pm meeting each day is with Netflix. Working at home can be extremely gratifying, but it is still work. 

If you can create an office space within your home space which cohabitates with your mind space, you may never want to be stuffed into a cubicle again.

Good luck!

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