Thursday, May 26, 2011

Listen to your gut

A man, I’ll call him Jim, called me seeking advice about how to file a patent for his invention.  That call saved him more than $1,000!  Before he called me he had called one of those “patent places” that he found on line.  He told them about his invention and they told him it was a great idea. All he had to do was send them the money and they would get the patent process started.  Can you say SCAM!?I warned him that these people prey on inventors.  They will tell you that you have a brilliant million-dollar idea and ask you to send money to start the patent process.  It’s money you will never see again nor will you ever see a legitimate patent.  I told him that when anyone asks you for money up front - run!   Thankfully he did.     

He was so grateful and said that he had a “gut” feeling it was a bad idea to send them the money but he checked with the Better Business Bureau and no complaints had been filed against the company.   I informed him that these scammers were masters at changing their names so often that by the time someone complains they are operating under an entirely new name.

I also told him that he should always listen to his gut.  When it comes to decisions about your business and your life for that matter – your gut feeling is often the very best tool at your disposal.  Listening to it and paying attention to it can save you from making huge mistakes.  The challenge is that your gut feelings aren’t something you can necessarily explain or see on paper. 

I believe humans, like animals, have a built in survival mechanism that allows us to sense danger.  We can sense when something isn’t right.   We instinctively know when to run.  Our challenge is that as humans we have access to so much other information that can interfere with our ability to pay attention to that instinct. Think about it.  How many times have you found yourself in a place or with a person where you felt uncomfortable, perhaps even unsafe?   By all outward appearances there was no good reason to feel that way – but you still did.  Hopefully you got yourself out of there!      

I can think of occasions when I’ve met people or organizations that wanted to do business with me who “looked good on paper” but my gut was uneasy.  Something didn’t “feel” right. Fortunately I listened to my gut and steered in another direction only to later learn that my gut right when things eventually came to light about that individual or organization.   

In Jim’s case he contacted the Better Business Bureau about the patent company and everything checked out - but his gut was still uneasy.   He was so close to sending the money because he wanted to believe that they would make him a millionaire!  This is when we make mistakes.  We hire the wrong people because we want to fill the job so badly.   We partner with the wrong people thinking they will bring us the success we desire.  Sometimes our need and drive for success can overshadow our natural gut instincts so we don’t listen to that inner voice only to regret it later and look back and think  - yeh – something didn’t feel right but I did it anyway.

The lesson here is to always listen to your gut.  Even if you can’t explain why- when something doesn’t feel right – don’t do it! 

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