Trust your gut: The art of intuitive decision-making
In this article, I'll give you tips on harnessing intuition's power to make better business decisions.
By learning to "trust your gut" or "follow your intuition," you can tap into the brain/gut connection and quickly process your memories, past experiences, personal needs, and preferences to make the best possible decision for every situation.
If you've been burned before or are hesitant to start honing your intuition, I'll show you how to remove those barriers and begin mastering the art of intuitive decision-making in your business.
Let's dive in.
Doubting yourself can get you into trouble
If you're like most entrepreneurs, you probably have suffered from impostor syndrome at one point or another.
Feelings of doubt creep in, and you can find yourself asking questions like:
- How will I know which decision is best for me and my business?
- Could this decision accidentally make things worse?
- Am I even qualified to make this decision?
- What if all of this blows up in my face?
When you doubt yourself, it's easy to get stressed and look for examples of how other entrepreneurs have approached tough decisions.
That might work sometimes, but wouldn't it be better to have an internal north star to help guide you through sticky situations that will inevitably arise in your business?
Of course, it would — and you can cultivate that intuitive navigation by practicing the methods below.
Step 1: Learn to distinguish between gut feelings and fear
For most entrepreneurs, this is the hardest lesson to learn. Here's an easy way to tell the difference between the two:
Intuition is a feeling of certainty from a deeper place within you. You can't explain it, but you know it to be true.
Fear is often driven by external factors such as uncertainty, competition, or perceived risk. These are things outside of your control — thus leading to feelings of worry or dread.
These are two very different emotions; you must understand which one is in the driver's seat at all times.
Step 2: Align your choices with your goals
One way to distinguish between intuition and fear is to test drive your choices by imagining the outcome of each decision and how it aligns with your business goals.
You don't need to go all in all the time — you can work through scenarios in your head to test each possible outcome. By doing so, you can get a sense of whether a particular decision feels right or not for your business.
Step 3: Make smaller business bets to build trust in your abilities
One way to build confidence in your intuition is by making smaller bets (a.k.a. taking calculated risks).
By starting with low-risk decisions, you'll get a few wins and reinforce trust in your judgment. As you gain more experience and confidence, you can gradually increase the size and complexity of your decisions.
With time and practice, decision-making will feel more natural, and you'll finally have the confidence to know when to pump the brakes or hit the gas.
Step 4: Use the snap judgment test
Up to this point, you've wrestled with gut feelings and fear, goal alignment, and taking calculated risks.
The snap judgment test is the final boss — the last piece of the puzzle. Now you can draw from your learned experience and begin forming the confidence to make a quick business decision based on intuition.
This step epitomizes the term "trusting your gut" — and the resulting decision is usually the right one if you've honed your craft.
However, people often forget one crucial part of this test: assessing your results.
Make sure to follow up and ask yourself:
- Was my intuition right in this instance?
- Did external factors play more of a role than anticipated?
- What could I have done better?
Being honest with your decision-making evaluation is almost as important as trusting your gut.
Don't skip this step.
A word of caution: Intuition can sometimes be influenced by confirmation or availability bias. Awareness of these biases and working to counteract them can help you improve snap-judgment decision-making.
Wrapping up with insights from some of the best business leaders
You don't need to look very far to find examples of successful intuitive decision-making in some of the best business leaders in the world.
Steve Jobs was known for trusting his gut regarding product development. He famously said, "It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it."
Amazon's Jeff Bezos has also discussed using his intuition to identify promising new markets. He's been quoted as saying, "I believe in the power of wandering. All of my best decisions in business and in life have been made with heart, intuition, guts... not analysis."
There's something to be said for "trusting your gut" — don't be afraid to rely on your intuition when making difficult business decisions.