“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.” — Seth Godin

The Instinct Factor

What is Instinct? It’s a primal feeling that precedes logical thinking. Actually, it interrupts before logic even starts. It’s an inside alarm that nudges you without your request and a radar that picks up information in your environment at a much farther range than the eye can see. It’s is also one of our most used gifts in business and yet it’s also the least defended. We are all aware that in business, if the tool that we use can’t measure results, it becomes the dirty little secret that everyone stays mum about.

The battle with instinct. We often battle our inner instinct against the views and opinions of experts. We delay decision-making, needing second opinions and recommendations from peers and family, all in the name of not listening to our instincts. More importantly the obstacle comes from not being able to measure and prove to everyone important, why we came to a conclusion and why we should listen to it.


Instinct creates a physical response that you can’t deny. It could be your heart clenching, a heavy weight in your gut, an instant excitement or a fear. The ancient Chinese believed that wisdom resides in the stomach. Maybe where “trust your gut” came from? Something will feel strange or unusual. You may feel it somewhere else in your body like the hair standing up on the back of your neck. It’s a “hmmm… something feels off” kind of feeling.

Instinct is recurrent. Instinct is a feeling about someone, a situation or an opportunity that keeps reoccurring. It’s like a fire alarm. It doesn’t go away until you take care of it and address the fire. No amount of distraction will stop that internal signal.

Instinct if ignored, costs something. Why do we have to wait to be shocked before we listen to our instinct? In my career, I have seen too many examples around me of people who didn’t listen to their instinct in business and who paid a dear price. Do not be naïve in thinking that there is no cost in ignoring your instinct. Sometimes the cost is public and other times it’s private but there is always a cost. Pay attention or pay the price.

Don’t question why you are feeling it. Instead, decide what you are going to do about it or if you can find other ways to validate your instinct. There are always hints all around that will help.

Urges vs instincts. Urges make withdrawals. Instincts make deposits. Urges make you spend your time and energy. Instincts save you time and energy because they bring you to a conclusion at lightning speed. Urges deplete you. Instinct fills you up. They fill you up with information, insight and a sense of urgency.


Substract. Get un-busy and clear-up your mind to leave room to interpret what your instinct is telling you. This de-cluttering of the mind gives you a sense of calm that helps you to better “listen” to your instinct. Subtracting works wonders in many situations, just like when you clean a room or office, things become clearer and so do your priorities.

Be receptive by becoming hyper-aware of your 5 senses. This increases the amount of insights that you get from your 5 senses in any given situation. For example, let’s say you are an observer in a meeting. What intuitive information are you picking up on? Are you getting the opposite feeling of what the person is saying? Is there something that feels “off”? Maybe, if it’s possible, you can discreetly close your eyes for a few seconds. This will heightens your other senses and you’ll pick-up some additional information. Here are a few more questions you can ask yourself:

  • What impressions am I getting about ____?
  • What is really going on with _____?
  • Is there something that I am missing or not seeing with _____?

The quality of the answers you are looking for are directly related to the quality of the questions you ask yourself.

If you get into the habit of asking good questions, you will become much more capable of accessing your intuition and reading more accurately your environment.

Break the pattern. You can do this by allowing yourself to daydream. At times, it is when you are concentrating on something completely different that you get the best insights or that a previous impression makes the most sense. You can also do this by doing any physical activity (yoga, walking, kick-boxing etc…). There is nothing like good oxygen to help reset the body and clear the mind to help look at a situation with a new pair of glasses.

I listened to my instinct, now what?

Store the information, until needed. The impressions you are getting might not always make sense. Keep them stored in the back of your mind. There will come a time where you will need to retrieve them and they will help you tremendously, by confirming what you thought or by offering you a warning. The good news is that with intuition, nothing is ever wasted.

Insights may come in an unconventional format. Be open to different formats. It’s not always what you expect. It can be through a conversation with a friend, an article you read, an interview you heard on the radio or you saw on TV, meditating, praying, a poster/ad that you saw or even a sudden feeling.

Improving your instinct skills will help increase your business acumen and will benefit you in all aspects of your life.

We live in modern times with phenomenal technologies at the tips of our fingers. Ironically, the gift of instinct, is one of the most state-of-the-art tools that we’ve had all along.

In the comments below, I’d love to know how instinct played an important part in a key business decision you had to make.

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