When should you ignore your gut

Intuition – a sense of knowing something without knowing how you know it – is a feeling that is honed through years of practice. Instant feedback on whether one’s decision was right or wrong, is one of its key prerequisites.

Several experiences can strengthen our intuition. As soon as a chess player makes a bad move, a good opponent punishes them. A surgeon can tell if a surgery is going well by the amount of blood in the incision. A comedian receives instant feedback on whether a joke is funny through the looks on her audience’s faces.

Several other situations don’t offer instant feedback and don’t foster intuition. A doctor usually receives no instant feedback on the effectiveness of a diagnosis. An interviewer often has no way of knowing how competent a candidate she rejected truly was. Consultants often receive no feedback from clients on the effectiveness of their recommendations.

When evaluating a situation that doesn’t offer you instant feedback, do not rely on your gut feelings. Instead, design and use an algorithm.

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