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Trust Your Instinct

Trust Your instinct

It’s sometimes better to trust your instinct even when logic tells you otherwise.

The scenario – you’re looking to get a website developed. You’ve approached three website developers and got three quotes on the table. They’re all offering what you think you need but they all have different costs. So do you go for the cheapest? If you do, are you going to receive a worse service from the developer than if you went for the most expensive? It’s a dilema.

When you’re faced with a decision like this and can’t decide what to do – which web design proposal to accept for example or whether to invest in a particular marketing campaign – it’s sometimes better to trust your instinct even when logic tells you otherwise.

This was brought home to me, quite poignantly, many years ago on return from a business trip.

I was working as a Software Development Manager for the Digital Equipment Corporation.  and had been to visit a customer in Wolfsburg, about 50 miles East of Hanover in, the then, West Germany (no prizes for guess the customer’s name).

There were three of us; Jon our Documentation Manager, Steve our Marketing Manager who was based in New England, and me. Steve had spent the week visiting us at our base in Reading, England and was due to fly on to Frankfurt that evening, spend the night there, and then fly home to Boston via New York City the following day.

We arrived at the airport in Hanover for our return flight earlier than expected and checked in. The check in agent looked at Steve’s ticket for the through journey to Boston and told him that there was a flight just about to leave Hanover for Frankfurt which would arrive there just in time to catch a flight to New York that evening. This would effectively save him a day. Although the timing was tight, the agent suggested that it would be doable.

Despite the fact that logic told him to go for it, Steve still wasn’t sure what to do. So much so that he turn to Jon and me and asked what we would do. Again logic said that we should have told him to go for it. But we didn’t and so Steve declined the offer of the earlier flight and eventually flew back the following morning as originally planned.

Two day’s later, I had a call from Steve after his journey home. “That was close” he said. At first I didn’t catch on. Then the penny dropped. The date that we had travelled from Hanover was 21st December 1988. Had Steve decided to take that earlier flight and fly back to Boston via New York, he would have taken flight Pan Am 103a which, after picking up passengers in London, became flight Pan Am 103, the flight that ended its journey so abruptly and tragically over Lockerbie, Scotland.

I don’t know what it was that made us all decide that Steve shouldn’t take the flight that evening, even though logic told us that he should and that he had nothing to lose. But of course, as it turned out, he would have had a lot to lose.

That incident taught me a lot about instinct because that’s what must have kicked in for us all at Hanover. I don’t claim to be physic or have a crystal ball; I’m actually quite a logical person. But that evening something – instinct, 6th sense – seemed to have overridden the logic. Bizarrely, there are a number of people, some quite high profile, who failed to make that flight like Steve.

So next time you’re faced with a decision, even a business decision, perhaps you should let go and let your instincts take over.

I’d be fascinated to hear about any similar experiences you’ve had. Use the form at the end of this post to leave feedback.

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