3 Reasons “Trust Your Gut” Is Bad Advice

The accomplished business owners I work with often attribute their success to the philosophy of “trust your gut” when it comes to big decisions. They’ve come to rely on their own internal compass, assuming that pivotal decisions, key hires, and even strategic direction can best be judged by the elusive “instinct” that got them where they are.

Then they get stuck.

Because trusting your gut will only get you so far. Here’s why:

  1. Your gut keeps you in the comfort zone. It favors the familiar, deferring to choices that feel right precisely because you’ve seen these answers before. Some people call that the voice of experience, which is valuable in a familiar landscape. But when you’re in uncharted territory (which is where a growing business should be on a regular basis), staying in the comfort zone is dangerous.
  2. It steers you to the wrong advisors. Your gut loves surrounding you with people you know, like family, friends, and a spouse or significant other. These people provide essential support, motivating and encouraging you when things get tough. What they don’t do well is provide an outside perspective or challenge your assumptions. They simply know you too well. They don’t want to hurt your feelings or damage the relationship, so they keep you safe, not realizing how much that can hurt your business.
  3. It avoids risk. Your gut rarely leads you to the edge. It takes those big ideas and waters them down, making them more palatable, less scary. It tells you that money is tight, so you should cut back on investing in things like marketing, precisely when you should double up. It makes you question decisions, second-guessing both your own intellect and empirical data, causing you to miss opportunities and stick with the status quo.

If you find yourself wondering why business is slow, why you should be growing but aren’t, take a look at how you operate. Do you go with your gut too often? Should you be seeking outside counsel or making more objective decisions? Is it time to reassess your peer group and find advisors who don’t mind telling you what you really need to know (even when that’s hard)?

Maybe it’s time for a change.

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