Being a recruiter helped me hone my gut. No, not the gut from countless beers from boozy client meetings, but my instincts. As a recruiter, I dealt with both honest candidates and managers… and liars that cost me thousands of dollars. When that happens to you, you learn to start listening to a lot less with your ears and focus on the feeling in your belly. Do you trust your gut?
Regardless of what you do for a living, you have probably felt the pain of doing something against your better instincts. You listened to your head and not your heart—whether about the details of a proposal, the advice of a colleague, or considering a new hire. How many times in life have we clenched our teeth and grunted, “I know I shouldn’t have _____!”
When is it time to hunt for a new job? Is the company offering you a position truly right for you?
In this article, I’ll be addressing the real ultimate decision-maker in terms of quitting your job and accepting offers from other companies: your gut.
When I used to wear a recruiter hat, and was trying to pull candidates who weren’t actively looking for a new role, the first thing I’d do—after making sure they were qualified for the position—was to discover the person’s wound.
No one is going to leave a job if they’re happy, content, appreciated, and well-compensated. But they were chatting with me for a reason. Why? What was their motivation? The source of their career unhappiness?
Before you decide to leave a role, make sure you have a real wound, a legitimate reason to ditch your present employer and look at something new. Be honest with yourself, and listen, in the end, to your gut.
Are you really just bored? What if you were able to take on a new role within your current company? Are you irked you’re not making as much as you thought? If you were honest with your manager, and received a solid bonus, would you still want to leave? Are you only being tempted by a large pay increase? Deep down, despite the extra dough, would you actually miss your work and present colleagues?
Sometimes, we’re in the seemingly perfect role, but we’re still not happy. That’s your gut gnawing at you. It’s your subconscious, it’s your dreams whispering a deeper truth. Sometimes it’s nebulous, and jotting down clunky lists of positives and negatives don’t cut to the real heart of the matter.
If you’re unhappy, aching to move on, but can’t quite articulate why, listen to your gut. Don’t make any moves or decisions until you can clarify what’s going on inside your subconscious. It’s an internal warning system that has grown within you up through the rich soil of your unique experiences, your failures, successes, and aspirations. Ignore it at your peril.
I have found simply walking in an open, meditative way, a good method for quieting the other voices in your head, the advice of your friends, and just allowing the deeper core of the self to speak. Don’t think, don’t analyze, simply walk, enjoy the beauty of the park or beach, and just listen. Listen to your gut. Block out the noise, the logic, and let a deeper voice come through.
Samurai in feudal Japan used to take three breaths before making a decision. Three breaths, and then you make it. Also, they believed one should take serious things lightly, and light things seriously. At some point in your walk or meditation, take three breaths, and right there and then, make your decision. It will be the right answer because it will be from your gut, from the most concrete “real” you of the many “yous” that make up your personality.
Whether or not you believe in New Age stuff or prefer a scientific approach, the truth is still that there is nothing silly about listening to your instincts. You can’t be wishy-washy about it: listen, and decide. There is no further negotiation. You don’t need to offer explanations (that just shows weakness and invites people to try to sway you away from what your gut told you to do). Listen to yourself, make the decision, and take action.
That’s what I did. I gave all I had to the world of recruitment, but something about it never quite fit. I avoided the problem, I ignored my guts—and why not? I was doing very well and enjoyed many aspects of recruitment. And still, I knew I was a round peg trying to fit into a square hole.
I listened. And a huge weight lifted and I felt more alive, more me, than I ever was before.
Are your guts ever wrong? Yep. You didn’t think life would ever get easier, did you? I met a manager once who wanted to hire me for a role. He hadn’t read my CV thoroughly. He seemed distracted. I didn’t enjoy the interview, and my gut told me to move on.
I was honest with the manager, and he confessed he had a terrible day, everything went south, and I was correct: he was distracted. He asked me to interview with a different manager one more time. My instincts started to change. It was mighty big of him to offer a second interview. Though my gut still didn’t want to go through with it, I went against it based on the new facts, and yes, took the new job. And it did work out.
The lesson is to find that balance between the facts and your gut. In the end, you have to make the decision. You are in control, not your left brain, not your right brain, just your wife… I mean your gut. It is not the only source you should listen to, not a magical oracle, but it should factor in your major decisions.
Take a walk. Three breaths. And simply listen.
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