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  • Macalister Bali

Intuition Is Neither Magic Nor Nonsense.



Everyone experiences gut feelings. From matters of personal safety to decision making and relationships, the gut speaks to us. These intuitive clues come to us in many forms and will rarely steer you wrong. In my experience, gut feelings are a combination of wisdom, experience, and an innate intuition. Wise entrepreneurs listen to their inner voice and others don't even acknowledge it or deny their ability to access intuitive hunches. Perhaps these insights will help.


In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, business owners have had to make difficult decisions they never thought they would often on short notice with minimal time to prepare. In a matter of weeks and even just days, they have faced business-critical choices, such as whether to pivot or change revenue streams, whether to furlough employees or even whether to close.


Intuition is big data for your body. It’s the result of your body’s own algorithms processing millions of data points that surround you every day. That’s why more than 40% of CEOs say they still make decisions based on intuition, despite having access to troves of empirical data.


Don’t get me wrong, data and analytics bring a lot to the business table. But there’s a balance to be struck between putting blind trust in computer-generated reports and learning to listen to the wealth of information conveyed through a good old-fashioned gut feeling.


What I’ve learned from those experiences is that it’s not enough to learn to trust your gut you also have to learn to make the business case for why others should trust it, as well.


Sometimes this means backing up your body’s “big data” with more traditionally accepted analytics. If I’d gone into meetings armed with my track record of successfully spotting trends backed up with some hard numbers on how those had panned out in record profits I might have been more successful in promoting my vision.


These days, I have other techniques I use to verify that my instinct is on track. For example, we all have biases, fears and preconditioned ways of looking at the world that can cloud our judgement. So I’ve found it invaluable to assemble a panel of people who have experience in areas where I don’t, be it in real estate, compensation or negotiation.


If I’m feeling uneasy about a business transaction, I’ll bounce my concerns off my trusting advisors or network. Usually, they’re able to pinpoint what’s causing the problem for me and flag potential solutions. It could be something as simple as adding an extra clause in a contract, or specifying a certain condition for satisfaction. It doesn’t mean I have to take their advice, but it’s silly of me not to use it in the decision-making process.


Remember that choosing the right path for your company isn’t formulaic. You can’t go with your gut all of the time, but neither can you always trust data alone. The right decisions are usually a combination of both data and instincts. But in times of uncertainty, like the one many people find themselves in today, it’s especially important that you listen to the inner voice guiding you towards what’s best.