Ralph Waldo Emerson writes: “Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.” We have probably all heard many variations on this, all supporting the same theme. For example: “Always trust your gut. It knows what your head hasn’t yet figured out.” Or, “Your heart knows things that your mind can’t explain.”
“Go with your gut,” is occasionally good advice. More often, though, it’s an invitation to indulge in your fear or to avoid the hard work of understanding the nuance around us.
Better advice is, “invest in making your gut smarter.” The world is a lot more complex than our gut is likely to comprehend, at least without training. Train your gut, get better instincts.
How to do this?
- Practice going with your instincts in private. Every day, make a judgment call. Make ten. Make predictions about what’s going to happen next, who’s got a hit, what designs are going to resonate, which videos will go viral, which hires are going to work out. Write them down or they don’t count. It makes no sense to refuse to practice your instinct and to only use it when the stakes are high.
- Expose yourself to more deal flow. If you want to have better instincts about retail, go work in a retail shop. Then another one. Then a third one. If you want to have better instincts about hiring, sit in with the HR folks or volunteer to help a non-profit you care about do screening of incoming resumes.
- Figure out how to talk about your instincts so that they’re no longer instincts. A thinking process shared is inevitably going to get more rigorous. Ask your colleagues to return the favor by challenging each of them to expose their thinking as well.
Godin’s message is one of experiential learning, doing and self-training to hone this magnificent gift. For great leaders, good is not good enough, great is not great enough… there is always something more.
May we remember Steve Jobs’ counsel about instinct: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Let your gut make a difference in your life. Find that something more that will make your life richer and fuller. Life is so very, very good. Please take care.
Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!