Never go with your, gut feelings, because what is true is that your, gut reactions, our are often going to be lying to you. Just like people who are depressed and anxious feel that there’s something to be said about, gut reactions, when there’s not, and feel there’s a threat when there is not. Instead use counter intuitive strategies to make decisions.
In this episode of the Transform your Mind to Transform your Life podcast, I interview Dr Gleb Tsipursky, Cognitive Neuroscientist and Behavioral Economist and author of the book “Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters.”
What was your path in becoming a Cognitive Neuroscientist?
I was 18 in 1999 when the Prince song party like it’s 1999 was Hot. A lot of leaders were partying because their companies were going boom they were making a lot of a lot of money. Billions of dollars were invested into the dot.com industry, and just a couple of years later when I was 21 in 2002, they all went bust. The leaders of the dot.com era made terrible decisions. They trusted their, Gut feelings, and went bust! That and the fact I saw my father trust his, gut feelings, and made terrible decisions, made me study to become a Cognitive Neuroscientist.
A lot of these Leaders went to jail. Their, gut instincts, were way off. Never trust just your, gut feelings. I was curious about what was going on, so I decided to study the neuroscience of the brain and how people think. I became a Trainer, Consultant, and Coach for business leaders. Cognitive neuroscience, is the study of how our brain works, how we make decisions and what our patterns of decision-making are. I also studied the specific judgment errors that we make when we make decisions purely from, gut feelings.
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One of the first things I wanted to know because as a, Lifecoach myself, when I sit down in a coaching session, I’m looking for certain things in order for me to understand where my clients are coming from. As a cognitive neuroscientist and behavioral economist, what are you looking for when you were consulting with these business leaders?
The first thing I’m looking for is to make sure the person is coachable. A lot of people would like to go to a coach, but they’re not coachable. Meaning that they’re not willing to listen to external feedback and accept that sometimes, someone looking from the outside is going to be wiser than the person looking from the inside and making those, gut feeling, decisions. I also try to find an issue of disagreement and in the first session, to see how the person reacts to this disagreement. Because if this person’s is not able to deal with this disagreement, then we’re not going to be able to have an effective coaching relationship. Because as a coach I’m going to tell you what I think, and if you can’t accept feedback, we can’t work together and I’d like to discover that as quickly as possible.
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The other thing that I look for at the start of the session is how emotionally aware this person is. That’s the quality of emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence refers to two broad skill sets:
- emotional awareness – where is this person emotions
- and emotional management – how are they able to manage their emotions.
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It is really an important element for me to understand. Do I need to teach this person these skills of emotional intelligence, personal skills, emotional awareness and emotional management? Because in order to make good decisions, instead of going with, gut feelings, we need to realize that our emotions are the overwhelming factor driving our, gut intuition and, gut reactions. Our emotions shape about 80 to 90 percent of our, gut feelings, and decision-making. Going with your, gut feelings, means going with your, gut intuition, and they’re often wrong, so this is a problem.
When my clients notice that there are goals they want to achieve from coaching are at odds with their natural inclinations and natural intuition, they change their natural state. One of the very important aspects of coaching, is to change your natural state of activities otherwise there is no point in coaching.
One key aspect of coaching, is to change from where you are today to where you want to be
I’m looking for that as well how aware is the person of their emotions and how able are they to manage their emotions and, gut feelings.
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As a Cognitive Neuroscientist and Behavioral Economist, you had enough data to write a book on disaster avoidance and that’s also name of your company. Does your research indicate that most people who follow their, gut feelings, or, gut instinct, make the wrong decisions?
Yes, overwhelmingly people who just go with their, gut feelings, and make decisions by, gut reaction, as opposed to people who check with their heads before going with their, gut feelings, make the wrong decisions.
Let’s look at small businesses. A lot of small business owners who don’t have training go with their, gut feeling, and open up a business. They feel that they can do this job, I can do this work. I can run this restaurant or this hair salon or I can be a plumber. But when you look at the actual statistics, what happens to small businesses is about half of them fail within the first five years, about two-thirds of them fail within the first ten years, because people make decisions based on, gut feelings. They just go with their, gut instincts, they don’t check with their head before going with their, gut feeling. Never just go with your, gut feelings.
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5 Questions to Ask Before Going with Your Gut Feeling
That business leader this who wants to open up a hair salon needs to learn about these cognitive biases, the 30 most dangerous ones that she might be suffering from
I list them all in my book “Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters.”
I will list 5 of them here.
- The Confirmation Bias – where she might be looking for information that confirms her beliefs and ignoring information that do not confirm her beliefs.
- Objective Adviser – Understanding the failure rate for hair salons. The failure rate for hair salons are a little bit higher than the failure rate for typical small businesses, so the first question to answer is why she would not fail. What makes her so special?
- Get uncomfortable – Look for information that is uncomfortable and that to prove to herself whether this is the right decision or not.
- Check for the optimism bias. Business leaders who open up new restaurants, new salon or new small businesses tech startups tend to be very optimistic. They are too optimistic compared to the reality of the situation.
- Exit strategy if Business fails – what are all the reasons why it would fail. Was it the wrong location? Management etc?
Additional Resources Never go with Your, Gut Feelings