Is following your gut overrated? The answer is: absolutely not. But, you must do this one thing before you follow your gut, especially on the more difficult of matters or when sitting on a big decision.
I'm talking about the decisions that cannot be made based solely on data and that involve some level of risk.
And, so what is this one thing you should do? Well, it's a gut-check. And, so what's a gut-check? A gut-check is a method by which you test your gut to make sure it is giving you the purest of information.
I find that sometimes my gut gets clouded by how I think I am supposed to be, to believe, or do. You know-- according to social norms, family, or in the interest of maintaining the status quo so I don't have to bother with rocking the boat.
How Do You Perform a Gut-Check? Do These 3 Things:
1. You have to get comfortable with welcoming, soliciting, listening, and absorbing feedback. If a colleague offers you feedback on a project (even if you don't actively solicit it), you listen.
You don't shut that person up because you aren't interested in hearing unflattering or contradictory feedback. You depersonalize the feedback. You make the feedback about the situation or decision and not about you as a person.
2. Next, you must learn how to filter the feedback. You take the feedback and examine it in relation to your values and who you are. You decide whose feedback matters to you and whose does not. You decide what feedback is relevant to you and what feedback is not.
For example, after a lot of planning and preparation you are at the precipice of taking the plunge to start your own business. You tell your friend about your potentially exciting plans only to be met with this type of response: "This is too risky. You should just stay at your job-- that way you can keep your great health insurance and salary."
Should you take this feedback with you to your gut-check? Probably not-- because this friend has never started her own business and is extremely risk adverse. She thrives on stability and routine, but you do not.
3. After you filter the feedback and examine that information in relation to what you stand for, you are truly ready to tune into your gut.
Following your gut can be tough. Your gut is also where your integrity lives. So, your gut is always correct because acting upon your own integrity is always the right thing to do, no matter how difficult and uncomfortable.
Sometimes you have to make and take quick real time decisions or actions. In this case, quickly get in touch with your gut and act upon it.
Remember: performing a gut-check is intended to help you filter out inappropriate information you give your gut that might be clouded by what you think you are supposed to do according to everyone and everything else but yourself. Clearing away this cloud allows you to make decisions based on a pure gut.