I know, easy to say; sometimes hard to know where your “signals” are really originating. Intuition guided our predecessors’ survival long, long ago: fight or flight, am I going to be eaten or will it provide me a meal, big winter or easy hunting? Today’s situation is similar but we can tune into different signals that are drowning in modern background noise of a thousand radio/TV/internet voices.
Gut response is immediate, a fiber signal that takes a millisecond, and I often can’t hear it because I’m too involved mentally, relying on my slow microprocessor, the brain. Good old brain receives the gut signal “…something funny here”, and rationalizes it with the cumbersome gate of a 1970s computer: “Comparing databases, check. That guy looks familiar, check.” and so on until we’ve completely lost the original signal and rationalized our way into a really dumb or possibly dangerous situation.
So I glance at the things I need to be working on or that need improvement in my life and my work. I can’t lie; stuff sticks out like cactus needles that are the immediate signals from my gut. What does my brain do with them? Well, the physics of inertia is one of them: “Ah, I’m doing something else right now, maybe later”, or “I’m overwhelmed with things that need attention, I can’t fix that today”. So I do the easy thing, which is to fix something else that maybe doesn’t need fixing. Do I feel better about the things that are poking into me?…no. There is one thing to do and that is to START on the damn things that need attention.
Some of these things that need work take years to develop and some projects take a day or a week when the payoff is almost immediate. I had the realization some time ago that no matter what direction I had taken in my life, no matter what job area(s) I had worked myself into, I would be in about the same place right now. It was about THE DOING of the work, with some forward-looking radar running in the background, taking signals from my GUT and telling me to tack against the wind now, to run with the wind when the weather changed, and keep my eye on the distant horizon. Simple survival skills from our reliable lizard brain with an overlay of learned complex signal rendition and songs from the twentieth century form what I referred to earlier: Intuition.
I can’t emphasize enough that doing the work, even if it turns out to be the WRONG work, is fighting entropy; the gradual slide into random-ness. Doing the work sharpens the brain’s ability to hear your gut when it says “Hey, this needs attention”. Doing the work develops intuition which enables you to tack or run with the wind, to pick the (sometimes) subtle signals out of the noise and act correctly. Some of today’s anxiety is economic: will my income disappear?….can we afford to get sick? We have many other sources of angst, also (as did our ancient ancestors), so I’m doing the work to move beyond where I am now.