By now we know about the power of first impressions (thanks to Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, among others). We form impressions very quickly (in seconds) and often those impressions have strong predictive power.
But the expression “go with your gut” sells this idea short – it implies your gut instead of your analytical mind…like your innards have some perceptive power that’s not possessed between your ears.
It’s not about choose which part of your body to listen to, it’s about acting on what you know is true, but that you’re afraid to do. For instance:
“I’m not crazy about what’s being proposed here, but I’ll let it kick around for a while instead of speaking up.”
“I don’t feel excited about hiring this person, but her qualifications are great, let’s push her on to the next round.”
“It feels like we’re moving too slowly here, but that’s what’s in our strategic plan.”
“The last thing we need is another policy, but I guess it’s the prudent thing to do.”
As Mike Karnjanaprakorn wrote about yesterday, one of the three (only three!) things the Head of Product at a company has to do to be successful is to say “no” to 99% of feature ideas so she can get things done and ship quickly. I doubt that the people who are best at this know more than everyone else (about which features to say “no” to), but I’m sure they act more on what they’re thinking and are great at sticking to their guns, even when there’s tons of pressure to cave.
You gut and your head know what you need to do; the discipline is in learning to act on that feeling time and again to test what you secretly suspect…which is that that small voice inside your head (or gut) is right.