Trust Your Gut

What does trusting your gut mean? Some people call it intuition. Think of all the past experiences you’ve had in your life. If you are like most people, you have overcome many challenges. And in overcoming all those challenges, you have learned a few lessons along the way. Some of the lessons you’ve learned the hard way. They may have caused extreme pain either physically or emotionally. And when faced with an important decision, as a result of the lessons from the past, you instinctively know what the right decision should be … most of the time.

I remember a particular lesson from my youth when playing neighborhood baseball in our backyard. I was the catcher for one of the fastest pitchers in the area. As he wound up on the pitchers mound to deliver the ball, at what seemed like 300 miles per hour, the ball tipped the bat and struck my head. Oh, and by the way, we never believed in wearing a catcher’s face mask when playing the position of catcher. That was for sissies. I was knocked out momentarily. From that point forward, every time I got behind a batter, my intuition kicked in, and I put on a catcher’s face mask. Nobody had to tell me.

As I write this, I’m thinking there may be a pattern in my life of getting hit in the head a lot, which may explain a few things. But I digress. Back to the topic at hand …

What I see business owners do over and over again is chase the next big thing or, as some people refer to it, chase shiny things. This is a form of procrastination. They are constantly trying this and that, but never make a decision to fully commit to any one thing. Why do business owners and entrepreneurs do this? Is it something in the way they are wired? Or are they looking for an easy button? Why do they sometimes take so long to make the difficult decisions?

It’s as simple as they haven’t trained themselves to make decisions quickly, because they have not learned to trust their gut. (And this is something that can be learned and developed.)

Here are five ways you can learn to trust your gut (or intuition):

1. Breathe and relax.
If you deny your body the oxygen it needs, you are vulnerable to more stress or maybe even illness. Focus on breathing in and out through your nose. A good exercise is to slowly breathe in through your nose for a count of four, hold for two seconds, then slowly exhale counting six seconds, then hold again and repeat ten times. Use your diaphragm. As you inhale, your chest and shoulders should stay put and your lower rib cage should expand and your belly should move out. When you exhale, focus on pushing your belly button to your spine and not depressing your chest. With a little practice, all of this will become second nature.

2. Pay attention to how your body is reacting to the situation.
Become aware of how you are feeling in certain situations. I’m not sure how to describe it, but when I meet with a client, I have this feeling inside that tells me if we are a good fit for each other. For many people it’s just an uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomach. It’s important to develop the self-awareness necessary to recognize these feelings.

3. Make a list of times when your gut (or intuition) has served you well.
If you have been in business for any length of time, then you probably have several of these instances.

4. Set a time limit on making decisions.
This can be done in most situations. For example, you could give yourself thirty minutes to an hour to make a decision. And after that amount of time has passed, then make the decision to trust your gut and move forward.

5. Take action!
Making decisions, taking action, implementing what you know are three challenges facing a lot of business owners. If someone has trouble with any of these three things, it is either a fear of failure or lack of confidence that leads to procrastination where nothing actually gets done.

Learning to trust your gut (or intuition) is an extremely important trait to develop in business. Generally, if you have developed this skill, the outcome of any decisions you make will be positive. You will make better decisions more quickly without second-guessing yourself. Will you be wrong sometimes? It could happen, but I’m willing to bet you will be right more times than you are wrong. I’m not sure if I have ever heard anyone say, “I regret going with my gut.”