What do you do when your ‘gut’ tells you that something isn’t quite right?
I’m reminded of 19-year-old Bill who heeded his intuition and consequently made a great career decision.
Intuition or ‘gut feeling’ has evolved to help us make decisions. It’s different from thinking. It’s knowing without knowing. It’s that inner voice. It’s always there whether we are aware of it or not - always trying to steer us in the right direction. Here is a true story about Bill (name changed to protect his identity) and how listening to his intuition helped steer him in the right direction.
Bill was 19 when he contacted me for career coaching. He had to make a big decision that he felt would greatly alter the course of his life. He was a musician and passionately wanted to build the best life possible around a career in music.
A year previously, Bill was offered what he described as his dream course. The college was renowned for producing excellent musicians and was based in Boston. For some reason unknown to Bill, his sense of elation and excitement was quickly followed by a gut feeling that something wasn’t quite right, even though his family and friends all commented on how lucky he was. He deferred his place for a year.
At our first meeting, it became clear that Bill had less than two weeks to decide if he should take up the offer and pay the substantial deposit. He mentioned that he had half-heartily applied to other colleges in Ireland and the UK but so far was unsuccessful.
Focusing initially on gaining an understanding of the reality of the situation, it emerged that Bill had made some assumptions about potential long-term work opportunities in the US once he completed his course. It was time for Bill to do some real research, contacting the college and US embassy with very specific questions.
Bill gained a much greater understanding of what he was about to embark on, which rocked the foundation that he, his family, and friends had based their opinions on. As a result, he turned down the offer of his place in the Boston college.
Acknowledging his disappointment and grieving somewhat for the lost dream of living and studying in Boston, Bill was then in a better frame of mind to consider other options, explore what mattered most to him and what he wanted his future to look like. Once Bill had made his decision to reject the Boston offer, he could give his full attention to achieving his new goal, which took account of other important areas of his life, not just his career. Not surprisingly, within months Bill got an offer of a place on his first choice of colleges on this side of the Atlantic and accepted the offer immediately.
Bill didn’t come to me for advice. He needed someone to listen to his concerns and explore them with him. And while he didn’t fully understand what his ‘gut feeling’ meant, he was aware enough not to over-ride it. What a great gift it is to have within us this deep sense of knowing.