Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Hidden Power In Trusting Your Gut Instincts

vp_gut_feeling_signFast Company has a piece on The Hidden Power In Trusting Your Gut Instincts in which the author argues that your gut can be trusted:

Why is trusting your gut so powerful? Because your gut has been cataloging a whole lot of information for as long as you’ve been alive. “Trusting your gut is trusting the collection of all your subconscious experiences,” says Melody Wilding, a licensed therapist and professor of human behavior at Hunter College.

“Your gut is this collection of heuristic shortcuts. It’s this unconscious-conscious learned experience center that you can draw on from your years of being alive,” she explains. “It holds insights that aren’t immediately available to your conscious mind right now, but they’re all things that you’ve learned and felt. In the moment, we might not be readily able to access specific information, but our gut has it at the ready.”

The piece suggests four strategies to enhance your gut decisions:

1. Carve out time to reflect
2. Give yourself constraints (e.g., time)
3. Be aware of your feelings
4. List every time your gut instinct served you.

#4 is the one we’d like to recommend, because studies show that those who rely on intuition alone tend to overestimate its effectiveness.  They recall the times it served them well and forget the times it didn’t.  Keeping a list of every time intuition is your only guide might be eye-opening.

“Common sense” justifications can be found for almost any conclusion, and as a result it can be shockingly unreliable and something that we over-rely on to the exclusion of other methods of reasoning.  Here’s how we put it in Everything is obvious once you know the answer:

It is “rarely practical to run the perfect experiment” before making a decision but we can be “more deliberative and reflective as we gather and analyze facts to inform our decisions.”  When we over-rely on common sense alone, we risk “rejecting a more thorough effort to solve a problem and settling for an easy one.”

We think the article in Fast Company overstates its case.  In our experience the best results often come from a combination of deliberation and intuition.

If the subject interests you as much as it does us, please check out these related posts:

 

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