This is a quick reminder that your mind works a lot faster than you do.
If you truly believe you have no capacity for instinct, stop reading this now, look in the mirror and give yourself a good talking to. Everyone does.
I’m on a train about 15 mins from the station at the moment so I may have started this blog a bit strong and won’t have time to walk it back. So, just to be clear – everyone does have the capacity for instinct, but confirmation and sunk cost biases (blogs to come soon) to name but a few really get in the way of hearing them.
Instinct isn’t some ephemeral thing that twinkly-eyed grannies and pets have, it’s just your mind processing billions of pieces of information and serving up the ones it thinks you should be aware of. It’s partly the now classic ‘amygdala vs neocortex’ stuff that most business and motivation books are based on, and that I won’t drag us all through today.
Suffice to say that our brains have evolved to be extremely good at filtering information and giving us the bits we need to know. When it does that we act – we stop at the sign, we notice the falling tree, we step out of the way.
What about when the danger isn’t so clear or acute? Do we always get the message as clearly?
I would advocate spending as much time as possible listening to your mind or subconscious, and trying to understand it. The messages aren’t always clear because in the grand scheme of survival the dangers aren’t always as acute, but finding a way to learn the language of your subconscious, come to rely on it and trust it – but not overinterpret it – I think is one of the most important things you can do as a human, and definitely as a leader.
For me, and I can barely think if any times this has been wrong in the last however many years, it’s the simple phrase “if it smells fishy, it’s usually a fish”. If you think it’s not quite right, it probably isn’t.
That’s not to say don’t do it at all. I still do things I’m not sure about, but as I learn more about what my subconscious is trying to say, I get a better feel for why I think it’s fishy and in what way it’s going to cause me a problem.
Learning the language of your subconscious is a skill you can learn, and it’s one of the most valuable.