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Monica Wofford, CSP, is a professional speaker and CEO of Contagious Companies, a training and consulting firm that develops better leaders and trains managers how to become better leaders. Her Monday Moment has been a popular leadership learning tool since 2006!

Listening to your instincts is like talking to yourself except you don’t answer back.

In recent Monday Moments we‘ve talked about your leadership health and trust. When the team trusts you it increases the health of the team and usually the wealth of your organization. But what about your own trust in you? Or more importantly, what happens when you DON’T trust you or your own instincts? If you do, these insights will help you understand those who don’t. If you don’t, the following reasons may explain why and guide you to get back to listening to your own instinctive guidance.

Not Sure Which Voice is Real

I’m reading a book about writing books and in it the author focuses a great deal of attention on the B-word voice. She calls it the B in your head and tells you how to talk to it and get it to hush until you need it. We all have an inner critic and sometimes mine is LOUD, but that voice is not usually your instincts. It’s your fears and your brain’s hard wired efforts to keep you safe. We can build up fears to such a degree that they’re louder than our own inner knowing. Both voices are real, but your instincts are usually more quiet, yet persistent. If you’re not sure which voice to listen to, find a quiet spot and listen for the voice that feels like an inner knowing and guide, who is standing behind the loud mouthed, panicked fear monger.

They Have Failed Me in the Past

When leaders talk about following their instincts and how well that worked out, it is usually not a discussion about their first encounter with trusting their gut. That feeling of satisfaction comes from a habit of hearing internal guidance and following it. It can be scary at first and requires a small step of faith, so to speak, particularly if you feel they have failed you in the past. No matter your belief on the source of this guidance, chances are it is not the instinct that led you astray, but your own change or denial of what it was guiding you to do at the time. Instincts grow in strength when followed. They grow in volume when someone’s listening. Ignore them and they get more quiet and tend to take a back seat. If you’ve not listened in a while or followed in some time, it may take a bit of persuasion to get them to lead you again.

I don’t Have Instincts

Bologna! We all have an internal knowing, inside guide on the side, and instincts. As I’m writing three books on the value of authentic connections at the moment, this topic has become an important area of focus at the moment. What I’ve learned is those who don’t believe they have instincts have simply forgotten how to listen to them. We spend so much time being told what to do, what to think, what to believe and how to behave that many adults have forgotten how to sense, intuit, or feel what is best for them. It is a part of our DNA and hardwiring as people, adults and certainly as leaders. You have them and there is research backing that up. To read one quick bit of research, click here. To practice listening to them, turn off the TV, shut down Facebook, and pay attention to the chatter in your head.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

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