Trust Your Gut Instincts!

By | March 10, 2019

[March 10, 2019] As my driver and I approached the main gate of an Iraqi combat base, something didn’t seem quite right. Our vehicle was fully armored, but that can’t protect you that against 30 armed soldiers (or were they, insurgents?). Luckily, we were able to turn around and beat a hasty retreat. Later we found out that insurgents had taken over the gate to ambush unsuspecting Americans. I trusted my gut instincts that day, and we survived.

Instincts are a product of relevant experiences, education, common sense, and a balanced personality. Some people have an abundance of it; some have – it seems – none of it. Some call it a “sixth sense” or a “gut feeling.” When seconds count, gut instincts and the ability to make quick decisions can make the difference in life or death. That day, back in the latter part of the war, most of my soldiers and I had grown an outsized ability to detect ambushes and setups.

A leader cannot afford the luxury of standing around with their mouth open when the unexpected occurs. Situations often require fast thinking and quick action. A developed instinct will cut short the time that others take to recover their thinking ability. Thinking itself takes time but many times life depends on something faster.

Like the hunted animal that will not go into your carefully-constructed trap, a well-honed instinct can save your life. Often, instincts work in preventing things from happening and this is what you want. There will be times when things don’t feel right; there’s doubt in your mind whether what you’re doing is right or wrong. Your gut instinct is telling you something is not right. Pay attention to it.

On early September 11, 2001, a soldier assigned to my battalion was late to meet a friend to eat breakfast in the Twin Towers, Manhattan, New York. He arrived just as American Airlines flight 11, hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists, slammed into the North Tower. NYPD police officers told him that it was still safe to enter the South Tower. He declined and walked away. Fortunately for him, he was out of the destructive radius when the towers fell. His gut instinct saved his life that day.

Following your instincts can be a lifesaver but following it also means being able to make quick decisions based on experience and intellect. But when things quickly go to hell, gut instincts can save you and those around you.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

14 thoughts on “Trust Your Gut Instincts!

  1. Willie Shrumburger

    In the same way that I tend to make up my mind about people within thirty seconds of meeting them, I also make up my mind about whether a business proposal excites me within about thirty seconds of looking at it. I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics. – Richard Branson

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      Here is one that is my favorite.
      “Trust your hunches. They’re usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.” by Dr. Joyce Brothers

  2. Kenny Foster

    A special welcome to all the new readers of Gen. Satterfield’s blog. I’m told there are many new folks on reading his articles. I will say that I’ve enjoyed them for a couple of years and like to post as much as possible. Writing helps me think. I know that sounds nuts but I’ve read that writing is the one skill that helps force our minds to work. 🙂

    1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      Hi Kenny. Yes, I’m one of the new readers and like it to read the articles and the comments.

    2. JT Patterson

      Hi everyone, I’m a new reader and happy I found this leader website. I can’t read every day but I’ll do my best to make sage comments to add to the discussion.

  3. Jung Hoon Kim

    Very good words and advice. You are to be thanked for what is written here.

  4. José Luis Rodriguez

    Good article for a Sunday morning. While I drink my coffee, I’m sitting back to take in the morning. To read about “gut instincts” is a pleasure. Thanks.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      I was thinking the same thing. But I have my dog at my side too. Always good to read about how our ‘instincts’ play a role in our ability to succeed.

  5. Shawn C. Stolarz

    I’m sure there are many who have trusted their “instincts” and got burned. We all have. But what we should remember is that the gut feeling only gives us a hint something might not be right. It is up to us with our experiences and brainpower to figure out what to do.

  6. Gil Johnson

    In Gen. Satterfield’s Daily Favorite today, he has two articles on British PM Margaret Thatcher. She passed away a few years ago but when she was first elected as PM, I thought “wow,” this is a great woman who will lead Britain out of its economic and social slump. That was my gut instinct. I was right! This is an example of how your gut instinct can tell you the right thing.

    1. Joe the Aussie

      Even those of us “down under” appreciated her … maybe more so. Cheers!

    2. Janna Faulkner

      Margaret Thatcher is an example of how women can do whatever they want if only they focus on it. No obstacle can prevent that. The whiners of today should take a lesson from her.


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