Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself. – Oprah Winfrey
As a business leader, we constantly face new challenges.
We steadily encounter interesting contacts, read inspiring stories, and experience that doing the right thing is not always easy.
“We spend our workdays in our outer world. We’re interacting with our team members and clients. We don’t have enough time in our inner world where we can reflect on those experiences and listen to what our gut might have to say,” says the professional development coach Hana Ayoub.
We are bombarded from different platforms with social media noise about how to fix our biggest career problems and with a large variety of information about how to be successful – and therefore it’s not surprising that many of us doubt our natural instincts and decision-making strategies. Instead of listening to our inner voice we quickly tune it out.
Don’t plan, just act
We live in a world where we are fearful of doing anything “off plan”. We are worried that unless we know and plan everything beforehand, we may miss the target.
Tasks and to-do lists dominate our lives, and we cannot live without our calendar.
The bestselling book “Blink: The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking” by Malcolm Gladwell, explains that intuitive decision-making can result in a better outcome than relying on more lateral methods, such as lists of pros and cons. Gladwell’s book wants to show us when it is most efficacious to make snap decisions without gathering very much knowledge and information, and when it is best to make very deliberate decisions.
I personally have learned that often a good instinct, not always planning everything and being open for what might come, is sometimes the chance for success.
Planning can sometimes restrict and limit our opportunities for success.
When we are too focused on goals and plans, when we steadily see commitments, we will eventually deviate from our vision, mission, and purpose.
WHAT WE SHOULD LEARN …
Success is only a by-product and never the goal.
Never aim at success!
We can actually achieve success by accident.
And when we are not steadily looking for answers, we will often discover what we need to know.
Have you heard the term “serendipity”?
“Serendipity” is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely. “Serendipity” is an accidental lucky discovery (according to Wikipedia).
It really lies a special power in “serendipity”.
In other words, what does that mean?
We are learning now, that the random nature of social media is able to create success for all those that understand to use the power of “serendipity”.
Only through the random searching of links, people are being serendipitously connected.
Every click has a cause and effect.
Learn from my story
Let’s hear how I became successful through “serendipity”:
In August 2011, I entered the English business platform Ecademy (now SunZu) via invitation.
First, I was a bit skeptical, whether this platform was something for me.
You know, I am a German.
But I did everything intuitively at that time.
I intuitively opened my account on the platform and began to show great interest.
I was open to people, new contacts and the service of the platform.
It was something special for me being on an English platform.
Being a PR person, I intuitively had the idea of writing a press release for honoring the founders, Thomas and Penny Power, for their wonderful work and announcing the new Ecademy score that was invented at that time.
Writing this press release (it was in school English!) was a chance for me to show my creativity and my language skills.
And what was the result of my engagement?
Just this press release “catapulted” me to a big success.
Hundreds of network members liked and commented on this special blog.
In the end, this blog was a huge blog – much to read and to learn from.
And what came after that?
From the first blog, all my other blogs were a success.
Within several weeks I was number 1 in the Ecademy score ( among 600.000 members ) for blogging and being so engaged with and by others.
Thomas Power said: “Karin, what this does is branding!” and I was impressed by his words.
I was very active and engaged on the platform and people liked me, my work and my blogs.
And most of the time, I did everything with “serendipity” – I relied on my intuition, on my gut feeling.
I was driven by the focus to improve my English skills, to get into contact with interesting people and to learn some good marketing and communication techniques from English and international business people.
Despite that in the beginning, I had to learn much (because I started with school English), I was willing to seize my given chances in order to prove to myself what I could achieve.
Where we see “serendipity” in action:
Members from around the world shared the philosophy of Ecademy: ORS (being open, random and supportive to everyone).
I had no idea that just this platform would mean huge success for me.
I was only confident and trusted my gut feeling.
I learned that “let random contacts happen” is often the solution for success.
Especially, when people learn to be open and supportive, then real changes can happen.
WHAT WE SHOULD LEARN …
The tremendous aspect of social media is the wide, random reach that each of us can achieve from home, without having to leave our home.
We have the chance to talk globally to people from many walks of life.
We can broaden our horizon and can learn steadily.
With the advent of social media, examples of “serendipity” happen every day.
We only have to be ready for this “serendipity”.
When we are ready for being open, random and even supportive, we will be astonished what can happen on social media.
It’s worth to set on “serendipity”.
The hidden power in trusting our gut instincts
Trusting our gut is a good advice for a reason: Our instincts are usually right.
“Trusting your gut is trusting the collection of all your subconscious experiences,” says Melody Wilding, a therapist, and professor of human behavior at Hunter College.
Your gut is that little voice inside of you.
Take these steps to stop second-guessing yourself and to learn to trust your gut:
1. Find time to reflect
After an important meeting or interaction that requires a decision from your side, give yourself mental space to reflect.
Take a walk around the block and spend some time alone.
Or start telling people: “I need to sleep on this, I’ll get back to you tomorrow.”
We have to create space to listen to what our gut is saying.
That’s why people say they get their best ideas in the shower.
2. Set yourself a time limit
Every time you have a big decision or difficult choice to make, give yourself half an hour time to make it.
After that half an hour, you should feel committed to using your gut.
That forces you to be more instinctive.
3. Develop an awareness of your feelings
Learn to feel what’s going on for you.
Do you feel nervous right now?
Are you not sure, what’s coming next?
Use this awareness to get in touch with what your gut might be saying to you.
4. Follow your interests
When you feel you can’t get an idea out of your head, your gut is telling you something: The idea has merit.
When you cannot sleep in the night and are nervous because of a project, then you know it is something you are supposed to do.
That instinct fuels your drive and work ethic.
We should learn that instinct is just passion disguised as an idea.
When we act on ideas we truly care about, and we really are passionate about, we are more likely to be right and more likely to work hard enough to succeed.
5. Commit yourself fully
We should learn that every good instinct has to be supported by a lot of dedicated work.
With faith and confidence, we find a way to follow through and become successful.
With commitment and the right focus on doing the best we can, we support a good beginning.
6. Become immersed in a subject or group
We aren’t born with the right instincts for business — we have to learn them and we learn them over time.
When we become immersed in a subject or group, our mind begins to use all that knowledge with very little effort.
Our instincts become informed decisions made in the blink of an eye.
It is always useful to learn from the knowledge of the industry and knowing every aspect of our business.
7. Set new rules and trends
What are rules?
Rules are made by people who had an instinct five years or twenty years before us.
Leaders who trust their instincts will be the ones who set new rules — they anticipate and solve problems of the future.
And they set new trends.
Insights from research
Neurobiology explains that intuition is a “right-brain” activity, that uses the emotional, creative, innovative part of the brain, while the left side of the brain is the mathematical, factual part.
A study found out that people who were asked to make a choice without explaining it were happier with their decision sometime later than those people that were asked to rationalize it.
For many years researchers followed the thinking that the conscious, pragmatic and objective mind is best able to make logical decisions – however, most experts now agree that a combination of both, analytical and intuitive decision-making, leads to the best results.
Focus on your first response
We should learn to rather give our initial response to a situation some credit, than simply dismissing it.
Despite it may turn out to be based on fear, we should not automatically assume it is worthless.
Upcoming feelings of inexplicable discomfort, a sudden desire to overestimate a negative feeling and a sense that something is simply not quite right, such things should all be ignored.
We should not give these feelings space.
Now you will ask:
How can I strengthen my intuition?
Trusting and following the own gut will also strengthen the own intuition muscle.
But, to do this, we must first unplug and listen to our own senses.
How can we, when we feel steadily bombarded with information and technology, develop a good intuitive feeling?
Too much information overload leads to a dull feeling and we are not able anymore to produce a good sensitivity for our gut feeling.
Sometimes it is time to get away from the computer – time for a walk, enjoy the sun and distract our thoughts.
Then we will feel better afterward and are able to trust our senses.
There are many awesome people in social media, but there are also people who may take advantage of you and your vulnerability.
Being active and sharing a lot doesn’t mean that a person is particularly trustworthy.
If your instincts tell you to be cautious, investigate further before continuing to interact.
Relationships are emotional experiences that should not be taken lightly.
WHAT WE SHOULD LEARN …
Every day our intuition makes millions of rapid assessments that tell us whether something is right or wrong.
Relying on our inner voice is a skill we can learn.
It’s a habit we can cultivate in our personal and our professional life.
Cultivating our gut instinct can help us make healthier and more confident decisions about our life.
Take the opinions, experiences, knowledge, and lessons from others and use them to inform yourself.
Then, make thoughtful, smart decisions based on knowledge and intuition.
This quote adds a good orientation to the subject and is helpful as a good social media strategy:
Follow your heart but take your brain with you too. – Alfred Adler
And I will end with the words of Steve Jobs at Stamford University, during his Commencement Speech in 2005:
You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. – Steve Jobs
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS AND YOU WILL BECOME SUCCESSFUL!
Have you learned to trust your instincts?