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. __________________________________________________________________

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