Follow your heart – a plea for more acceptance of heart and stomach decisions

The second part of Martina's (People Development) Corona-Boost: Intuition Articles

from  Martina Stolz

Foreword: It is no secret that we at REWE make digitally data-driven decisions. Because in this way we contribute to providing our customers with the best shopping experience, both stationary and digital.

But of course there is also a human side to our working world. One that makes us listen to our stomach feeling and decide with our heart. That this is anything but a contradiction can be seen in the second Corona Boost: Intuition article by Martina Stolz (People Development) entitled "Follow your heart". 

For a long time, mankind has not been exposed to so many open questions and challenges as it is today. But what do you do if the facts are not sufficient to make a decision that at best involves a low risk? In the end, all that remains is probably the gut feeling that is familiar to everyone, but which is denied in most parts of social life. The intuition. Yes, you heard right. Corona teaches us to once again pay attention to this inherent human competence. Which is truly a gift.

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." - Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein already defended intuition in grand words - and recently, renowned scientists and decision psychologists have been doing so again. After all, the faster a decision has to be made, the less time there is for the endless collection of data. Or we are faced with decisions for which numbers, data and facts only tell us half the truth. Questions for which nobody knows the right answer. 

Since Corona we know again how it feels when seemingly omniscient search engines no longer spit out the perfect answer. Because neither Google nor Yahoo, nor other beloved decision support tools, tell us what to do. Can the boss of a company, due to economic pressure, be responsible for sending his own employees to their daily work, even though they are exposed to incalculable risks? Can we perhaps meet our best friend for a short time after all, because we lack the common conversation, the common laughter, the infinite ease of being to an excessive degree? Is it okay to visit your own mother because the desire is just too great? Nobody and nothing will make the decision for us in these situations. There it sneaks up on us again, this mean risk. The hard truth is: we are left to our own again in many situations.

Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions

But what happens in us when we make decisions intuitively? Is it really the flash of inspiration, the almost mystical event that nobody can explain? No. Our intuition is the product of multiple experiences. A brain activity that cannot be expressed by speech, but which can still be felt by humans. Emotions whose origins cannot be brought to consciousness. Inner voice, but not randomness. 

We are smarter than we think. Because even though we have learned over decades, even centuries, to have everything under safe control, our brain works according to its own form. We can count on one thing: ourselves. Because without noticing it, we store experiences, good and bad, useful ones and those that do not need to be repeated. Do we manage to trust ourselves? To give the stomach and the heart - depending on where we feel it - a chance? Maybe this requires a journey back to ourselves. At least it has never hurt. 

Don’t be afraid to live in the dirt

For hours we could now analyse why intuition has lost acceptance and significance in social and economic life. More exciting, however, is undoubtedly where the boost of gut feeling already started before Corona: in the start-up scene, where else. When looking at the most dynamic, disruptive and above all successful of its kind, many people quickly feel left out. But the good news is: there is a little bit of start-up in each of us - and in REWE digital anyway.

The decision psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer from the Max Planck Institute in Berlin conducted extensive research and found a crucial common feature in the successful development of start-ups: trust in the founders' own intuition and the associated willingness to take risks. After all, in addition to all the good analyses and facts, the winner in the end is the one who has the courage at the right time to trust his own intuition, to decide, to act. 

Because speed counts. This applies equally to start-ups and pandemics. Corona gives a significant boost to intuition through the need for quick, yet risky decisions.

But let us be warned here: Intuitive decisions are neither a high-speed train to paradise, nor are they always the means of choice. Even if Oliver Samwer flaunts the quote mentioned here "Don't be afraid to live in the dirt" in his usual provocative manner: just as hard can be some work and some gritting of teeth, only to know in the end whether you have done the right thing. Because with all the praise for intuition, we must not forget: it can also go wrong. But the beautiful thing is, whether we like it or not, our brain stores the experience and will help us in the next decision if we let it. And then, to say it in the words of Nikolas Müller: Head up and ass in the saddle!

Let’s nourish the brain!

Without doubt, listening to our stomach feeling requires a lot of courage and consequently a lot of pain. And not every decision can be made with it. But our heart, our belly, our intuition, whatever we call it, is, with all the uncertain future, a faithful companion. I visited my mother. I visited my father. And even though it made me cry, not hugging them, not chatting lightheartedly and not moving freely through the house and garden, but meeting them in divided seating areas two metres apart, it brought endless positive results. I have learned to do this, consciously and unconsciously and for the next situation I have brought my brain one more experience that serves as a breeding ground for intuition. 

In the end, the only thing left to do is the thing with feeling. Because in order to decide intuitively to do something or not to do it, we have to perceive our feelings. And although we deliberately avoid the raised index finger at screen times, alienation of nature and other vices of our digital age, it should be said: In order to feel our own signals, we need contact with ourselves and moments of calm, whatever that may mean individually for everyone. And due to Corona, we have numerous opportunities to do so again through the, albeit not voluntary, deceleration of our lives. 

Wherever we are in this regard - science agrees that existing intuition can be trained and lost ones can be learned again. Humans learn through constant repetition. The more often we dare to feel our intuition, the more often we will feel it. So let us give heart and belly a deserved chance.

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Melanie Pöplau

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