Listen to Your Gut Especially When You Don't Like What It's Telling You You know what you have to do. That little voice in your head keeps repeating it.

By Tasha Eurich

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Recently, a smart, savvy executive approached me for some advice. She'd started a new job and was struggling with one of her inherited employees. The employee had worked for the company for ages, and the only thing worse than his performance was his attitude.

I first asked what she'd already tried to solve the problem. Her response was an impressive laundry list: she'd clarified expectations, given feedback, created consequences and coached -- all to no avail. She felt like she was out of options.

I began, "Do you want my response in polite or direct form?" She smiled and confidently requested a direct approach. Incredulously, I pleaded, "Why on earth haven't you fired him?!"

She told me she was worried about being seen as The Hatchet Lady. "But," she continued solemnly, "things will be even worse if I keep him, won't they?"

I smiled. "You knew what you needed to do before you approached me, didn't you?" She nodded. "Well, heck, you don't need my advice! Stop thinking about it and do it!" She agreed and promised to keep me apprised.

This story reminded me of a conversation I recently had with my friend, Chuck Blakeman. He was patiently listening me to whine about a seemingly unsolvable problem. With a glint in his eye, he playfully asked, "Tasha, what are you pretending not to know?" The question stopped me dead in my tracks and has since become a touchstone to skyrocket my self-awareness.

Related: The Scientific Reason You Should Trust Your Gut

The human brain is an incredible creation. It's wired to sift through information and make sound decisions based on instinct alone. In fact, when one study asked participants to use their gut to select the better of two options, they chose correctly 90 percent of the time!

Despite our brain's magnificent wiring, we often lose sight of what's right in front of us. One study showed that people are worse at detecting lies when they deliberate about them versus relying on their gut reactions. Other work has shown that when we over think decisions, their quality declines.

Most people will tell you that their gut rarely steers them wrong. But we often ignore our instincts when the answer is inconvenient. My friend Roger, who works in the grocery industry, recently told me that when a new hire isn't going to work out, he knows in just a few days. "The problem," he noted, "is that I don't always like the answer!"

By no means am I perfect at this either. I've often found myself burying the truth when I should know better. Every June for the last six years, I've ridden Colorado's MS150 in honor of my wonderful stepdad Richard. It's a 150-mile bike ride to raise funds for research and treatment of multiple sclerosis. Leading up to last year's ride, I barely trained at all. I didn't have time! I rationalized, I'm too busy with work. Lo and behold, on second day of the ride, I choked a few miles from the finish line so badly that I had to flag down the dreaded SAG wagon.

Related: Go With Your Gut: How to Use Your Intuition to Succeed in Business

Here's the thing: I was delusional enough to be surprised when, deep down, I knew this was exactly what was going to happen. I was just pretending not to know it. The good news is that I learned my lesson and actually trained for this year's ride, which went off without a hitch.

I try to get a bit smarter every year whenever possible.

The moral of this story: We live simpler, more successful lives when we stop ignoring what, deep down, we know to be true about ourselves and the world around us. Am I telling you not to more deeply reflect on your problems? No! What I am saying is that when you ignore the little voice in your head because you don't like what it's telling you, you're in dangerous territory.

Related: Quit Relying on Your Intuition When Hiring Your Sales Team

Tasha Eurich

Organizational psychologist and best-selling author

Tasha Eurich is a New York Times best-selling author. She holds a doctorate in organization psychology and writes about psychology and the workplace. Eurich’s research has been published in peer-reviewed journals, and she regularly speaks to audiences around the world, including her recent TEDx talk. As the founder of The Eurich Group, she helps companies from start-ups to the Fortune 100 succeed by improving their leaders’ and teams’ effectiveness.


Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Business Models

A Company With a Conscience — How to Make High-Priced Products Accessible to Working-Class Families

Some products are inherently expensive. Companies can offer leasing programs, financing options and other marketing approaches to make them accessible to working families.

Growing a Business

How to Get Your Business Noticed (and How to Brag About It)

Knowing how to go after important recognition awards and then leverage them can have a long-term impact on your business.


7 Reasons Why CEOs Need to Develop a Personal Brand — and How to Build One.

Here's why crafting a captivating personal brand and origin story is pivotal in today's landscape and how these seven tangible advantages can redefine your success as a business leader.


What's the Best Social Media Influencer Option for Your Business?

The success of an entire marketing campaign involving influencers hinges on the meticulous selection of the right social media blogger. Do you know how to choose the right one?

Science & Technology

ChatGPT Is Powerful — and Can Wreak Havoc If You Don't Know Its 5 Fatal Flaws

There's no denying that ChatGPT is powerful. It should, however, be used with an awareness of its limitations to maximize its potential.