Best selling author Malcolm Gladwell discusses the power of our internal instincts and gut feeling when making decisions in his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. In Super Bowl XLIX, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick listened to his gut instincts while ignoring conventional wisdom. As history would have it, he did not call a time out with the clock dwindling as the Seattle Seahawks were getting ready to run in for the score. Then there are other situations when we don't listen to our instincts, go against our intuition, and end up dissatisfied. How do we know when we should and more importantly, when we should ignore those inner feelings?
Your intuition is a powerful tool and your compass in life. That voice inside your head gives you sage advice. However, many times we hear it but don't listen to it. After the fact, we then admit our hesitation, our concerns, and become angry with ourselves for not respecting our intuitions. Psychologists suggest that the unconscious mind dictates decision-making more than we think. Even when you attempt to base your decisions on some form of logic, your subconscious mind will nudge you ever so slightly with extra information.
We develop our intuition from our experience. Therefore, when we are in the area of our expertise, our internal voice will ring loudly. The areas that we have spent countless hours working, studying, and preparing are more suitable for our intuitiveness. A doctor or nurse routinely and instinctively know when something is wrong before the lab results come back. They have vast experience combined with wisdom and instincts; which cuts down on their potential for mistakes. A chess player relies on expertise when looking at the board. But when they leave the match, their inner voice and abilities can be less polished. Understanding when and where to use instincts is a golden rule.
American-Israeli psychologist Daniel Kahneman said, "Intuition develops from experience, so for your gut to spot trends and patterns, positive trends and patterns must exist."
Gut instincts require a ton of experience. Belichick had been on the sidelines for hundred of games to recognize the disorganization of the Seattle bench. Therefore, he went against the analytics, the standard procedure, and trusted his intuition. Would a first-time coach have done the same thing and challenged the status quo? Most likely not.
So next time your gut is screaming at you to do or not do something, take a moment to check in with science. Is this an area where patterns exist? Do you have long experience of the subject? If you can adequately answer both questions, then, by all means, trust your intuition.
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