I love moments that create a big impact. The type of impact that I learn from and build on for the rest of my life.
Here’s a story of one of those moments that changed my life. Use this lesson in your business and personal life.
My gut tells me it will change you as it has me.
It was the summer of 2011. Against all questioning and judgments (there were plenty), I took my two younger sons, ages 5 and 10, on a 6-week road trip to 9 National Parks.
Using an old school paper AAA TripTik, I mapped out our drive from the west coast, to the midwest, through the northern states, and home again. Camping in incredible spots, and staying in haunted hotels, my sister-in-law and her two kids joined us for the first week. That bonding time transformed our relationships.
My boys and I packed an overloaded rented minivan and wrote “Road Trip or Bust” on the windows. We had a rule of “no whining.” No electronics were allowed in the car, not even a portable tv.
Instead, we made up games with math facts, asked questions that made us think about life, and played the jelly bean game on an empty stomach .. which made them sick. (Having boys, I thought they would get a kick out of jelly beans that were called fart and throw-up, but guess what? Moms aren’t always right.)
My intention for this trip was simple: to have fun.
Our kids need the freedom to be kids in a world that is overly structured.
We listened to music and sang as loud as we wanted. We stopped when we saw snow and threw snowballs. If we wanted to hike, we hiked. We got up early and watched sunrises. And we stayed up late just because we could.
Here is where the lesson comes in.
We were driving the San Juan Scenic Byway through Colorado. The four kids had just been in a fight that caused me to pull the car over and wait over an hour for an apology from one of them.
Oh, the memories.
Soon we hit the road again. And that road came to a fork.
I was driving, and my sister-in-law was in the passenger seat. She looked at the map and said, “We need to go left here.”
I looked at her and said, “But my gut says right.”
She showed me the map, “Go left.”
I replied, “I wanna go right.”
And then I turned right.
The kids started questioning what I was doing.
I promised as I do many times when I’m hiking, “Just a little bit, and then we can turn around if there’s nothing there.”
And suddenly, just like that, we landed in Telluride. This amazing little town surrounded by mountains and waterfalls, I’ll never forget the excitement in our car.
Beauty and magic were everywhere!
We hiked to the falls in the late afternoon, laughing on the trail at how my “right” suddenly landed us behind schedule to get to Wisconsin where the family was waiting.
Was it worth it?
Million-dollar views and an experience we would never forget.
Afterward, we grabbed dinner in town, and the kids threw on their pajamas to sleep in the car.
But then another pivot happened.
We saw the free gondola ride.
So we grabbed our blankets and stuffed animals and hopped on the last lift of the evening.
Oh, the magic we had while the gondola climbed the mountain under those stars!
We called my mom and dad and told them where we were .. Sitting in a gondola at 10:00 pm in a very unexpected space. We laughed at how a “right turn” also brought us here.
This became a lesson in trusting your gut.
A lesson of trusting your intuition, even when the map and data say, “Go this way.”
A lesson in pivoting when you choose… Because you choose.
A lesson in the alignment of the brain, heart, and gut.
Let’s look at the science behind this.
As I wrote in my book, Walk Through This: Harness the Healing Power of Nature and Travel the Road to Forgiveness:
It’s important to know that neuroscience research has shown we actually have three brains: our head brain or “cephalic brain,” our heart brain or “cardiac brain,” and our gut brain or “enteric brain.” Each of these brains is a complex information-processing center made of billions of neurons working in synchronicity.
- The head brain analyzes information and keeps us in a state of consciousness. It provides meaning and gives language to our life.
- The heart brain senses the world through emotions and feelings. Our values come from our heart as do our interpersonal relationships.
- The gut brain provides us with intuition and understanding of who we are in the world. From here we respond to danger, red flags, and life challenges.
As a society, we’ve often been conditioned to make choices with our heads, typically by analyzing numbers, behavior patterns, and data.
But approaching a decision intuitively is different. Your brain works in alignment with your heart and gut, assessing all of your memories, desires, and needs in order to make the best decision possible.
Tapping into your intuition is a necessary tool for all of us.
And yes, it is extremely valuable for leaders in business.
I’m sure you have felt the pit in your stomach at some point in your life. That’s your gut speaking. This same gut and intuition can guide us to make decisions and choices leading teams and businesses in the right direction.
Give yourself space and listen.
What is your gut telling you?
And will you follow through on what your gut is saying?
Try listening and test it out.
The more you play in this space, the more you realize how spot-on your gut actually is.
I believe in you / us.. Always. And I always will.
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