We’ve all had them, those feelings that tell you to do something or not to do something, to trust them or to not trust them. Are they just your overactive mind or something more?
I’ve always thought intuition and gut feelings were way more than just random thoughts racing through my mind and heart. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean I always listen to them.
Sometimes I ignore that whisper in my gut that says, “You should do this” or “Don’t do that….or this isn’t right for you” and instead I turn it on MUTE and proceed “my” way. Sometimes I barely notice if that gut feeling was good idea or not, but other times it hits me right between the eyes that I should have listened.
Last week was one of those times I got hit right between the eyes. It started out to be a great week because I landed a meeting with the founder of an amazing start-up in the high-end exotic travel industry. The founder had already been featured all over national TV, print and online--he was already “entrepreneur famous”. We were meeting to explore how I could help them with their marketing and business development globally. The opportunity seemed so awesome--nearly perfect. You see, I’m madly in love with travel and all I could think of was safaris in Africa, touring vineyards in France and maybe even sipping coffee on the edges of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. It was a dream come true kind of opportunity.
As the meeting approached little hints through emails were revealed to me about what they wanted from me and the commitment they needed from me. The details of these hints normally would be red flags but I was “Dream Drunk”. I could only see how this could be an amazing platform for me to be a part of, how the founder could be amazing to work with and how this could take me down an exciting road….I didn’t see anything else—only rainbows and unicorns.
The day before the meeting I got this fleeting thought that popped in my head, “I don’t think you should go to the meeting.” I even started feeling really uncomfortable about going. I never feel this way before a meeting. I attributed all of it to being a little nervous about this big opportunity.
On the morning of the meeting, I again got this feeling that I should cancel the meeting. What is wrong with me, I thought. Am I intimidated by this opportunity, scared or was it something else? The whole time I got dressed I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It made me start thinking about the opportunity in more detail and I recognized that the little info I had gotten on the project so far didn’t seem to add up. However, I still pushed myself to go and told myself not to be afraid of success…and I might have also told myself not to be a big chicken---you know standard motivational talk.
The meeting was in an urban remodeled warehouse--in a hip part of town. I came to the locked front door and they buzzed me in. The place was full of activity and cubicles, high ceilings, music playing, hip-looking people scurrying about like ants, others huddled up in corners talking about interesting stuff I’m sure and there were dogs everywhere—and I mean everywhere. It was part mad house, part cool start-up workplace. The CEO met me at the door and quickly ushered me to some open chairs right inside the door and said he’d be right back. It gave me time to take in the flavor of the atmosphere. The acoustics were loud, people were hurried, balls were being thrown over cubicles and no one seemed to notice I was there as they sat next to me, reached around me and even bumped into me. Evidently, I was invisible as I just sat back and took it all in. The longer I sat there it began to feel more like a college campus than an office. Within 10 minutes of sitting there it began to felt awkward….not bad….just awkward. I soon realized it was a place that I might have found myself 25 years ago…just surprised this was where I was now. It had an immaturity about it….which is different than exciting and youthful. I pushed that confused thought aside as I shifted my focus to their hip décor and told myself I was getting out of my comfort zone so feeling awkward is NORMAL.
After a little more than 15 minutes the giggling founder finally came back to retrieve me and we hurried downstairs to a conference room, only to find it was occupied. Then I found myself trying to keep up as the founder ran up the stairs skipping two at a time, like a ten year old, as he hurried back upstairs to another room. It was like a race—which I lost.
We finally made it to an empty glass conference room and I was out of breath, confused and wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into.
After about 60 seconds of very uncomfortable small talk he asked me, “Tell me about yourself”. Just like that I felt in my element again, I’ve shared my career hi-light reel hundreds of times—marketing, PR, huge digital media campaigns, hired by NY Times Best-Selling authors, Nobel Peace Prize winners, fortune 500 companies, bla, bla, bla……and after I was done I expected the usual…that’s very interesting or very impressive or it’s that unique background that interested us in talking to you. Instead awkward silence--he said nothing for a good 20 seconds. But his body language said volumes, he looked around the room bored, waved at someone walking past the glass conference room and then I realized …..he wasn’t even listening to me. When he finally looked at me and saw I had stopped talking he jumped into talking about himself. His trip to Spain, his MBA, how he came up with this idea and how he was going to scale the idea in the next 12 months.
While he was talking I found myself zoning out because I couldn’t get past his exaggerated English accent. It sounded a little off but kind of real--I wasn't sure. This was completely unexpected because all of the videos, I had watched of him before I met with him, he didn’t have an accent in any of them, not to mention his bio on several sites says he was born and raised in the US. Then without taking a breath he jumped into telling me about the project. And in less than 30 seconds he told me about the surprisingly insignificant role he wanted me to play and then asked me if that scared me. If you took a picture of my face at that moment you would have seen the most confused DAZE come over my entire demeanor. Essentially the long and short was he just wanted me to be another one of his minions rather than what was presented to me by one of his vice presidents. I felt like I just landed in Oz. None of this made sense. It was completely different than what I expected or what I was told and what I’ve experienced with other founders. After he finished I asked him questions about the project to clarify my role and what his budget was for this project and he smugly said, “I don’t know, I don’t memorize that stuff”—as if I’d just asked the King to help a lowly peasant.
At this point we were only 10 minutes into the meeting but luckily for me something clicked in me…..DING, DING, DING…..I realized my gut feelings earlier were trying to save me from all of this. After ten minutes I realized this was not only a BAD fit for me but potentially toxic for me to dive deeper into working with this person. I finally felt the bad vibes of him and the whole place. At last, I listened to the warning signs I’d been getting for days.
The tables had turned now, “I” wasn’t listening to him and I only thought of a way to cut it short and get the hell out of there. After 15 minutes of the Twilight Zone I was back in my car in disbelief and drained but felt I dodged a bullet. I had never had a meeting quite like that—ever!
Our gut feelings, intuition or 6th sense sometimes knows more than us.
In my experience it seems to know what’s best for me and what (or who) I need to avoid even when all of the signs in “my” world point to the opposite.
Many times we second guess gut feelings because we “think” we know better or we let our emotions, desires and even our dreams cloud the truth. Or we have no proof of what our gut feelings or intuition is telling us. Sometimes the gut feeling doesn’t make any sense and is even contrary to what you see around you or is contrary to what you even want—as in my case last week. We ignore the signs telling us that things aren’t as they appear. I was so caught up in what “I” thought this opportunity was going to be, I ignored the very clear signs telling me what the truth was many days BEFORE I met with the founder. I even held out hope during that crazy meeting that if the “money” was good enough I would do it…not realizing it still would have turned out to be a disaster. I was in full “dream drunk” still.
The founder didn’t value me, my experience or what I said and working with him on any project wasn’t going to be a fit for me. This person wasn’t honoring my talents and what’s important to me. I realized this opportunity would bring more stress than success to my life. Driving home I thought about how important my family is to me and it was clear he wouldn’t support this priority. It all was very clear now and I understood the stress and drama I would face if I took this project and the backlash I would encounter if I ever had to reschedule something because my son was sick or I had to take care of family related issues. In that moment travel seemed completely insignificant—when I can’t be what I want to be for my family it was a no-brainer to walk away…actually run away.
Money, status or great opportunities aren’t worth selling out on your values, dignity and priorities.
Knowing your Truu North and living it makes it easier to know when to walk away. Granted it took me a little more pushing to get this through my hard head this time—but it’s truu. No matter how extraordinary something seems it’s important that it’s right for you, empowers you and supports your overall Truu North (not just parts of it). This opportunity hit a couple things on my wish list like travel and global business but failed miserable on everything else. I was so attached to those two items that I failed to see how toxic this project would be for the other areas of my life. Creating your Truu Life---one that’s meaningful, happy, built on being truu to you and successful-- can’t also mean we have to give up what’s truly important to us. I already did that in my life and it only brought me unhappiness, depression and regret.
Our intuition and gut feelings are our internal compass guiding us and warning us along the way. Don’t just listen to your inner voice, empower it. If I had really listened to and trusted my nagging gut feelings I would have researched this opportunity more and probably would have confirmed it wasn’t right for me before the meeting.
What is Intuition and Gut Feelings?
There are lots of ideas out there and even a growing library of research trying to “name” it and prove it really exists. Some ask, is it God, a second brain, guardian angels or is it just a wiser version of yourself? I don’t know. None of that really matters to me because I know that whoever it is…they always seem to have my back—no matter how many times I ignore them and talk bad to them. I can’t say that about anyone else in my life. Sometimes there are things in our lives that we can’t explain, prove or name but we’ve “experienced” it and we know that it’s very real and something more than what it seems. For me this is one of those things.
Do you have a gut feeling or intuition story? Share it with us here or on Facebook.
Read more about the science behind Gut Feelings and Intuition: