Warning Bells

This morning I was reading more about the big losses at JPMorgan Chase. By most accounts, warning bells had been going off about the danger the bank was facing with its trading activities in London. Executives were tranquilized by their optimism. This type of emotional illusion is often present at the downfall of leaders.

This myopia, however, isn’t the exclusive purview of organizational leaders. We all get caught up in it from time to time. There was a groundswell of optimism in the U.S. about the continuous rise of housing prices. While there were some on the edges, who warned of the fallacy of this belief, many bet their 401k accounts or acquired greater debt than was prudent under the spell of this infectious optimism.

Warming bells go off and we don’t heed them. We believe they are not meant for us. Our intuition is often screaming “NO” and we override the warning with tranquilizing stories that are logical. It is the flaw of logical thinking that blinds us. There is no logic that can understand the complexity of the world. We can’t yet explain how a plant knows to grow roots and leaves and flowers. How then can we logically explain an economic system that is as much hidden as it is visible?

If we reorient our guidance system and allow intuition to be the centerpiece, we will rarely experience surprises. I’m not advocating ignoring the logical mind. I suggest we use it in a different way. Instead of having it be the captain of our boat, give it a new job. This job is to gather information that helps us better understand what our intuition is showing us. This broadened understanding helps us act with greater confidence and feel more peaceful.

I’m trusting intuition more and more. I see life-long patterns that orient me to not trust it. Every time I have ignored intuition lately, I look back and realize it showed me the truth of a situation and my mind’s confidence was not well placed. The journey continues.

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