A-Z Survival Guide to Life
G – Gut Instinct
This is the seventh installment in the A-Z Survival Guide to Life I am writing for my boys.
Gut instinct is probably one of the more nebulous topics we will be covering in this guide. I can’t give you many guidelines on how to note when your gut instinct is ramping up, but I can give you some tips as to when it might be a really good idea to follow your intuition and not the rationalizations forming in your brain.
I can tell you it has taken me years to learn to listen to my gut (and there is a lot to listen to, there I said it before anyone else could). Here are some issues when you really need to stop, and listen.
There will be signs – There are signs everywhere, signs that are trying to stop you from reaching a destination, signs that are stopping you from making a decision that might not be in your best interest. I know have told you this before, about the time your father and I left you two in Mississippi and drove to Jacksonville to go house hunting. We were about an hour out of Mobile when suddenly we spun out. After righting the car, we pulled to the side of the road, and realized we had not one but three flat tires. I can’t tell you how that happened but it did. We were towed to a garage in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and spent the following four hours shooting the breeze with Jimmy Joe and Billy Bob as we waited for the specialty tires to be delivered from Mobile. In the end we were towed back up to Mobile to have the tires replaced. In hindsight, after going through three hurricanes and one case of meningitis (in 4 months), we realized those three flat tires were a sign, that we should have bypassed Jacksonville altogether.
If something is too good to be true – it probably isn’t true. This goes for all kinds of things. If you hear of way to make money quickly, chances are there is probably a catch somewhere. Go with your gut instinct on this. If the numbers look right, but the yield is way above the average, run the other direction. Think about all those really intelligent professionals that got scammed by Bernie Madoff – or any of those other scams we have watched on American Greed, the greed wasn’t only on the side of the con man, but it was also on the side of those people that thought they could buck the system, beat the odds, and make some money.
If something doesn’t feel right – turn and walk away. This goes for all kinds of things, people, houses, used cars, purchases on Ebay or a shopping network. I specifically think of houses. I have rented several houses over the years that I didn’t feel quite right about, but I repressed that gut instinct because the price was right, the location was good or the gardens were beautiful. Two of those house that I absolutely loved, but had little twinges of doubt that I chose to ignore. In the end, I discovered one of those house was haunted by a boy that had hung himself in the garage (Boy in the Rain), the other pictures flew off the wall, doorknobs turned at night, and I saw a full-bodied apparition (Haunted House in the Mountains). I have since learned to pay attention to those little twinges of doubt, that foreboding feeling, when entering a house.
As far as people go, that is a tricky issue. I always said if I could have one super power, I would wish for the ability to read people’s minds, get to their hidden agendas and unspoken motives. Watch out for the people with the fancy houses, the expensive cars, the opulent clothes – because it could just all be a façade. Remember when we went to Universal Studios and went onto the back lot. They had the “Cat in the Hat” right next to the Bates Motel from “Psycho”. All those sets were just facades being held up by poles from behind. They sure looked real in the movies, but up close and with all the special effects and lights stripped away – they were nothing. Same with people, they have a costume they put on every day, the face they save for the public. That brings to mind, the lyrics from the Beatles song, Eleanor Rigby –
Waits at the window,
wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for
I love that song.
Anyway, don’t believe that people are who they are. Go with your gut instinct on people. Watch for the girls with the heavy make-up, the fake fingernails, the extensions, and the silicone breasts. They may look enticing from a distance, but when you pull all the accoutrements away, are they able to hold a conversation, are they really someone with depth? Not that I have anything against all that stuff, but you have to wonder what they are hiding from themselves and the rest of the world.
And remember, some of the nicest, most agreeable people can turn out to be psychopaths.
And like we said just today – a turd coated in 24karat gold is still just a turd.
Listen to your gut, pay attention to the signs, question those things that seem too good, and save yourself a whole bunch of grief.
Photo credit – thecoachexperience.com