Trust Your Gut

When should you trust your gut?


Chris Barez-Brown makes the case that in business, we spend too much time thinking and not enough time feeling. To be a creative leader, you must learn to trust your 'gut' and your intuition more.

“Nearly all of my clients would like to spend their time in rooms debating the future instead of going out and doing some stuff and learning from it,” Chris says. “Now if you want to be a great creative, I think you have to change that equation slightly.”

Watch the video for a better understanding of thinking and feeling.

So I used to be quite an intellectual and analytical child. When I was 17 years old, the qualifications I was doing was maths, double maths, triple maths, with some pure maths sprinkled on top to make me fun and interesting. So if I had to make a big decision, I used to use logic with all its power. In fact, I was a big fan of doing pros and cons lists. Now I was such a geek I probably put statistical weightings on them. Then one day I had to make a big decision and analysis wasn't working for me. I got together a bit late in life with my wife and we were having a great, great life. And some people just know they want to have kids and we didn't. So guess what we did? We did pros and cons to make a decision about life.

Now after about six months of going nowhere I said to my wife, "Darling, I know a little bit about how the brain works. We need to make this real. We need to create some experiments around this. We need something that's more visceral rather than just analysis." So what we did is we decided not to have children. And we did that by visualizing our future and locking it in with some NLP techniques. And we lived with it. And what we noticed was fascinating because the first couple of days I was really surprised to find I was quite excited about our future. I started to dream about sports cars, exotic holidays, and lie-ins at the weekends. It was all looking kind of good.

Then, after a couple of days, I started to think, "Well, who would our friends be? What would retirement look like? What would holidays look like in our family?" And I was living in west London at the time, and I found myself around Thursday walking around parks looking longingly at fathers with small children until the police arrived. Then after a while, we decided we were going to have kids. We spent seven days living with the decision that we weren't going to, and after seven days we said no, we're changing our minds, we will. And then we compared how we felt.

Now what we were doing here was we were getting our subconscious to help us make the decision for us. Instead of using analysis and logic and rationality, we were using our guts, our intuition and our feelings to make a decision that was important to our lives. And obviously, we wanted to have kids and we did so.

Now why is that important to you in business? Well, I believe that in business we spend way too much of our time thinking and not enough time feeling. Nearly all of my clients would like to spend their time in rooms debating the future instead of going out and doing some stuff and learning from it. Now if you were to think about your big life decisions, like getting married, having kids, buying houses, my guess would be that you spent about 70 to 80% of that decision using your feelings and intuition and only about 20 or 30% using logic and rationality.

My suggestion would be in business, you reverse that. The reason being is when we're in business we have to sound smart, we have to sound logical and we have to sell our ideas. Now if you want to be a great creative, I think you have to change that equation slightly. I think you have to trust more in your gut, more in your intuition, and you will make way better decisions about the future.


Chris Barez-Brown

Chris Barez-Brown has been unleashing the creative potential of worldwide organizations including Nike, Coca Cola, Diageo, The Gates Foundation, Sony and WPP. He is a master of metamorphosis, challenging and transforming businesses th...

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