I often get asked how I'm able to act so quickly on some business decisions without doubting myself. The answer? I've learned to listen to my gut.
While it may sound like a cliché, there is something to be said for listening to your intuition when trying to make big decisions. In fact, when we ignore our emotions and go into over-thinking, we run the risk of either not moving fast enough or not moving at all.
The Research on Intuition and Decision Making
While the business world typically tells you to leave your emotions at home, it should be more like "Don't let your emotions take over."
The reality is emotions - especially when coupled with information - do have a role in the business space and there's research to back it up.
According to neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, of the University of Southern California, it turns out there's a science to gut feelings. When we get "gut feelings" we are actually receiving messages from insula and the amygdala. These are sensations that something either feels "right" or "wrong." When we learn to listen to these signals, we can simplify decisions and avoid analysis paralysis.
The same HBR article that noted Damasio's work also makes mention of an experiment that was conducted in the U.K. A group of British researchers tried to see who out of 118 professional traders and 10 managers at investment banks were better at picking stocks.
The result? The best traders were those that relied on a combination of analytics and their guts. More specifically, they were good at gathering information from a wide range of emotions. Those that relied solely on their guts (without using emotions as information) suffered the worst losses while those who relied only on analytics did okay.
The moral of the story is your gut can help you make better decisions. Here are three instances in which you may need to go with your gut.
If you find yourself asking everyone else for their opinion.
One thing I try to teach many of my business coaching clients is to start trusting their own decision-making capabilities. This is a paramount skill to have if you're going to make it as a business leader.
Some clients are naturally good at trusting their gut while others get stuck in the "I have to ask everyone else their opinion" phase. Sometimes I have responded to their emails with, "I can't answer this for you. It's time to trust your gut."
That's why I say that if you find yourself asking everyone else for their opinion and are still getting nowhere, it's time to listen to your gut and act based on what it tells you.
If you have all the data and you still can't make a decision.
Sometimes we could have all the data we need at our fingertips and we still can't make a decision. This is what we call analysis paralysis - when we have way too much information and get confused about what we need to do next.
At this point, your only course of action is to go inward and trust your feelings. Otherwise, you're going to remain stuck.
When it just clicks.
Throughout the course of my career, I've noticed that I've made some of my best decisions on the fly. I simply make a decision and figure it out as I go.
It's how I knew I had an Amazon bestselling book before I even launched it, it's how knew I needed a rebrand a couple of years ago and it's how I knew I had to hire my current coach and mentor.
While having more experience helps in making some of these decisions, the truth is there was no real logic behind any of these things. All of these decisions were made very quickly based on something inside of me that just clicked.
There was no doubt and no question. It just felt right, so I went for it. And you know what? I was right every time.