When do you intuitively choose to do one thing when your rational brain instructs you to back off?
You hire someone who is absolutely brilliant but have no place for her/him now in your organization
You see an injustice at work and decide to be a whistle blower even if it costs you your job
You rescue a dog when the timing for an adoption is terrible
Why in such circumstances would you go with your gut rather than follow what seems better sense?
A week before we left Mexico we took our 4-year-old lab for a walk and sighted a bundle of shivering fur in the grass on a vacant field in a trash bag. We peeked into the bag to see two terrified eyes looking back up at us.
It was a 12-week-old abandoned puppy.
Our impulse was to pick it up and take it home but all the time our head told us “You must be crazy! You are in the middle of packing up your home in Mexico for a long road-trip to New Mexico. With all the stresses inherent in the moving process you cannot be serious about keeping the dog?
We usually balance heart and head. We do this by gauging the correctness of the decision based on either best practice from the past or a good outcome in the future. We had neither data source available.
So what is a gut instinct anyway?
There is a large body of research indicating that our stomach has its own brain very different from that in our head. It holds a capacity to evaluate a situation at an emotional level in a flash. It is an intuitive knowing. So it is not just a metaphor. It is a physiologically based instinct that we either trust or distrust and use or neglect.
Why did we rescue that puppy? What are some components of an instinctive decision?
At times there are seemingly random events that if carefully observed, form a pattern that eventually presents a compelling picture. We had been planning to rescue another dog anyway. But why this dog when we had seen dozens of seemingly abandoned dogs in our Mexican town? Such events don’t have to lead to a passive belief that “this was supposed to be.” Nor are they just a chance factors. In fact, they are a “message in a bottle” from the universe instructing us to act against what seems to be our better judgment.
In a world where at times it seems that it is “every person for him/herself” there are deeper values that operate like a moral GPS. These can come into play in gut level decisions if we are willing to attend to and build on them. Included in these values is a sense that as humans (and animals) we are all one. We have an obligation to take care of each other especially the weaker and disadvantaged in our midst.
In the case of the puppy we could not leave her in the field. Nor could we depend on the vet whom we had examine the puppy to adopt her out (the vet was willing). The universe had brought this helpless animal our way and we had to step up to the plate and adopt her.
We adopted Dixon (named after our new home town). She is now 5 months old, is slowly becoming house trained, and we are now only getting up a 5am with her barking for attention. We are deeply fond of her. Her and our older dog Sawyer are constantly playing with each other and romping all over our place in the country.
How were you guided when your head and heart contradicted each other in a major leadership decision?