The Entrepreneur Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “When making a tough business decision, how do you know when to trust your gut?” is written by Lizanne Falsetto, founder of ThinkThin.
If we’re born with instinct, what, then, keeps us from heeding that deep-down gut feeling? If we always chased the butterflies in our stomach, think how many situations might just turn out for the better.
As entrepreneurs, growth depends on our timely instinct. As we move toward a more data-driven economy, we must learn how to find the proper balance between data and intuition, and, when appropriate, we must practice trusting intuitive gut decisions over data.
As the saying goes, “I’d rather be old school than a new fool.” But that doesn’t mean listening to our internal gut chronometer is easy.
In a turbulent and urgent situation, we all know how “loud” emotions—like anger and fear—can sound in our heads. They can fill your whole body with monumental impulses, which lead to dynamic outcomes. Intuition, on the other hand, is still, and it possesses more definitive and noble qualities that can be attributed to an emotion. It’s that quiet little voice that whispers sage advice into the ears of productivity.
In my 20-plus years of experience as a mother, wife, friend, sister, and, of course, a business owner, I’ve realized that when it comes to gut intuition, widely accepted ideas of what it is—something that’s known without proof of evidence—can lead to a misstep when approaching real-life intuition.
Usually, there’s always evidence of a “good” decision, provided it can sometimes reveal that we’re ignoring or simply having difficulty finding said evidence. Sometimes, we can be so blinded by a desire to see things the way we want to see them, we muzzle our intuition—and that’s turning an ear from wisdom.
When I think about the big decisions in my life—foregoing an athletic college scholarship to pursue an international modeling career; choosing to start a business in the very intimidating consumer-packaged-goods industry; enlisting a strong, experienced operator to run my company so that we could grow even more; and, now, selling my company for $217 million—the best decisions for me have come from my brain working in concert with my heart.
The oft-ignored truth is that your mind is only half of the equation. When you use your heart and brain together, you’ll be making a whole-body decision—one in which your intuition is fully engaged.
Whatever decision you’re facing, whether it’s which candidate to pick for your new lead marketing position or whether you want your packaging to be green or pink, follow these four steps for an optimal outcome: Stop, sit still, listen, and breathe.
The stillness of intuition requires a masterful ability to practice listening, which requires patience.
Thinking and listening in a clear space, or, more simply, “meditating,” about what you truly desire to achieve is how you dial into your intuition. Are you in negotiations for something? Write down what you know is right, and then stick to it.
When you’re calm and quiet, you’re not distracted by noise. When calls come in and things begin to get hectic, recall your desired outcome. Again, stick to it.
The more practice you have paying attention to how you feel about things and how they match up to your objectives, the easier it will be to do this even in the midst of chaos. From there, you begin to practice conscious living that supports the wellbeing of your business.
Read all responses to the Entrepreneur Insider question: When making a tough business decision, how do you know when to trust your gut?
The First Thing You Should Do Before Making a Tough Decision by Denise Terry, CEO of EmbraceFamily Health.
The Hardest Part of Being an Entrepreneur by Francesca Federico, cofounder and principal of Twelve Points.
Here’s Why Good Resumes Won’t Signal Promising Team Members by Randy Rayess, cofounder of VenturePact.
This is How Long it Should Take to Make a Decision by Tim Flannery, a venture partner at Pilot Mountain Ventures.
Why You Shouldn’t Think Twice About Firing an Employee by William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.
This is How the Most Successful Leaders Make Tough Decisions by Simon Berg, CEO of Ceros.
The Best Way to Make Fast Decisions by Vijay Ramani, cofounder and CEO of Totspot.
What Every Leader Can Learn From Alfred P. Sloan About Tough Decisions by Frank Fabela, Vistage CEO peer advisory board chair.
Proof Data Can’t Always Help You Make Decisions by Morgan Hermand-Waiche, founder and CEO of Adore Me.
Doing This Will Help You Make Tough Decisions by Suneera Madhani, founder and CEO of Fattmerchant.
Here’s What Happens When You Don’t Trust Your Gut by Gesche Haas, founder of Dreamers//Doers.
Here’s What You Should Do When You Have to Make a Tough Decision by Alexander Goldstein, founder and CEO of Eligo Energy.
Never Make a Big Decision Without Doing This First byFeris Rifai, cofounder and CEO of Bay Dynamics.
Here’s How Questioning Decisions Can Ruin a Business by Pat Peterson, founder and CEO of Agari.