Ah, yes, the “gut feeling”.
We’ve all experienced it.
But do you need to pay attention? Do you need to listen?
I jumped out my car, still on the phone. My mother was still telling her story and I don’t like interrupting her so I stand in the parking lot of the trailhead, and I listen.
This can be problematic for me because once my brain is in ‘run’ mode, it understands that I need to shut down certain body systems. But… I was still in the parking lot, listening, stretching.
When I finally got off the call, I needed to reset my brain… time to run.
About a quarter mile in my body reminded me that I’d caused a reset standing in the parking lot and well, I had the lightest of pings in my gut.
Right then… I should have turned around. There was a bathroom at the parking lot, I could have turned around, gotten rid of the extra fluid and started my run again. But… alas… I’m stubborn.
At the half mile mark, I did an assessment.
Yeah, I’m good, I can totally do this. I’ll run a mile. Turn around and it will be fine.
Right then… I should have turned around. My gut was not just having a “feeling” at this point, my gut was really trying to get my attention.
And it crossed my mind… turn around… but I didn’t listen.
At the mile mark, my “gut feeling” was more like a “gut yelling” and it was not happy.
I realized at this point that getting back to the parking lot was not going to be fun.
When you’re exercising and you’re dealing with discomfort or pain, you pile on the stress.
Your heart rate goes up a little, your body starts to tense up, your brain starts to try to figure out what to do. Running now becomes more difficult.
With each footfall my bladder is now screaming at me and it’s not saying anything nice.
By the time I reached the parking lot, I was exhausted!
After hitting the bathroom, I was able to continue on and run a few more miles but I was tired.
Why didn’t I listen?
The truth is… I glanced at the bathroom while I was in the parking lot but brushed it off. That was the initial “gut feeling” and I probably should have paid attention… I didn’t.
So do we always need to take heed when the “gut feeling” sets in? And, how can we know if our guts are telling us the truth?
We all know what the “gut feeling” is and we’ve all felt it in our businesses. It’s that moment when something doesn’t seem quite right, when something feels off, when someone feels not quite right.
We either pay attention or ignore, sometimes we make the wrong decision and that’s because that “gut feeling” is complicated.
So what can we do when the feeling flashes at us?
- Stop. Step back and take a minute to really think about whether or not you are actually feeling something worth paying attention to or if you’ve simply had too many French fries at lunch. Sometimes the pinging in your gut is just a knee-jerk reaction to multiple stimuli. Stopping to pay attention to the feeling you’re having allows you to do the next step.
- Assess. What is your gut actually telling you? And, is it a message worth exploring? Begin to look at what might have sparked the feeling. Start to weigh the consequence of not listening. Had I done this… I could have had a more enjoyable run and not spent time looking for a nice big bush… just in case!
- Decide. Weigh the pros and cons of following your gut. After assessing, think about how your decision will affect things moving forward. Sometimes the possible outcomes will cause very subtle ripples and sometimes the ripples will be big. Either way, pay attention moving forward because there are times when you can still switch gears if things start to go south.
To listen or not to listen…
Not listening to your gut doesn’t always end in trail running catastrophe, but it can cause us to miss important cues to important choices.
If we fail to listen and things start to go south it can cause us to lose focus, stress us out, even cause overwhelm.
Our “gut feelings” are indicators. Generally, it’s our brains simply trying to raise a red flag for us to pay attention.
No one wants to miscalculate or misread a situation, so giving our inner voice some attention is never bad thing. It takes just a few minutes to stop and assess.
How do you handle your “gut feelings”?