We’ve all been told to trust our gut, but what if your gut instincts suck? What if you could train your “gut feeling” to be more reliable? I believe you can and I’m going to show you how I’ve done it for myself.
Some people might be more intuitive than others by nature. However, that doesn’t mean that intuition isn’t a skill we can learn. Follow along and you’ll see how simple it really is when you stop and think about it.
My definition of our “gut feeling” is: an inclination based on knowledge, experience and imagination. (Imagination has to make up for what we lack of the first 2)
Feed & Exercise Your Gut
Just like we feed our guts literally, we have to feed our “gut feelings” as well.
The difference is, the most nutritious foods for our figurative gut are knowledge and experience.
Where are your instincts letting you down? Maybe you are a poor judge of character and always end up choosing crappy friends. Maybe your instincts have let you down in several failed businesses. When do you find that you regret a decision that you had a good feeling about at first?
Make a mental note of those areas where your gut is letting you down. If you’re serious about this, write them down. We usually uncover hidden memories when we are in a deep, reflective state that we quickly forget moments later.
These are areas where your ratio of knowledge/experience to imagination is slanted in the wrong direction.
We need imagination! Don’t get me wrong, a life without imagination is stale and boring.
However, we want reliable instincts based on reality and not imagination. We want to know what will really happen if we follow through with this inclination.
Imagination creates new ideas and our intuition decides which decisions are good or bad.
So how do you start feeding your gut? You’ve got to start by mastering the basics. Go back to the drawing board and learn from the beginning.
You might think you know what you’re doing, but your gut is telling you otherwise. If your gut instincts are leading you in the wrong direction time after time, then your instincts are literally telling you that YOU HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE! Be honest with yourself.
You have to self-educate.
From the above examples let’s look at how you could start.
- Poor judge of character – read up on psychology. Look, I know we all like to think we are unique and technically yes we are all different in our own ways. However, the vast majority of people also tend to fall into certain categories of behavior and thought patterns. Read up on psychology, communication and sociology and you will take the guesswork out of judging character.
- Failed businesses – read biographies on successful individuals and organizations. What did they do differently than you? Most businesses fail due to lack of funding, technically. That could mean too many things though. Not enough start-up capital, poor margins, a lack of increased sales, etc. Do you get excited about bad ideas? Do you jump into industries at the wrong time? Wherever your instincts are failing you, that is where you need to learn more.
Now you might be thinking, this is all just training my mind, not my gut. To that I would say – it’s all relative. Nothing happens in your body without your mind. The tingle in your gut is a physical expression of something happening in your mind. The “gut feeling” has to come from somewhere, right? Our gut isn’t the source. We just happen to have a lot of nerves in the gut area and our brain uses that as a way to get our attention. It’s a clever mechanism if you think about it.
It’s one thing to know a lot about a subject from studying it, and then it’s another thing to know about something from experience.
The knowledge gets you started, but you have to actually practice to really learn.
Have you ever noticed that obese people do the most reading about dieting? It always amazes me how many obese people claim to know so much about dieting, but they don’t have the results that you would expect from someone who “knew” that much. They don’t practice what they learn.
Knowledge without practice holds little to no value.
Experience comes from practice and consistent practice builds habits.
It’s hard to argue that Peyton Manning lacks football instincts. His “gut feeling” is so valuable that he is able to override any play-call from his coaches without criticism from the coaching staff or his teammates.
You might think, since his dad birthed two starting NFL quarterbacks that it’s just in his DNA – and there might be some truth to that – but he also has a reputation for being among the hardest working players off the field.
It’s only from hours and hours of studying strategy, watching film, working on mechanics, practicing plays, etc that he is able to have great instincts.
You’ve got to have knowledge and experience to feed your gut. A strong “gut feeling” is like a strong body, it requires nutrition and exercise.
NBA players will spend an entire off-season practicing a particular shot or move. They will invest months to add only 1 additional weapon to their arsenal. Why do they do that? So when the time comes that they are faced with that exact scenario, their instincts will know exactly what to do.
Test & Track
The only way to know if something is working is to test it.
You don’t have to be a scientist to test your own theories. There’s no reason to sit around and wait for someone else to explain everything to us, when we are fully capable of figuring out most of it on our own.
Make note of when your gut helps you and when it lets you down. Look for the trends.
While you are feeding and exercising your gut, track your progress. Identify where and when it has improved and where it continues to fail you.
It’s one thing to be on the sideline learning, or to be on the practice field (I’m speaking figuratively, you can apply this to anything) – but the only way to know where you stand is to get in a live game.
So as you are working on improving your gut instincts you want to keep putting yourself in position to actually use those gut instincts.
Instead of simply hoping that you’re going in the right direction, test and track your progress so you know if you’re improving or not.
There is no better way to self-educate than through testing and tracking.
Once you’ve trained your “gut feeling” you have to learn to trust yourself.
Remember, your gut instinct isn’t some random idea from your imagination – you’ve put in a lot of work to develop it. It does you no good if you start second-guessing yourself.
Sometimes to get what you want out of life, you have to fake it til’ you make it. That means go with your gut decision, no matter how much you might doubt it.
I’m not going to guarantee that it won’t ever let you down, but if you’ve put in the work to train your “gut feeling” – the odds are ever in your favor. (Did you catch that movie reference?)
Take a chance on yourself! I can promise you that you’re better off being yourself than trying to be anyone else.
A big part of having good instincts is having unshakable faith in yourself. You’ve got to trust that your instincts are right, even when it seems like they aren’t. Again, this works best when you have trained your gut instincts first.
So how do I know that all of this is legit? Well, I can’t say with 100% certainty that it will work for everyone – but this is what works for me. I pretty much operate solely on my gut instincts. In a given situation I know that I’ve put in the work beforehand and I simply trust my gut, no matter what it tells me.
I’ve always had an interest (obsession) with learning and gaining experience, but I had a hard time trusting myself for a long time. I would second, triple and quadruple guess myself. However, once I started to just trust my gut and let go of the other thoughts, everything seemed to fall into place.
My gut might not always be completely correct, but it always gets me moving in the right direction.
The only way to really know is to try it for yourself and see. Find out where your gut instincts are hungry and weak. Start testing and tracking. Finally, learn to trust yourself.
Until Next Time,
What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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