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When Your Gut Speaks, Do You Listen?

Posted Mar 09 2011 3:12pm

Earlier today I had an exploratory phone call with a potential client.  In the end I turned down the work.

And boy did that feel good.

My first contact was through email and as soon as I read the information my gut stirred in a way that said, “Do not take this gig”. When you’re self-employed, it’s easy to get seduced by the money. I confided in someone I trust to test my theory. After a short conversation, my gut feeling was validated. Wrong gig for me.

One of the many things I’ve learned over the past five years of self-employment is that it’s better to politely decline work than take it if the end result is not a win-win. In this case my skill set didn’t match their needs. I’ve also learned to pay attention to the feeling in my gut, literally a stirring in my stomach followed by tension in my jaw and forehead. This physical response begs me to listen up and listen closely.

Decisions require a combination of data, risk assessment, gut instinct and confidence. Although not the only indicator, my gut is a key component whether I’m assessing work, people or my physical environment.

It took some time to pay attention to my gut and I’m not always on target. What helps?

  • Asking questions like: Am I afraid because this is new or is it really beyond my scope of ability?
  • Meditating or sitting quietly in order to pay attention to the stirring in my stomach. Sometimes distractions are not helpful.
  • Writing down my thoughts. I write down every possible scenario, often in response to the question above.
  • Getting a new perspective. Talking it through with someone I trust is incredibly helpful. Even though the decision is mine, the outside perspective may shed some light I hadn’t noticed.

How about you? When you’re gut speaks do you listen? How has paying attention to your instincts worked for or against you?

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