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Four Strategies for Listening to Your Gut

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I recently wrote this post on how we need to rebrand the notion of a gut-instinct as being an individual’s “faster intelligence.” This gives gut reactions the credit they deserve (speed, accuracy, and moral astuteness). Rebranding the expression is only the first step, though. We need to develop mechanisms to make this faster intelligence louder, more lucid, and more pronounced. There are likely hundreds of ways that we can better listen to our more intuitive self. That said, to get the ball rolling, below are four examples of how to liberate your faster intelligence.

1. Flip a coin.

Need to make an extremely important decision that could change the course of your life for the months or years to come? An easy way to help make that decision is to simply flip a coin. Sound haphazard? Well, I’m serious. Teju Ravilochan, the fearless leader of the Unreasonable Institute, is the one who first led me to this decision making strategy. If you are torn between a binary decision (i.e. trying to decide whether or not to do something), flip a coin and assign tails to “yes” and heads to “no.” Then, when the coin lands on either side, listen to the immediate gut reaction you feel to the results of the coin toss. If you feel a sense of sadness or disappointment, then you know that you need to do the opposite of what the coin told you. Conversely, if you feel a sense of relief with the results of the coin toss, then you should go with what the coin demands. In short, that immediate internal reaction is your faster intelligence telling you which way to go.

We need to develop mechanism to make our intuition, louder, more lucid, and more pronounced.  Tweet This Quote

2. Drink beer.

The Foundry Group in Boulder has a simple value that I love. Before they will invest into a prospective startup, they ask themselves if the team they are going to invest in passes the “beer test.” In short, is it a team of individuals who they would enjoy having a beer with. If the answer is yes, then they move forward with looking at the deal; if the answer is no, they won’t place the investment and they discontinue exploring the opportunity. It’s a simple framework that I believe allows the partners at Foundry to easily listen to their faster intelligence when placing an investment.

3. Eat dinner.

An incredible team leader who I’ve became close friends with on Unreasonable at Sea, Caroline Whaley, once told me a simple framework for knowing if you are working with the right team or not. She asked me to consider that if I went to dinner with my team, are there people I’d rather sit next to and others who I’d hope I didn’t get sat next to? If the answer here is yes, that likely means you need to have a serious heart to heart conversation with the people you don’t want to sit next to as something is clearly off.

4. Surround yourself.

There’s a saying that you are the amalgamation of the five people who you spend the majority of your time with. If this is true, then I highly recommend ensuring that you spend a great deal of time with the type of people who will help give you permission to follow your intuition and listen to your faster intelligence. If none of the people you spend the majority of your time with encourage you along this trajectory, then I suggest seeking out a new friend or two, or immersing yourself into a new community, in addition to your current friends. Maybe you will even be able to find that community here, at UNREASONABLE.is.

If I can point to these four frameworks so quickly, there are likely many more out there. I’m excited to hear if you have any methods or have heard of any additional frameworks that help make your faster intelligence louder, clearer, and more grounded. Please feel free to brainstorm in the comments section below.

Daniel Epstein

About the author

Daniel Epstein has an obsession. He believes to his core in the potential of entrepreneurship to solve the greatest challenges of this century and he has dedicated his...

Daniel Epstein has written 21 articles for UNREASONABLE.is

  • http://Unreasonable.Is/ Cat George

    the beer test= brilliant. Fellow readers, any additional suggestions for strategies to effectively listen to your gut? Would love to know!

  • http://unfilteredagency.com/ Rustin Sage Coburn

    Love this !
    So it may sound pretty cliche, but I find that the more present I am in a situation…. I mean really being in the moment and listening…. my “gut” speaks out very loud and very clear. My ” faster intelligence” is cranked way up when I am fully present. Now to be more present, a few simple tricks are focus on your breathing and give the people you are with, or the parameters of the situation, your undivided attention. Rest, food, and exercise help too :)
    Thoughts?

  • Hanna Boyd

    The importance of “surrounding yourself” resonates with me the most. When family, friends and co-workers encourage me to “go with my gut,” I instantly feel supported. But perhaps even more importantly, I feel trusted. They trust that the life experiences I’ve had so far give “my gut” and “faster intelligence” the credibility it deserves. So, if I find myself questioning whether it’s irresponsible to make one decision over another, I’m not afraid to check in with my “faster intelligence” and know that if the decision I make feels a little irrational, I need to trust it (just like those who surround me do).

  • http://www.expat-journal.com/ Rob S

    I often use the coin flip method. In fact, I keep coins from different countries on my desk for that very purpose. I don’t use them often, but when I do, tossing a coin gets me unstuck very quickly.

  • Michelle Miller

    Based on results, I’ve found that the opportunities that arise spontaneously, my gut embraces the most. Trusting my gut is key as it has never let me down. Because even if things don’t “work out” as intended, I trust I’m capable to make it happen. Gut+Trust =Unstoppable