We all have instincts or intuitions from time to time that give us hints or clues about what to do or what we should do in certain situations. Some people call this trusting your gut feeling.
Whatever you call it, science is now confirming that these guesses are actually a process that your brain uses to help you determine the proper course of action.
The scientific journal Neuron published research that shows that trusting your instincts, or what they call “subliminal thinking,” actually allows people to correctly guess the right answer to a series of difficult questions.
Researchers at University College in London, England gave subjects such a test and later tested their brain waves. What they found was that in addition to getting the correct answers they could isolate the part of the brain where this instinctual thinking took place.
This might mean that they can train that part of the brain to perform better in the future but for now it means that you should probably trust your instincts more at work. A few ways to do this might include:
1. Starting Small
If you have a hunch that putting extra peanut butter in your baking mix might make better cookies, you might want to try out a small batch first. You can bake the twelve dozen for your friends and family later if the small batch comes out well.
Try out your instinct idea small at work. If it goes well, you can bigger. If it goes really well, you should tell your boss you’re on to the next big thing.
2. If It Sticks, Try It Out
Sometimes an idea keeps coming back into our head. It may be a new solution to an old problem or it may be what you first think is a crazy idea. But if it hangs on for a while then maybe your instincts are telling you to try it out.
At the very least you should write it down or share it with your co-workers. It may sound crazy to you but it may work for them. If the idea is good it will move forward on its own merit. If not, you don’t lose anything but your fear.
3. Make Your Box Bigger
Often our instincts will be giving us information that doesn’t fit neatly inside our box, our conventional thinking. That means we often ignore or dismiss these ideas as too radical or different. The next time you get a message from your instincts, try just listening closely without trying to frame it in your usual pattern.
It’s just an idea, so let your thinking and your box expand to let it express itself fully. If it truly is wacko, you can let it go. But it also just might be your stroke of brilliance.
4. Don’t Judge It
One of our first inclinations is to measure and judge our internal voices before the ideas behind them get a chance to form. The next time you have a gut feeling about something, just let it sit quietly inside of you. Write it down and park it there for later review.
It’s kind of like one-person brainstorming where you allow ideas and suggestions to rise and become more concrete without knocking the stuffing out of them as soon as they come up. Be patient, don’t judge and see what happens.
5. Measure Twice and Cut Once
Expert carpenters have a rule that they follow in order to get things right the first time. They take the measure of the wood they are about to cut, and then they measure it again before they actually cut it. This way they don’t ruin the wood they are working with and they get the result they want.
Our instincts are a great tool, but we also need to exercise caution before jumping too fast to implement our initial reaction to a situation. By all means trust your instincts, but double-check your ideas before putting them into play.
Do you let your instincts take the reins in your work? Let us know in the comments.(Photo Credit: Claudiana Gois)