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Intuition Versus Analysis

In his best-selling book “Blink,” Malcolm Gladwell makes a very strong case about the value of intuitive reaction. But what most people forget is that this kind of reflexive analysis has its own shortcomings. One of them is that our minds are hard wired to categorize everything. Meaning we organize new information into little mental boxes. The new people and events that we come across are instantaneously categorized into profiles that we’ve set up to make sense out of all the data that comes at us every day. This can lead to cruel and serious mistakes. Over categorization is the ground from which the “isms”, such as racism and sexism spring.

Use your intuition but don’t blindly trust it. Stop yourself and think more like a pollster. Give weight to data only if the quantity and quality of that data reaches a certain threshold. Otherwise, actively suspend judgment and be open minded. That means actively listening to the people you encounter and quieting the chatter in your mind. This takes active engagement with others–being outwardly focused. The rewards are enormous because you can expand the quality of the people you meet and the information you learn.

Some of the information you may start gathering may not be what you want to hear. On a personal front, you might learn that you’re not quite the husband or wife you thought you were. Or, that you have a way of being that turns people off at work. But, if you surround yourself with people who are also wedded to reality, who also want honest feedback on their behavior, you will all improve your way of being and ultimately, your performance.

Remember the joke: If one person calls you an ass , brush it off. If a second person calls you an ass, take a hard look at your behavior. If a third person calls you an ass, guess what? You are an ass.

Coming Up: Part 4 of Don’t Kid Yourself, Destiny Control

Cheers from Sonoma,

Donald