Don’t Go with Your Gut
Everyone has an inner voice, intuition, or feelings that something is right or wrong. Your gut could be wrong. Don’t trust it.
Ask the poker player who went all-in and lost. What about the manager who felt great about hiring a job applicant that didn’t work out. Have you ever felt you were driving in the right direction when you were lost?
One of the worst things the gut tells extroverts is keep talking.
Evaluate your gut when:
- You feel like you’re contributing more than your teammates.
- Topics are outside your expertise.
- Assigning blame.
- You haven’t taken time for self-reflection.
I talked with Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D., about when to trust our gut. She said, for those who take time to self-reflect, listen to your gut when it comes to values and passions. She emphasized the importance of self-reflection.
“Where our intuitions fail us is actually on the opposite problem, that is, evaluating where we go wrong… In general we are way too hard on ourselves. We tend to think that we are the problem.”
Dr. Halvorson went on to say, “I’m a big advocate for people being much more self-compassionate than we are… The people who are not horribly self-critical are actually more successful… The lack of self-compassion comes from some of these bad intuitions we have about our failures.”
You need more input when it comes to evaluating failures. Don’t go with your gut. Get feedback.
Evaluating your gut:
Explore issues that don’t feel right. Don’t assume something’s wrong. Say, “This doesn’t feel right to me. Tell me more.”
When something feels right ask, “Am I missing something? or What could go wrong?”
Dr. Halverson in her own words on intuition (3:57):
Check out Dr. Halverson’s new book: Focus (Highly recommended)
How do you know when to go with your gut?
Dead wrong on this one. I think inner knowing is a million times more trustworthy than PHD’s.
Inner knowing doesnt criticize and it isn’t emotionally charged. Maybe the disconnect here is in thinking that all inner thoughts are from the “gut.”
Many inner thoughts are not the “gut” at all but the ego mind.
Your headline perhaps crafted to catch attention is horrible advice. Ick…
I Concur Carla!
My first name is Brien cause my grandmothers maiden name was O’Brien!
Wonder if we are related?
Thanks for your comments. My gut says your wrong. 🙂
I think you meant “you’re” ….
Hm, I can’t say I agree with you. I would definitely describe it as emotionally charged, which is exactly what makes it dangerous!
The idea of going with your gut is too romanticized in my opinion. There are times when you should go with your gut. For example, you’re conflicted on making a decision, you think you should, your friends tell you should, but your mind (or body) isn’t letting you go. Yet your gut is telling you to do it. That’s a situation that calls for listening to your gut and ignoring those mental barriers.
You would think that those mental barriers are the gut, but I’d argue they’re separate
Well Frank Kern Core Influence. Pretty much my take here. Your gut kind of like the wet part of the ocean.
Agree completely with This Dude.
Hmm lets see, he writes copy, gets together with his friends and with their strategy sells 24 million dollars worth of stuff on the internet in one day. Winning!
Ok ok, he makes enough living in Macon Ga to drive a Lamborgini there. Figures out there is a difference between success and fulfillment. Finds the way he got that, CORE INFLUENCE.
Now ridiculously rich, happy as a clam, living a dream like life everyday. mapped out what his perfect day would be like then Groundhog Day everyday.
So when it comes to trusting got or not, gonna follow what Frank says on this. Why? He lives a life more like the one I want to.
Those who can do, those who can’t teach…..all about the results baby.
Take care Dan and if I don’t like or agree 1000% everyday with your take on things we still buddies, right? I don’t dislike you just cause sometimes I have a different opinion. Just thought I would mention that for what it is worth.
We are definitely still buddies Scott. I knew this post would create conversation. Which is what I wanted. 🙂
Perfect!!!!! I deeply appreciate our buddyness!!!
Have a great one!!!
Can’t wait to see all the comments on this post, it should be real interesting reading!!!
Over the years, (there are many!!), I’ve learned to listen to my gut, but only after time for consideration of the issue at hand. As I’ve told folks I work with and my kids, “if you want an answer right now, I’ll give you one, but I reserve the right to change it after I’ve had time to reflect on it.” I belive the “gut” can be valuable when used appropriately and not in an emotionally charged atmosphere.
I like this response, Don, and feel the same way. I think the gut develops from life experiences, but because these teachings are not always valid in all situations, they need to be verified carefully.
Read Ed Debono’s 6 Thinking Hats, a formalized method of lateral thinking. After the green, the white, the yellow and the black, pull out the red hat (gut) and check what else hasn’t been addressed.
I heard Jack Welch describe the voice of the gut as the voice of experience. If this is true. Those without experience or the young had better think twice before listening to an inexperienced inner voice.
Thanks Don, I like the “right to change your mind” approach. Sometimes I don’t know what I really want until I make a choice and it doesn’t set well with me. It takes a while to get to the gut.
I am successful and go with my gut, heart, inner intuition
etc. I take time to reflect and find you can see things happening
before they do kind of like “Final Destination” if you pay
attention to it.. Happy Thursday! Enjoy the read everyday.. Thank
Thanks. I think the key here is taking to to reflect. We might mistakenly going with our first impulse is listening to our gut. But it’s better to take time.
I’m not sure I agree that the extraverts gut is telling them to keep talking. It’s more like their gut is not telling them to shut up or more worryingly – their psychological need to be liked is so great they’re not listening to their gut
🙂 I’m an extrovert and I see myself in your comment.
Considering that my gut often tells me to eat an entire cake in one sitting…yeah I’d say it’s often wrong. At least it gets punished when that is the case.
This is so helpful… and ironic. I am actually working on a post now called, “if it feels stupid, it probably is.” I have been getting frustrated recently with people not having the confidence to use common sense… and send up a flare when something is wrong. Does anyone have any input of encouraging use of that intuition? Could use some ideas.
The thing about asking people to listen to their gut is that it’s hard to give specific directions. However, it probably is not so difficult to have people develop a heightened awareness of other social cues: physical withdrawing, silence, intense look, shifty look, blushing, garrulousness, argumentative-ness. All of these manifestations can tell us that something is going on in the communication that is not being addressed: an uncomfortable idea, a desire to say something that may not be well-received, a disagreement that will surface elsewhere, embarrassment, a need to be heard, a passion for the subject that is not being recognized.
This isn’t all that gut is made up of, but for people who are particularly out-of-tune, it’s a good place to start.
I’m listening to a great book now by Daniel Kahneman called
“Thinking Fast and Slow,” essentially comparing our intuition
(System 1) with our analytical thought (System 2). System 1 seems
to be good for most routine tasks, but System 2 (thinking that
feels like work) is necessary for anything beyond that. So, when I
think about it, I think you’re on the right track with this
Great way to describe the process of intuition vs analytical thinking – fast and slow. Thanks for jumping in.
This was my thought exactly. Kahneman speaks about
something called the availability heuristic which is a term to
describe the amount of “available data” for our gut to make a
decision. It might not be right, but we because we are drawing upon
limited data in our minds, we think we’re right. Great post
One of the comparatively few benefits of getting older is that I am more comfortable going with my heart (I think the gut is only good for telling me when I’m hungry — and even then, I think it lies to me often . . . if you actually could see the size of my gut, that is).
Whatever we might call it, I think for most people our ability to assess and respond to situations — getting a good sense of issues at hand — gets better with age and experience. When I was a 20-something from the far Nebraska panhandle, my intuition was terrible and I knew it . . . so I didn’t rely on it. Decades — and many, many experience later — I am totally comfortable relying on my ability to understand people, observe body language, and grasp the key issues at hand. Without some reliance on that initial “gut feeling,” what else gets us to the point where we can ask (from your post): “This doesn’t feel right to me. Tell me more” or “Am I missing something?
Well said Scott. I concur that I’m more willing these days to listen to my gut and use it to motivate further exploration.
I also find it helps me connect with others because we feel more in tune or connected. Cheers
Most of what I hear from my gut is that I am hungry and that is probably not accurate either given how much weight I could lose.
Now intuition, that is different. And when the hairs on the back of my neck are jumping up, that is also different, primal, and I probably need to pay attention. But it does not mean to jump immediately, just be very attentive.
The challenge with our intuition (and probably that impulsive, gut feeling) is that it gets filtered/colored by past experience which may or may not have application to current situation. It is those forest/trees experiences that get in the way. (Remember the test where you are asked to watch a video of people passing basketballs and to count them. At the end, you are asked if you saw the gorilla walk through the passing. Your gut may tell you that there was no gorilla, but there was.)
As others have noted, taking a time out to reflect and sort it all out is essential. Our thinking gets colored or clouded by our emotions if we move to quickly and our emotions can also influence our action in the short term because they are so powerful. Time out!
With Dan stirring the pot today, would suggest a combo of both might be another recipe to consider. A dollop or two of your intuition or inner voice(s), toss in past experiences, and do a quick little factual analysis of any other new experiences/ingredients that might compliment and complete the course. Geez, I went back to food again and now I am hungry again! 😉
I’m hungry! By the way, going with our gut might not be the best when we’re on a diet. 🙂
Love your three ingredient recipe it brings great balance to the conversation. Delighted you dropped in.
Yes, that recipe sounds balanced and (dare I say) delicious! I suspect every time we try it, we tweak just a bit to find that “just right” place. Like Goldilocks!
Love the daily post – good fuel! Thanks.
I haven’t yet met a person who constantly refers to what
his gut is telling him who is a good decision maker. My sense is
that when people feel that they are making a “gut” decision it is
more an innate sense of what is right or wrong in that situation
based on the sum total of their experiences, prior learnings etc.
If you think of what stuff from the gut smells like – well that is
what my experience shows me is the quality of gut level
My unscientific evaluation is that your “gut” instincts will lead you to a good solution about 80% of the time. I like those odds. The other 20% of the time troubles that result need to be considered ‘the cost of doing business’.
Hmmm, so your gut instinct is telling you that you are correct 80% of the time!? (just kiddin’)
To paraphrase Ronald Reagan…Trust (your gut), but verify.
Rule #1 – Don’t confuse your gut and your ego
My gut is bigger than my brain — that’s why I go with my
I always refer to my gut feeling as the little tug that
says,” hey you know what the right answer is. I also know that
there was a time in my life that I had nothing to compare right or
wrong to because I had not yet been met with experience. If you
notice Tug is Gut spelled backwards.
Reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and he has a different
opinion. The problem is we second guess ourselves.
I always thought my gut taught me a lot… However, I don’t act on it until I explore the issue a little more. I keep in mind that there are many factors involved and I may have only seen one side to a story. Usually my gut is spot on!
Hi Dan Clearly not an either/or although interesting at how
attached we are to our beliefs about it. From neuroscience’s
perspective we are still learning about intuitive senses, but
clearly they are “felt” senses. Since we live in a culture that
trusts the so-called rational mind and derides most things having
to do with emotions (which includes intuition) most of us have not
learned how to listen to our feelings. In many cases, we tend to
“override” our intuitive information (and all feelings are a source
of information) because we tend to want to rely on our more trusted
rational brain – and as someone noted then pay more attention to
past experience which is often not useful for the current situation
at hand. There’s a balance that most of us miss in the process…..
thanks Louise PS we have far more neurons in our heart and
so-called gut than we do in our brains.
I don’t think this is one of your most profound posts, but not too far off the mark.
Gut feelings can mislead, and in my case tend to direct me to caution when sometimes being more bold would work out better.
I certainly agree with the Halvorsen quotes.
As prolific as you are, no-one can be spot-on every time.
But you definitely achieved your aim of sparking off responses 🙂