After leading India to a staggering 9th consecutive victory in the World Cup 2015, when Indian Cricket Team Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was asked ‘what was he talking with his ballers during the game?” He replied “I transfer my gut feeling to the bowlers”.
Statistically, Dhoni is the best ever Indian captain and arguably one of the best finishers in One Day International cricket. He is unruffled when going gets tough, and therefore it is not surprising that he has many memorable last over finishes to his credit. Apart from his various leadership qualities, he is also one of the most intuitive leaders and he makes no bones about hiding the fact that he pays keen attention to his “Gut Feeling”!
The familiar feeling and overused cliché "butterflies in the stomach” symbolically refers to the Gut feeling. But does the random and intangible information conveyed by The Gut Feeling actually makes sense, does it have any logic or scientific explanation?
In fact, underlying the sensation of ‘butterflies in stomach’ is frequently unnoticed web of neurons, lining our guts, that is so widespread that some scientists have named it our "second brain". This mass of neural tissue is filled with important neurotransmitters, and consists of coverings of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut, and contains around 100 million neurons, which is more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. These neurons in the enteric nervous system help us understand the information stored in our gut and enable us to interpret the same as - gut feeling. So much, so that the wisdom of information collected during our lifelong learning is stored in this primitive circuitry. Thus, the gut sense conveys data, though obscure, collective and intangible, it gives us collective information about a situation, a holistic understanding of a situation, such as whether a potential business partner would be trustworthy or not. That’s important information, gathered in a very vague and indefinable form collectively called - ‘ intuition or gut feeling’!
As per Antonio Damasio is a neuroscientist at the University of Southern California and head of the Brain and Creativity Institute - “Rather than being opposed, emotion and reason are deeply interrelated: if you're going to make sound and rational decisions, you need to have first done prior accurate emotional processing. If you have done such processing, then your emotions accelerate your decision-making—in the form of intuitions, hunches, and gut feelings. ”
But, shall we simply follow our gut feeling when it comes to rational decision-making? Well, at times we over generalize and associate pain/pleasure experienced in the past to similar objects or situations and may end up making decisions based on the same. As per Daniel Goleman “The best business decisions take into account all the numbers and facts on the table, and then something from beyond the table: the brain’s total understanding of a deal. Specifically, we need to sense our gut feeling.”
No wonder, in an exclusive interview with Cricket Next News Indian Cricket Captain Dhoni said "My gut feeling comes from my past experiences of all the cricket I've played in my life and the situations I have faced. It`s not something you just feel for a moment without any logic".
Great Leaders are increasingly self-aware, are able to understand and interpret their emotions efficiently, are intuitive, get gut feelings, derive information from life wisdom stored in neural circuitry and are able to make collective use of all the information in hand before making a decision.