I had an interesting discussion with a close friend this weekend. My friend had just completed two rounds of leadership coaching with an experienced coach. Always curious about what clients derive from coaching, I asked my friend what his biggest take-away was from his ten coaching sessions.

His answer intrigued me and prompted me to think about my own leadership journey, which has now evolved into a coaching chapter. It also caused me to smile because I have experienced the same paradigm with several of my own coaching clients.

“I asked my coach,” he said, “how I can track my own biases. I am concerned that sometimes my biases based on my past experiences may lead me in a direction that produces a poor or suboptimal decision.”

“My coach offered a different paradigm,” he continued.

“My coach said – what you are calling biases can also be called wisdom. Wisdom is accumulated based upon all your past experiences, both before you became a leader and after you assumed a leadership position.

Your wisdom comes from all avenues of your life – your family, your friendships, your school years and all your jobs. Wisdom is often called your gut instinct. When you go with your gut instinct, you usually make good decisions.”

I reflected upon my friend’s lesson and thought about all the times during my career when I had weighed alternate factors and had decided to trust my gut instinct. Trust is the key word there. Sometimes it can be challenging to trust that gut instinct because we allow our inner critic to jump in and confuse us.

However, if you think back about major leadership decisions you have made, including those where you sought input from others, I bet that you went with your gut instinct a great majority of the time. That means you trusted your own accumulated wisdom.

When we trust our gut instinct, we:
-Can make faster decisions
-Avoid the delay and danger of overthinking
-Practice the habit of relying upon our own knowledge and experience
-Can pair our self-trust with some analytical thinking that helps us make more accurate decisions
-Challenge negative assumptions
-Can better can identify what we may be afraid of
-Practice listening to our inner voice

Please remember that you have gathered wisdom from everything that has happened in your life up to this point in time. That wisdom is a tool you can utilize in making challenging decisions.

Our gut decisions will not always be accurate, so it is important to pause and reflect upon your gut responses in order to make your most informed decision. Strive to balance out your gut feelings with real evidence.

When you combine trusting your gut instincts – your wisdom – with collecting real evidence and reflecting upon your own self-awareness, you will be on the road to making good leadership decisions.

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