There are some decisions I make really quickly and there are others over which I agonize. The difference between which ones are which, isn’t about the size of an investment or the complexity of the situation, it is my gut.

How does it play out?  I have made the decision to walk away from clients when I took a moment to think about what was causing me to hesitate before making a proposal for new business.

Similarly, I have tackled some very contentious issues without hesitation. In each case, I felt better once the way forward was clear and the choice we made was consistent with my values and of course, my gut feelings.

What I am learning is to pay attention to the hesitation. That’s my gut telling me that there are issues.

In an effort to learn from my “gut-o-meter” I ask myself three questions: 

  1. Why I am hesitating? This involves slowing down to simply listen to my inner self.  Is there an underlying problem in moving ahead?
  2. What are the risks of making the wrong choice?This could be anything from losing money, to hurting someone’s feelings to unintended consequences.
  3. How will I feel when I make a choice? This means taking more time to make the decision or collecting additional information, changing my direction and determining whether taking that time will cause me more anxiety and/or change the outcome.

He who hesitates is lost” is a profound saying from my childhood.  To me it means that the hesitation itself is meaningful with “lost” meaning without direction.  It would also forecast that once a choice is made that the path forward is clear.

Another phrase, keine antwort ist auch eine antwort (no answer is also an answer) is one I learned in high school German.  In other words if you don’t reach a conclusion, one will be reached anyway. Often, the silence is not only deafening it’s debilitating.

I am trying to make my hesitations matter and my answers  faster – my gut is thanking me.