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Being a Feeling creature, I have always trusted and followed my heart. In everything. Whether I was buying a house, a car, choosing a career or a travel destination, or simply buying a beautiful pair of shoes. Even more, in 99% of those rare situations that I let my reasoning take over, I simply took the wrong turn.
(no one wares easy shoes anyway, wink)
When I started my business, I went to the store to buy a MacBook Air. Not that I did extensive research before going there, I had simply decided to buy that one because it “felt” as a good choice. Preferably a white one. The young man in the electronics shop explained and explained to me about all its features and when I finally got my saying (the truth is he was so passionate about it that I let him talk), I simply asked if he had it in white. Which he didn’t by the way. So I bought it in silver. Case closed. I could have been in and out in 3 minutes. Best buy ever. Still working on it now.
I’m a Feeling type. I make the best decisions listening to my heart. The minute I find myself reasoning why I should or should not do something, I know I’d better not.
Around me, not in the least in corporate life, I increasingly see people insisting to “learn how to follow your heart”. People that have seen the light, escaped the golden cage, took a risk and succeeded (or pretend to). And although I myself do decide best which way to go based on my feelings, for some people this is simply bad advice.
In life we have our natural preferences when it comes down to making decisions. It is related to our personality in its purest sense. One prefers deciding based on feelings, the other does the same, based on thinking. We could go back one more step, when looking at how we gather information BEFORE we even start to decide. Some use their five senses, other use their sixth alone.
(You may guess mine)
It is perfectly possible to gather your information based on your five senses, and yet still decide based on how you feel. Some people will recognize this. Looking at details, facts, figures first. Exploring all features upfront in my MacBook example. Gather specific information, data to be trusted. And then, even when another laptop may have more features, or a better price/quality ratio, decide that this one “feels” better. Or the other way around, you tend to look at the big picture when gathering your information, without diving into any details, nevertheless still base your decisions on logics, pros and cons, rational arguments alone.
Back to following your heart. Don’t let anyone tell you to follow your heart if you are someone that prefers to handle situations and especially your decisions logically. This is the core element of your decisiveness. You simply make your best decisions when you take the consequent road.
You could say that the way you gather information and how you decide are key elements that contribute to your inner balance. The older we get, the easier it is to understand the opposite preference, and even try it out for ourselves. When you get more mature you see how balancing both ways can work to your advantage. It is not changing who you are, but using your full potential and all aspects of your personality to unlock what is possible in your life and career.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that some people forget or simply don’t know what their natural preference is. Because of education, parental or peer pressure, learned behavior and even worse, unconscious survival strategies. If you get too far from your natural preference, and your personality, chances are that the decisions you make will NOT be to your advantage. And then you get stuck.
When you get stuck in too much ratio or in too much feelings, that is when you need to make a change. Making this change is very simple: when you find yourself overthinking, take a look at how it feels. When you feel too much, and your emotions are limiting you to take the next step (or any step forward), taking some objective distance will no doubt offer you new perspectives.
The best advice? Stick to your core, and find a way to balance both.
If you find it hard to switch perspectives, find someone to guide you through the exercise.
It is simple. Not easy.
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About the author
Being a certified executive and personal coach, Sofie Varrewaere is associated to the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching team and owner of the global executive coaching practice BigFish4.me. As a behavioural expert she has many years of experience working with the top layer of several multinational organizations. Her passions include playing her quarter grand piano and messing around with acrylic paint on large sized linen canvas. When she’s not catching some proverbial Big Fish, you’ll probably find her in her daily boxing class or in the swimming pool. She is luckiest doing what she does best, challenging others and herself to perform at their best