Making decisions in the blink of an eye
While waiting for an appointment yesterday, I picked up a book in the waiting room. It was entitled "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" by Malcolm Gladwell. I was thoroughly engrossed by the time the woman I was meeting with showed up, and had to tear myself away. The premise of the book was that we have the ability to make instant decisions "in the blink of an eye" that are good, accurate, and valid ... based on information that we're not conscious that we've collected and processed. The idea caught my attention, and meshed well with the things that percolated in my head while away on vacation last week ... about living fully in the present, rather than planning, plotting, or worrying about the future for much of my day.
Do you make instant decisions? Live fully in the moment? Use your intuition? I use intuition a lot in my coaching, and the more I run with it, the better the session turns out. Instant reactions to a client's expression, asking crazy questions, pushing buttons that I suspect might be hiding underneath the surface ... it's all the same. How many times have you had a gut reaction to something, stopped and analyzed it, researched it, and come to a different conclusion, only to regret the second choice down the road? Last year I had a painful reminder of that while dining at a restaurant. I ordered a seared sashimi tuna salad, and after one bite of tuna I instinctively knew something wasn’t quite right. It didn’t taste bad, but everything in me rejected it. I forced it all down anyway, telling myself it tasted and looked fine ... and ended up with the most horrible case of food poisoning I’ve ever had in my life. I won’t ignore that hunch again!
What is intuition anyway? The dictionary calls it “The act or faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of rational processes; immediate cognition.” That hunch or gut feeling that says “I know the way to go here, but have no idea why.” The more I live fully in the moment, and give people and situations and environments my complete and undivided attention, the better my intuition works. It’s like we have antennae we’re not aware of, constantly gathering information and filing it away for future reference. Our brains are able to process things far faster than we realize, and we act on those stored ideas before we’re even aware we had them.
Blink. (Stop. Close down. Reopen, refreshed.)
To address the other side of the coin, what happens when that hunch turns out to be a bad one? It happens ... you’re sure but then it doesn’t turn out so well. What gives? We all have certain default beliefs and actions that get in the way at times ... they’re not rational, consciously or unconsciously, but we still hold them close to our hearts. Sometimes those ideas cloud our more fluid decisions, and turn us away from what we instinctively know to be good. In my food poisoning example, I believed that I’d be teased for avoiding raw fish, (after other guests had already made “I can’t believe you eat that” comments about it), and I (irrationally) decided that forcing it down was more important than a teasing comment or two ... resulting in a truly painful ‘gut’ reaction! Keep an eye out for your defaults, and flag them when they trip you up. They CAN be changed!
Blink. Stay aware, stay open, be fully present. What's your gut reaction? Run with it!