Trevor McClintock Advice Blog

The Swing Between Difficult Decisions Made Through Gut Or Fact

Trevor McClintock, change agent and entrepreneur, discusses getting the balance right between gut and fact when making difficult decisions.

As business leaders, we have to make hard choices on a daily basis.

But should we use our gut feeling to do so or make an informed decision based on all the facts?

Trust your gut

The gut is an amazing piece of the human body’s digestive system has influenced personal and business decision-making for centuries.

And apparently, the gut is still alive and well as a business tool inside today’s corporate environment – with over 40% of business professionals believing decisions are still primarily based on “gut feeling.”

In a normal business day, managers can be faced with numerous complex decisions and can often be overwhelmed by processing all of the variables when tasked with making the right choice.

It’s no wonder then that more often than not, they will rely on their intuition or gut-feeling.

But what exactly is gut feeling?

Research has found that 95% of our decision-making is not affected by conscious rational thinking, but rather motivated largely by our emotions – our gut.

There’s no such thing a purely rational decision – our brains use a combination of logic and emotion when making a decision.

To draw an example of this, we only have to look at golf legend, Gary Player who often recalls this story.

During one practice, he performed a hole in one and an onlooker betted him fifty bucks if he could hole the second shot.

Player of course stepped up to the challenge and the shot went in.

So the onlooker said “OK, $100 if you do it again.”

Sure enough, the third shot went in and the onlooker paid up, saying, “I’ve never seen anyone so lucky in my entire life.”

Player responded, “Well, the more I practice the luckier I get!”

Essentially, we can all improve our intuition or gut feeling with experience, much like Gary Player’s dedication to practice increases the probability of his success.

His gut feeling told him that he’d be able to step up to the challenge (he could literally put money on it) but this is because he knew he had the skill and experience to perform the shot.

To hone our intuition, we need to give our brain more emotional information to work with through life experience to increase the probability of success for any given gut decision.

Basically, the more we experience the more accurate our guts become.

Get all the facts

When faced with a difficult dilemma, we should carefully assess our options and spend time consciously deliberating the information.

Because why play Russian Roulette when we’re surrounded by so much data and analytics?

While a bit of intuition is okay, sound business decisions are of course based on facts, data analysis, trend spotting, or other complex calculations.

Relying solely on gut feeling implies uncertainty and does not guarantee a good outcome.

It’s all about getting the right balance on what we know is good and what we feel is the right answer.

And as we highlighted above, the more experience we have, the more accurate our gut becomes.

Over to you

But what do you think?

How do you make difficult decisions?

Are you more of an analytical thinker who prefers to have all the information laid out for you before making an informed decision, or do you often find yourself going with your gut?

Let me know in the comments below.

And if you need any more advice on anything we’ve discussed above, be sure get in touch with me today.

Trevor McClintock

Trevor McClintock

Trevor McClintock is a world-leading business consultant and expert strategist with over 25 years' experience in developing and re-organising businesses. Contact him today and make your dreams a reality.


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