Developing a relationship with and learning to trust your gut instinct is a proven differentiator and one of the most satisfying feelings in the world. It just feels good to know that what you feel is valid and that you have a reliable resource to help you make better choices in business and in life.
And while developing your intuitive intelligence is a hot topic, can trusting only your gut go too far?
Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat, built his multi-billion-dollar empire from his ability to intuitively design and anticipate how youth communicate. Part of his winning formula is based on trusting his instincts and ignoring naysayers. But his recent gut decisions have left Snapchat’s market capitalization plummeting from $25.5 billion to about $6.5 billion.
After returning from a recent trip to China, Spiegel was inspired by innovative trends that he witnessed. He pressed his team to launch a redesign despite reservations by its engineers. He demanded unreasonable deadlines and ignored warning signs that the new look and feel wasn’t testing well. When it was released last February, Snapchat lost users for the first time in its history.
What Got Us Here Might Not Be What Gets Us There
Spiegel is known to lead more by instinct and feel than data, and while this approach has brought undeniable success and new trends in advertising and communication, he stopped including board members and other key stakeholders in decision-making, and began to isolate himself from the collective intelligence around him.
It’s hard to blame Spiegel in the sense that when you have so much success, confidence soars and you feel as though you have the Midas touch. It’s easy for arrogance to set in and begin tuning out those around you. Yet, there’s a cost when we become too insular in key decision-making, no matter how brilliant our track record.
Intuition doesn’t work in isolation. In fact, it’s only in staying open to all of the data around us, not just internally, that we make our best decisions. Just as we can go too far in trusting only the metrics and spreadsheets or the louder opinions of others, we can also err on the side of only going with our gut and putting blinders on to the necessary checks and balances of trusted advisors and colleagues around us.
As Within, So Without
We are entering an era where AI is forcing us to face what makes us most human. Exploring the potential of the subconscious mind and how it unlocks intuition and creativity is becoming one of the greatest frontiers of discovery that hold the keys to how we lead and innovate our future. It is only in understanding how to integrate our intuition with our decision-making–and balancing out our inner knowing with outer data and opinions–that we can ensure that we are making the best decisions possible. While ignoring our intuition often tends to be the cause of our biggest mistakes and regrets, we can also go too far in the other direction when we shut out the collective intelligence around us and operate in isolation.