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The Gut

Do you ever get that feeling about an opportunity or a situation and it just doesn’t feel right, but you do it anyway?  Then you get into it and realize you’ve made a mistake.  “Trust your gut” is a saying I have heard a hundred times.  It sounds so trite and irresponsible.  The gut isn’t data, nor is it facts.  It is that underlying uneasiness that has you unsettled about a situation.


I recently had to unwind a business relationship that cost me big time.  I had to talk myself into it and so did the other guy.  Our guts were telling us it didn’t make sense, but we wanted it to work out.  We had been working with each other for years and on paper it looked okay.  That should have been our first piece of evidence – “okay” in a business relationship isn’t good enough.  The long-term vision was solid and that was the basis for justifying the partnership.  So, the numbers were okay, and the long-term vision and value was there.  Yet, it just didn’t feel right.  We plowed ahead, sticking our heads in the proverbial sand about our gut.  Less than a year into the new partnership, my friend came to me and said “I want out”.  So, an incalculable number of hours and energy went up in smoke.  The short-term plan had a major gap in it.  That gap was me.  I put the pedal down on implementing a long-term vision without enough effort on the short term.  I had moved on without taking the time to establish credibility with my new partner.  The plan took too long and never really stabilized, so he wanted out.


My head said yes, but my heart said no.  This poor decision cost me $250K and am in no better situation than I was before the partnership.  The best way to learn is by making decisions and taking actions.  Sometimes the decision leads to success and sometimes to failure.  There is a lesson to be learned in every decision, especially decisions that result in failure.


My number one lesson is to trust my gut when it is telling me something doesn’t feel right.  I will listen as long as it is not fear of the unknown.  The unknown is where nearly all our growth occurs.  It is uncomfortable.  It requires us to push beyond and as a result, the unknown stretches us.  The unknown increases our capacity and can help us gain clarity about what we are all about.


Lesson two is to develop a scorecard for all new opportunities.  The scorecard is simply a list of questions that are rated on a scale of 1-10.  Tally the score and compare to the “yes” range.  If it is not in the range, immediately say “no.”  The question we must ask – what is our gut telling us?  If the scorecard says “yes” but the gut says “no”, get very clear on the desired outcome and the level of commitment to achieve that outcome.  If you aren’t all in, don’t succumb to the peer pressure.  Move on.


Humans have amazing intuition.  So, the next time it just doesn’t feel right, do yourself a favor and better understand what the gut is telling you.  I can give you $250K reasons to listen.

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