Timing is everything--When to follow your instincts

January 3, 2023

Timing is everything--When to follow your instincts

“I believe in intuitions and inspirations… I sometimes FEEL that I am right. I do not KNOW that I am.”—Albert Einstein

Intuition, gut feelings, or instincts are often seen in a negative light. Many believe that they are often wrong and irrational. But science tells us that there is a time and place to go with our gut and follow our instincts. When an idea or solution comes to you, but you don’t know how or where it came from, is it worth trusting your instincts?

There have been several studies about intuition and the role it plays in decision-making. According to Harvard Business Review, “While it’s true that intuition can be fallible, studies show that pairing gut feelings with analytical thinking helps you make better, faster, and more accurate decisions and gives you more confidence in your choices than relying on intellect alone.”

Each day, our minds process thousands of pieces of information. Everything from the things our senses perceive, even the ones we don’t notice, to the complex thoughts and data analysis that we do at work, all of that is processed in the brain. 

You probably know how to input data on an excel sheet and what formula to input, but you probably don't remember your high school physics formulas (unless you majored in physics, have an exceptional memory, or have a kid studying physics right now). Some of it is stored, especially the ones we frequently had to complete.

When our attention is focused on a task, part of our subconscious brain is still working on sorting and processing data. That’s why we tend to get this instinct when someone is lying to us in a meeting or if a deal that sounds too good to be true might not be worth your time.

I interviewed Chuck Wisner some time ago, and we were talking about his book, The Art of Conscious Conversations. In his book, there is a section dedicated to “trusting your intuition.”

He said to me that intuition “is also about trusting your experience.”

Think of athletes in the major leagues. When they get in the zone, all conscious real-time analysis of what’s happening in the game and deciding what their next play should be is muted. There’s no conscious thinking when you are in flow. You just trust your intuition, built and ingrained through hours and hours of practice and experience.

As entrepreneurs, leaders, and business owners, we also have those moments. When something feels right, but we can’t pinpoint why it is right, it is just a feeling.

And years of people telling us, “Don’t trust feelings. Do the work. Do the research” often has us hesitating to go with our instincts.

Instincts are necessary for our survival. Without our intuition, a lot of us will be making bad decisions left and right.

There is a time for doing your research, making sure you have all the information you will need, and logical thinking. But when we rely solely on reason, especially for making decisions, we get what they call "decision fatigue"—the phenomenon where the more decisions you make, the worse your decisions get as time passes because your mind is too tired.

Partnering analytical thinking and reasoning with your intuition and trusting your experience (not your feelings) can help you make informed decisions faster, better, and with more energy to spare for execution later.

Our intuition isn’t infallible, but it sure has credit. Learn when to trust it and support it with logic.

Thanks for reading “A Brilliant Tribe.”