Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, they said. Everything is going to be fine, they said. Things are going to work out, they said.
But then maybe I got too relaxed. Maybe I didn’t push hard enough to begin with. Maybe I stopped too soon. Whatever the reason, things didn’t work out. And you know what, it wasn’t fine. In fact, it sucked!
So should I blame them? Or should I blame myself?
Who knows? If I hadn’t quit, maybe things still wouldn’t have worked out. Maybe it wasn’t meant to work out. Maybe the plan was never meant to be successful but rather to teach me about failing, to teach me about humility, to teach me the dangers of overconfidence, to teach me how to regroup and take the lessons I learned and start again, and do it better next time.
Or maybe if I had trusted my intuition, and just gone all out like I wanted to, like I thought I should, things would’ve been different.
You see, the way intuition works is this: when you’re in a situation, you pick up cues that tell you how to act, how to react, how to plan your next move. Sometimes, these are subtle hints, so subtle that you can’t explain them to anyone else. Truth is, sometimes you can’t even explain it to yourself because if you had to say your reasons out loud or even write them down in your journal, they’d seem petty and inconsequential, not reason enough to make a decision. But there’s a reason your heart rate is quickening and your skin is getting warm. There’s a reason your hairs are starting to stand on end. Even if you don’t know why. You might not know what is around the corner but there’s a reason your instincts are telling you Full Steam Ahead or Proceed With Caution or Stop!
Long before you realize you’re not safe, there were one or two signs that you should have paid attention to. Long before you realize you’re lost, there were some signs that you didn’t recognize and you should have turned around. There were signs that you ignored. But which ones?
Malcolm Gladwell talks about intuition in his book Blink (yeah, I talk about this book a lot but he’s one of my favorite writers and it is one of my favorite books)
One experiment Gladwell discusses in the book was a study done by University of Iowa where they hooked up some gamblers to machines to monitor their physiological responses while they bet on cards. Over the course of the experiment, they turned over four decks of cards – two red, two blue. Each card either causes the gambler to wins or lose money so the objective is to turn over as many of the winning cards and avoid the losing ones. In the study, the decks were stacked so red cards lose big but also win big – blue cards are conservative but always win. The question was how long before a professional gambler would figure this out and what was happening to him while he was coming to this conclusion.
The study found that after just 10 cards or so, the subject would start sweating, his brain activity would increase, his intuition kicking in, telling him Red Alert, Red Alert but because he didn’t have any proof, he would keep on turning over red cards anyway. In fact, on average, the subjects would turn over 50 cards even though their instincts had been telling them to stay away from red a whole 40 cards prior.
The social scientists say this is how our brain works if we let it. When the stakes are high and things are moving fast (at the speed of life, the next thing is already happening), the brain makes conclusions long before it can explain them rationally.
Maybe sometimes we should trust ourselves more. Trust that your brain knows how to protect you. Trust your instincts even if you can’t explain them yet. Sometimes, you’ll be wrong. But more often, you’ll be right! Either way, there will be no one to blame but yourself.
Shared on Tip Tuesday