When Faith and Gut Collide

It’s getting close to October 10 and that’s when my twins will turn 19 years old.  Not unlike many parents, I think back to their arrival day and how they arrived 5 weeks early.

Looking back, I recall the enormous amount of faith I had in my doctor but I also how I relied heavily on my gut instincts.  The first time I went into labor, I was 26 weeks pregnant.  I called the doctor because I felt funny (yep, best words I had at the time) and the conversation went like this:

Doc:  “Do you think you’re in labor?”

Me:  “I have no idea – this is my first pregnancy, remember —  I just know that something doesn’t feel right.”

Doc:  “Meet me at the hospital.”

He trusted his gut with my response even though he had no idea I’d end up having a high-risk pregnancy.  Sure enough, those babies were fighting to come out and continued to do so for weeks after that.  We did this routine 5 more times through full-time bed rest, preeclampsia and sucking down meds to suppress contractions.  I was terrified of the impact this stress and the medication would have on the babies – there was no WedMD at the time (which is probably a good thing, looking back!)

I had faith in my doctor but I never questioned my gut.

In our world, we have faith in many of the people around us.  We have faith they will be responsible, make good decisions and do the right thing. When we take that chance and we’re proven right, it’s a good reinforcement that people generally have a desire to do well for themselves and for others.

As for me, it goes against all I want to believe in to even think that people have negative intentions, but I’d also be an idiot if I believed it didn’t exist.  That’s when we revert back to what our gut is saying.

I don’t believe that trusting our gut instinct is the equivalent of taking a chance.  When we trust ourselves, and our experiences, we have a higher probability of being spot on most of the time.

My question to you is this:

Have you ever had a time in your life – whether it’s at the office or with a personal matter when the faith you had in someone collided with what your gut was telling you?

It doesn’t always need to be a massive, earth shattering moment – but you immediately know it when it happens.  You just sit back in your chair, open up your mental manuscript of “life experiences” and add a new chapter.

Did that experience cause you to be more cynical of people going forward or do you continue to have faith in people?

I do continue to have faith in people but when the voice of my instinct speaks to me, I hear it loud and clear and adjust accordingly.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

About the Author

Kimberly Patterson

Kimberly Patterson is the founder of Unconventional HR. An HR pro turned consultant, she has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader in a variety of industries. Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology. Connect with her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kimberly_patt, or at kim@unconventionalhr.com.


chi boy

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Rolet online

Your style is so unique compared to other people I have read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you ave got the opportunity, Guess I all just book mark this site.

Carol Harnett

I like your post, Kimberly.

Call me what you will (many people call me, Polly…short for Pollyanna), I will always return to my overall faith in the general goodness of people.

That said, about 13 years ago, I learned to trust — and act upon — my gut feelings. I basically have no regrets in my life so far but, in hindsight, the only times things didn’t go quite the way I wished, it was usually because I ignored what my gut was telling me.

Jennifer Payne

Nice post Kimberly! I often struggle with what’s my gut, and what’s just plain paranoia…a fine line at times since they are both fed by past experience. But as a good friend of mine always says, if you listen closely enough you’ll know the difference. Wise words to live by, in both personal and professional life.

And by the way, you can’t possibly be old enough to have 19 year old twins 🙂

Kimberly Roden

I agree with you Steve… it can be easy to sway to the pessimistic side in this field we’re in and much of the success of HR professionals in working with people is our overall perception of people. It affects how we communicate and we are perceived by others. It’s also much more labor intensive to carry the burden of having people earn trust.

Thank you for your comment, Steve!

Kimberly Roden

Thanks for your comments Dave… yea, sure… 35, that’s the number!

I agree with all that you’ve said but the one thing that I’ve learned about people is that some life experiences will change them and how they think. I would say that “most” people are pragmatic and draw from life experiences. Have you ever met folks who have a cynical mindset from the get-go and the positive has to be proven to them? You may notice it and they will rarely admit it.

Thanks again for your comment.

Steve Browne

This is a great post Kimberly !! Too many HR people don’t make this great correlation !! You have truly hit on a great aspect of intuition as a tool in HR.

I absolutely agree with you !! I think too many HR people walk into work each day thinking the worst of people when actually the “worst” are probably 5% to 10% of the actual workforce and they miss the 90% to 95% that their gut tells them are AWESOME !!

Have I been disappointed when my gut was wrong on someone? Absolutely. But, I’ve never given up on the tenet that you should GIVE trust first, not make people EARN it. People are amazing and I will continue to feel that even in the midst of any disappointing situation. I know I’ve disappointed folks. They stuck with me though. How can we do anything less ??

Dave Ryan

I will assume that you were at least 17 when you gave birth to you twins, and they are 19 now – so that makes you at least – say 35, right? Well now you are much older and wiser. I think it must be that, as in my case since my gut is bigger now, it helps me to make better decisions. There that;s some pretty good logic.

So much of what you are talking about is your collectively life experiences to this point. We all learn from them. You body tellls you when things are not right. Doctor are not always right – they do call it practicing medicine. Listen to your gut!

As far a being more cynical, you might call it pragmatism, having more expereinces to draw upon, makes us wiser too!


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