Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I've Got The Feeling

A couple of years ago I read a book that had quite a big effect on me. I can't remember the exact name of it but I'd like to share a bit about it with you. The book was about gut feelings, those instincts that we all have and all feel deep within our stomach, the ones that aren't caused by indigestion or Christmas spirit.

The book told stories of firemen who have evacuated a building just because they have "felt" an imminent danger, to see the roof cave in seconds after, of scientists who have followed a hunch and made world changing discoveries. Frankly that term "world changing" is one that I have come up with and I'm not sure about it, but we'll give it a try and see if there's any feedback.

Aforementioned book told of all these kind of examples, in which people have reacted to a set of events, in which they have sensed things and acted accordingly but usually without having the time to rationalise their thoughts and to figure out in a logical way what the mind is doing.

Like when you're crossing a road and you hear a car horn (ok, this bit isn't really applicable to anyone is SL!). So you hear the horn and just move the fuck out of the way, or stop in your tracks. You don't consciously think "That's a car horn, I better react by stopping or jumping"

No, you just react in a split second and it's automatic.

The book told me that we all have gut feelings, these natural instincts, but we're not all in touch with them and we don't always acknowledge them. As I thought of myself and my own behaviour and thoughts it dawned on me that this is very true. There have been so many occasions when I've had a hunch or a feeling about something but I've then thought things through, looked at logic and facts or figures and negated my feeling.

These gut feelings, the theory goes, are powerful cumulations of all our life experiences and knowledge. Our subconscious mind stores all this stuff and uses it as it feels is necessary, but our conscious mind is still wondering how to deal with that morning's erection in a sarong. Sometimes we act impulsively and just do things, other times we stop and think consciously about the situation and use logic and ridiculous things like that.

The biggest example of this in my life is interviewing people, something I do a sizeable amount of. Salespeople specifically. For many years I went through a pattern. It was a pattern of interviewing someone, feeling that they weren't right for the role, then being talked out of that feeling by a combination of my business partner and logic. Then, in far too many cases, we'd take on the person, try to give them everything they needed to succeed but end up parting company after considerable expense.

I saw that, in so many of these cases, I was going against my gut feeling because logic and rational thought, or things written on a CV, would override my instincts. You know, I'd have a hunch that a person couldn't sell, but everything on the CV indicated that he could and I couldn't really explain my hunch.

One of the things I've tried to do, and am still working on in a very large way, is to pay far more attention to my gut feelings, to acknowledge and recognise them and then to act on them. Because the fact is that I do have a certain amount of experience in life and the bits and pieces that go with it. A lot of it's about trust, about trusting my own judgement, which is often wrong yet often right too.

This all came to my mind because I did an interview yesterday for a salesperson and the chap had all the right qualities, both on paper and in the way he came across. The me from a few years ago would have offered him the job. This me however was different. As soon as I shook hands with the bloke and introduced myself I thought he was a twat. I can't tell you why, not because of confidentiality or anything, just because I don't know. So he wasn't offered the job. But the feeling was there in me and I felt rather pleased that I've grown enough to be able to acknowledge it and also that I acted on it.

That's it for now, I must learn how to do endings.


Darwin said...

I generally hedge my bets and rarely form a good impression of someone upon the first meeting, I prefer to remain neutral and leave the door open for their eventual future cock-ups.

That said even when I do eventually 'accept' someone as an alright person, he/she can still on occasion astound with me sheer idiocy and make me think "what the fuck was I on to think this person wasn't a complete wanker".

So by default my gut feeling tells me to remain neutral until proven otherwise.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Mmmm... very interesting Ms Darwin. (scratching chin) I don't think that's a gut feeling. I think that's more a right brain logical way of approaching things, which may be very in character with your scientific bent too. I think the gut feeling is what happens instantly and uncontrollably.

Pink Mist said...

Was the book 'Blink' by Malcolm Gladwell? He talks about 'thin slicing' where your subconscious makes a split second analysis of a situ using past experience.

Makes sense I think... I've gotten vibes off ppl too.. and predicted a few really freaky things that are inexplicable.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Pink Mist - Yes that's the one, thanks for that.

cerno said...

Every time I've ignored my gut feeling about a person or a situation I've ended up in a mess. Thankfully I've learnt my lesson :)


T said...

i used to go by an instant assessment of people, which had worked impressively well for me up until this year, and now suddenly it seems all out of whack.
but i go by gut feeling on a lot of other things. you're right, it does come from experience about a particular thing.

The Benevolent Dictator said...

If ever I have this strange sense that I'm missing something when I leave the house, it always, always means I have infact forgotten something. Had never failed.