Decision Making- Do you listen to your gut (feeling) – Are you gut-sy (do you act on it?)

Greetings everyone,

This is another unique, out-of-the-box Thinking Coach Insight, coming your way and hopefully one that will trigger something different. As you may know by now, these insights include new perceptions that I gather from my every day life experience, experience as a trainer and speaker and intelligence that seem to appear and reveal new levels of knowledge, which I am happy to share.

I must share a secret of the profession- I learn a great deal by giving- whenever I conduct a seminar new intelligence appears, which sheds new light and provides new level of knowledge and understanding that I didn’t have before. It has been that way for the past 20 years. Consequently I have had to constantly update my material after every presentation- Strange? Maybe, it depends if you view life as a fixed affair or as a sequence of unraveling, exciting, incomplete, ever evolving state off affairs.

The deeper perception to be gained here is that the way to receive is by giving from that which you cannot contain any longer- your overspill. There are many ways to give, which can range from speaking, demonstrating, doing and anything that moves something from inside to outside of you. So when you learn something new, believe in it, become excited by it and consequently attempt to enact it in your life in some fashion, it becomes a giving circumstance and the next level appears from somewhere, and that is because when you give you make space for the bigger picture to unfold through you.

We tend to think in bottom lines - it’s good for me …it’s not good for me, I like it…I dislike it, it’s too much…It’s too little, but I think that that is the small world that we adapt as form of what is called “magnetic safety”, a comfort zone that doesn’t challenge us, or what is referred to as The Box. This comfort zone, which I have written about elsewhere, happens as a result of one of the greatest fear in humans:

So onwards we go to the insight which is about one of the most important subjects out there…Decision Making!

Decision making is at the heart of all that we do, from small every day decisions to long-term meaningful decisions that can change the course of our lives. It could be said that we are the sum total of all decisions we made in our life up to this day. So it’s important. The quality of any decision we make depends on what in us made the decisi

I just had a chance to conduct a seminar on decision making to 50 top executives of a Fortune 500 company here in the US, which focused on how to include the Bigger Picture in the decision making process. As it often happens in my seminars the focus changed mid-flight because the need that presented itself was different. The focus became:

How to listen to and act upon the voice of your Gut feeling in Decision Making process?

A fascinating subject!

Typically, people tend to think that the process of decision making is structured, analytical, focused primarily on the left hemisphere of the brain. Although that is so to some extent, it is only a small part of the decision making process.

In this seminar that just concluded, the focus was on the significance of the right hemisphere of the brain in the decision making process. It soon became clear that what we call Gut Feeling needs special attention at these times.

Decisions Vs. Decision Making

There is a big difference between making decisions and decision making process, which I can’t really go into at length in this TCI. It demonstrates very well the difference between the small picture and the big picture. Decision making is an artful thinking/feeling process in which decisions appear as natural bi-products. Most decisions that people make today could be classified as defensive decisions or decisions of convenience, precipitated by the fear of the unknown. The problem is that such decisions take our life on a particular course, based on some fear from our past experience- unfortunately, very often the wrong kind of fear. It begs the questions; what are the right kind of fears? Doesn’t it?

What are Gut Feelings?

When we say Gut Feeling we try to say that something inside us knows better than we do. We can call it an instinct, voice of premonition, the unknown intelligence within. Whatever we call it, it is there and it knows and it wants to tell us things- especially about how to be and do in the future. Mmm…Sounds strange… if it is in us, it is us, isn’t it? Well let’s think about it because we can have different voices that speak to us from inside, don’t we? We tend to have selective listening which is biased to the noises we recognize ourselves by, or those that “make sense” to us that we call logic. The only problem here is that our logic has been formed in our past and cannot automatically deal with the now or the future. I have consciously decided to give my gut a prime seat in my internal “board of directors” and it can say whatever it wants even if it’s completely opposite to my team of “logic specialists” who analyze everything to the nth degree. It also has its own timing-and it can deliver messages any time, night or day.

What stands between us and our Gut?

A whole bunch of stuff! But what a great question…a high level question…certainly unusual, but I would think very important. By asking such question, you are acknowledging a greater intelligence that lives in you that cannot be measured by machines or be quantified. In a way you are beginning to say Yes to the unknown- which is an excellent start if you are truly interested in the bigger picture…of you!

Let’s continue this out-of-the-box exploration and see what else prevents us from hearing and acting on the voice of our Gut in our life;

The brain

For the last 28 years this has been for me a subject of intense and passionate research and exploration with many discipline exercises, not in the physical sense per se, but more in the meta-physical and the behavioral patterns of the brain and the relationship it had with me. I am still researching! The brain is an amazing computer that makes the most sophisticated computer invented by man look like a child’s toy. It also has a life of its own that relies on information that is fed to it. We eat hamburgers and chips, our brain eats information and impressions. The better quality food it gets the better its level of interpretation. Just like our body, you give it quality organic food it will do better for you, give it junk and it will be sluggish- same for the brain, junk thoughts and information make it lazy, tired and unwilling. What does that have to do with Gut feelings? Well, if the brain operates on low fuel it becomes noisy and lazy, it wants to control everything and it doesn’t like something else interfering with its control. It becomes the “neighborhood bully” so it overrides the soft voice of the Gut. It will tell you that it’s all nonsense and is not founded in anything real.

And if that’s not enough it gets help from its close buddy The Lower Emotions!

Feelings

I’ll be the first to tell you that feelings are very sensitive and extremely important part of the human and play a huge role in decision making process.
But a distinction needs to be made here between different kinds of feelings. Those that are based in the lower emotions and those that originate in the higher emotions.

It will take a lot more than a newsletter to explain this, but as a simple beginning…feelings that originate in the lower emotions need to be evacuated deliberately and safely from us -these feelings are based in self doubts, in gain and loss, in likes and dislikes, in low self esteem, in unfounded worries, in past traumas and negative experiences, in fear of being found at fault, in fear of losing control (of the known…) in guilt, shame, fear of rejection and countless of other similar hindrances. We all have these feelings in one form or another and it’s ok- they need to be let go and evacuated through regular release practices. Important to do that!

However, one should never make decisions based on such feelings – because they often lie!

They are not the truth of what is happening, they taint the truth! They reflect the lack of inner peace in us, as a result of negative mental/emotional influence in our past.

This kind of feelings cause a lot of internal noise in which the gut feelings cannot be heard
Analogy to keep in mind

By analogy, this kind of feelings can be likened to an aviation anomaly- it’s a well known fact that a pilot can fly a plane up-side-down and think they are flying right-side-up, and if it wasn’t for their sophisticated electronic instruments they would crash! Here is the important fact- The pilot does not know without the instruments that he is on a collision course! And by analogy, isn’t it true that we all develop negative patterns of decision making that are based on lower emotional feelings that distort the truth for us? These patterns seem to repeat themselves, where we seem to make same mistakes and collide with the future instead of adapting to its needs.

Continuing this analogy; what in this analogy would be the human’s electronic instrument panel?

Well, these are human qualities, a core of stability inside us that is based in long-term values, standards, principles, what we say No to, our purpose in life, the thankfulness we have for what shares in our life, the appreciation of small things that we don’t take for granted, our ability to forgive, what we love, what we care about and other similar qualities. That’s our panel of electronic instrument that tells us we are flying through the journey of our life right-side-up. The feelings that originate from there are true friends and consultants of excellent decision making process and…through them we can hear our gut feelings- because our gut feeling are the Supreme Feelings that have access to extra ordinary knowledge.

Personal story

I had just returned to Florida from that seminar I wrote about earlier on, the one that precipitated this TCI. It was couple of days before 9/11. Something in me was nudging me to go to NY- which I discounted because it made no sense to leave the next day. But it didn’t let go. So I thought, ok let me try and see what happens. I checked a few last minute travel websites and to my surprise found an incredibly cheap next-day airline ticket to NYC. Next, made a call to a friend, who was delighted to host me for couple of days- To my surprise within 10 minutes it was all arranged. I had a place to stay and an airline ticket. It seemed ever so smooth. Everything fell into place…so, decided to go. The charm of spontaneity continued- as the plane was about to land in NYC I was looking from the window and just to my left I see The US Open Tennis Center full of people- that was a sight to see…and it tickled my fancy (Tennis is a hobby of mine). When we landed, without much thinking, I got into a cab and heard myself asking the driver to take me to the tennis center. Well, it happened to be the most desired day of the tournament, men’s and lady’s semi- final day, which featured the top 8 players in the world, so needless to mention that the event was totally sold-out. There I was, by the stadium without a ticket, scalpers asking for $1000 dollars per ticket … I knew I was going to get in, just didn’t know how. Something knew and I listened to it. What followed was a strange turn of events, which I could have never predicted or instigated with my logical mind – The result …I got in within 10 minutes with paying very little! (I’ll let your imagination guess how it happened but it was too fantastic to imagine…that I can tell you) and…and I got a great seat! That was just the beginning, one thing led to another, a bucket-full of life lessons from everywhere…It really opened my eyes to something I have never seen before about human nature. I learned a great deal about the meaning of the words “to get out of the way”. It was like surfing on the waves, the waves were doing all the work and I just gently stirred the direction. My gut was doing fantastically well without me controlling anything.

The next day met with friends who went to a 9/11 memorial and there had quite an engagement with people I have never met before, which opened all sorts of doors and possibilities that I never expected. Much more happened on that trip that would be too much to get into here- but the point is that something was leading me along safely, wisely, smoothly. These 48 hours in NY appeared from nowhere and I could have easily missed it had I not listened to my gut. Clearly, something in me knew and led me to do something ‘illogical” which I can tell you that in retrospect turned out to be very logical, but then again, we may need to redefine what logic is, especially in these changing times.

It is easy to understand the big picture in hindsight, in retrospect, and see how things developed to cause an unforeseen result. It is altogether another skill to “fetch” the big picture of the future, to have allowance for it to appear and thereby allow it space in us. It may well be that to have view of the big picture of the future you need t

Acting on your gut feeling

How to do it? How do I know for sure? I can hear these questions…well I can tell you there is no “Gut Insurance” being sold out there! So don’t think that this extra ordinary quality in you will cater to your usual ways of how you deal with known things. It won’t! We need to learn to communicate with ourselves better. Often, when we think of communication we think of it as an activity between people- well, please step out of the box and re-think. The big picture of communication is between you and you.

What else?

Your gut needs your trust! It needs you to believe in it and it needs your courage for you to act on it. So you call upon these qualities in you, for without them your gut feelings cannot be expressed. You see, your gut doesn’t understand your calculated mind- it does however understand the future and wants you to succeed in it. You learn to listen to your gut, ask it what it wants to let you know, how to think about certain issues that may be causing you doubts, and then wait- the answer won’t come immediately, it has its own timing. But if you persist and show it regular interest and patience you will show it trust. And the voice of your gut will make small appearances at first, which in time will grow and become integral part of your life which will make you an excellent decision maker! (there is a notion about trust here which is if you want trust you need to show it first- that in another TCI yet to come) …and come to think about it, this is no different then the art of courting between a man and a woman- interesting thought!

Otherwise you will let your fear of the unknown, your famous fear of rejection, your doubts and insecurities control the flight of your life and they will most certainly turn you upside down!

Remember, none of us is perfect, we all make mistakes and, believe it or not, how we deal with mistakes is a major ingredient in inviting our Gut Feelings to the table of our Decision Making. That means don’t be hard on yourself and others when they make mistakes because mistakes are only part of new learning and they are natural.

Well, that’s it for now! That’s the real short version, the tip of the iceberg, as abbreviated as I could make it! Much, much more can be written about this fascinating subject but hopefully this helps a bit as a start. Your views, comments and questions are always welcome and will be answered as time permits.

Eli Harari

P.S I had made a mistake on the previous TCI which I thought was number 55, because I wrote it on my 55th birthday and I got so enthusiastic at the apparent coincidence that I overlooked the fact that #54 wasn’t written. So this one is # 54 that follows # 55 -just a bit out-of-the-box!

Ciao, Eli