Nothing ventured, nothing gained


I meet a lot of entrepreneurs in my line of work, and I have an undeniable soft spot for them. I love the combination of creativity, passion, drive and courage that goes into building something from scratch, and using everything you can muster to try to get it to stand on its own two feet. I love their willingness to feel failure hanging over their shoulders, and to turn away from it and do the work anyway, even though they know that they might have to eventually admit defeat. And if they do, I love that most of them will dust themselves off and try again – either on the same note or a different one. There’s that idea you hear them talk about that you eventually take the leap because you get to a point where you just “can’t not” do it. I definitely get that (you’re looking at evidence of it), and I love it – not just because that kind of confidence pulls you in, but because it relies so heavily on something else…that’s right: intuition.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to meet a really charismatic entrepreneur. His particular gig requires that he make decisions every day about how, where and with whom to invest large sums of money, a super fun game also known as venture capital. When I asked him to what extent intuition plays a role in his decisions, he said “It’s everything. I start with my intuition, and if it feels right there, then we have a longer conversation.” Of course, his response resonated deeply with me, but I’m not a venture capitalist (to date), so in some ways the emphatic-ness of it was surprising to me. He checks his gut first, and then, he does the math. And by math, I mean equations in the multi-millions here. This isn’t lunch money for school; these are big dollars that can make or break a funding recipient’s future. He checks his gut first. It makes you think, no?

How many of the decisions you make involve your intuition? Do you actively welcome it in, or just let it kind of be there and participate? And what about those moments when it has something different to say than your head does? When your gut says “yes, go” and your head says, “wait, I’m not sure,” who wins?

We all have different comfort zones for listening to our head and our heart. When we’re lucky, they align. It all feels right AND it “makes sense.” That’s a great place to be. It’s also a fairly rare one, though. More often, we stew in the struggle between the two, thinking we are unsure about what we want. That may well be the case, but I tend to think that it’s not so much that you’re unsure, it’s that you either 1) can’t hear your intuition, 2) aren’t listening to what your intuition is trying to tell you, or 3) hear your intuition loud and clear, but you’re not ready to defy your head by going with it. So, the internal battle continues about what the “right” choice is, even though you probably already know.

Of course, it’s easy to say and hard to do. Sometimes, you know your gut is trying to tell you something but you can’t really sort out what it is. Solution: catch your breath. Take a beat. Inhale, exhale. Let the rest of the world outside of you step back for just a minute or two (or five). When you connect with your breath, your body, and the steady center that (I promise!) you do have inside of you, you will have wandered directly into intuition territory. While the universe may not deliver you the gift-wrapped box of clarity you are hoping for, it will eventually help you to better understand the messages your gut has for you. And you never know, it might put a bow on it after all, too.

We are so, so very good at listening to our heads, making pros/cons lists and analyzing our decisions down to the smallest possible margin of error. And I’m not knocking that – it’s an excellent skill set to have. But when you’ve done all the math first, and a little something inside of you is tugging at you, telling you there might be something else, it might be time to turn left even though right makes more “sense,” you might be ready to take a leap to a place where there is no map for you to follow. When you just “can’t not” do it anymore, maybe take that first step of listening to the quiet, confident voice of your intuition. See what possibilities may lie on the other side of saying “yes” to your gut first, and then doing the math that helps make it “make sense.”

Want more insights on decisions? Check this out, or maybe this would be more your style.

Photo credit: Victoriano Izquierdo

3 thoughts on “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”

  1. Pingback: No-Fail Friday: On the fence | MindfulMBA

  2. Pingback: Heart’s desires | MindfulMBA

  3. Pingback: Up in the air | MindfulMBA

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