Friday, October 29, 2010

The Gut

Speaking with Silverline yesterday, she indicated that she had an opportunity. It was good opportunity, allowing her to go to school while working and getting her out of an unhealthy environment. "But flying home" she related "I just didn't feel right about it. It would allow to do everything I want to do. There was just something about it."

How do we analyze the intuition that we call "gut instinct"? It's a funny thing. Sometimes it can be cast as a view of our own limitations, the boundaries we set up for ourselves. Sometimes it simply a sense of fear of the unknown masquerading as good sense. Sometimes it can be physically related, that we had no sleep or a bad day which impacts our decision making ability.

But sometimes there really is something there.

If I look back on my own life, especially the incidents that I would define as "epic failures", almost without exception I can see a moment when my gut instinct told me to do the exact opposite. It was not always a "Hey, don't do this" voice in my head: sometimes it was a moment of hesitation before the plunge, sometimes it was based on the reaction of someone else who said "Is that really a good idea?" and my inner response of "I don't know - is it?" even as I put on a good face. But that moment was always there - and I can completely picture the scenes in my head to this day (is that because they were epic failures in the end, or that they were significant life events?):

- The moment when I decided to join The Firm.
- The moment when I decided to turn in my notice at work to join The Firm.
- The moment when we had a chance to not buy the new house but decided to anyway.

Interestingly, I cannot think of the same examples for things I did right. I don't have the same vivid memories about gut instincts that worked out for the best. People possibly - people I didn't get involved with and shouldn't have - but not any events or choices in my life that the gut instinct turned out to be a wonderful decision.

Does that mean intuition usually only works for a bad decision, not a good one? Not sure - but I do know, at least in my own life, that when my gut says "Hey, let's think about this a minute" I have enough experience to think reconsideration is a good idea.

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