I read a huge amount of non-fiction books each year. Autobiographies, self-help, popular science, business, you name it, I’ve probably read a book about it.
But through my literary travels, I’ve noticed a number of trends keep bobbing above the waves. One of those trends is to listen to your gut instinct when making decisions, especially when your business is concerned.
Famous entrepreneurs including Richard Branson and Alan Sugar talk of listening to their gut. That it tells them whether a business venture, a decision, is sound.
However, I think this is the worst advice I’ve ever read, especially for those entering a new business arena such as a Youtube gaming channel or gaming blog.
It’s one of the reasons why so many poor decisions, both personally and professionally, are made. And it’s why so many gaming channels, streamers, and gaming blogs fail before they’ve started.
But what is gut instinct and why is it so bad? And what alternative should you rely on? Let’s take a look…
What is gut instinct
Gut instinct, or intuition, is quite hard to explain as we all experience it in a very personal way.
Wikipedia states that a gut instinct is:
“the direct access to unconscious knowledge.”
Notice, how it states access to unconscious knowledge. As if you already possess the knowledge you need, and that your unconscious mind is just pulling it to the surface.
For me, gut instinct is an automatic physical and psychological reaction I get in certain situations. I could be asked whether I think buying a certain GPU is right or wrong. And even if I’ve never heard of the GPU, I’ll instantaneously, almost magically, have a gut reaction telling me whether the GPU is a buy.
Other people experience this in varying ways.
For an amateur racing driver, they may look at the sky and have a gut feeling that later in the race it will rain. Even though the sun is currently bathing the track in heat. They know to head to the pit stop and get rain tires fitted.
For a woman working in the stock market, she may see an opportunity that everybody has missed. She has no data about the stock in question. All she has is years of experience fueling a subconscious drive. Her gut instinct kicks in: Buy, buy, buy.
Everybody experiences this gut instinct in different ways.
However, gut instinct is an incredibly poor way of making decisions for 99% of people.
But why is that?
Why gut instinct shouldn’t be relied on for decision making.
Generally speaking, gut instinct is an incredibly unreliable way of making decisions. Below I’ll explain 3 of the main reasons why.
Lack of experance
Gut instinct is the culmination of years and years of experience within a given field.
Notice the Wikipedia quote from earlier:
“the direct access to unconscious knowledge.”
It suggests a subconscious effort by the mind to access and compute pre-existing knowledge in a way and speed the conscious mind simply can’t.
For example, that instinctive negative response you have to a colleague’s idea, that’s years of experience, billions of neurons developed over tens of years, being accessed by your subconscious at speeds beyond our understanding. You instantly know, this is a bad idea.
Notice though, how you need experience.
Before you can rely on your intuition, you need to have acquired years of knowledge in your field. This vast library of knowledge can be accessed by your subconscious and computed in milliseconds. Something it would take your conscious mind hours if not days to do.
When I look at an unknown graphics card, my wealth of experience with graphics cards is stored away in my mind but is easily accessed by my subconscious.
It notes themes such as the size of the graphics card, the color, types of connectors, the name of the card, the number of fans, the thickness of the card, the length, and height.
Based on all this information, my gut can, in an instant, make a decision about whether the graphics card is a high-end graphics card or a lowly low-end one.
But if I didn’t have this vast reservoir of experience to call on, I would still get a gut feeling about it. This is where problems start.
We get gut instincts about everything, whether we have experience or not. And a lack of experience can lead your gut down the wrong path.
Since you are new to the world of Youtube and game blogging, you don’t have sufficient experience to call on. Instead, your subconscious will use other experiences from other areas of your life. In this case, it will try to squeeze the round peg of your experience into the square hole of the new situation presented to you.
Your gut instincts will, therefore, be wildly inaccurate. But, because we’ve been told by society to listen to our gut instinct, we’ll follow them. Even though there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that we should.
Unless you have a lot of experience in an area or industry, you shouldn’t follow your gut instinct.
Instead, you should use another method to make decisions. We’ll discuss this at the end.
First up I want to touch on another thing that skews our gut instinct: emotional thinking.
Emotional decision making
Your gut instinct is easily manipulated by your emotions. When making big decisions, either professionally or personally, people think they have a gut instinct about a situation when actually it’s just their emotions taking the lead and driving the decision-making process.
A good example of this can be found with my partner’s parents. They were in the market to buy a new car to pull their caravan.
They saw a car, liked the look of it, and loved the drive even more. However, the car was extremely heavy on the gas. And, being from the UK, gas prices aren’t exactly cheap.
But, they were driven by their “gut instinct” that this new car, though heavy on petrol, was the right car: They could feel it tingling in their bones.
Fast forward a few months, and the car was costing too much money to fill with gasoline. They were already thinking about changing back to their old car.
So what happened here?
What they thought was a gut instinct was actually emotional decision-making.
They loved the drive, loved the car, and they wanted it. But, they didn’t look at any figures surrounding the car’s fuel consumption, especially when using a caravan.
If they had, they would have seen the car was not right for them.
So, what we think is gut instinct can sometimes be emotional decision-making.
Decisions should always be made using processes involving actual data.
More on that soon.
Next, I want to talk about biased thinking…
Biased thinking is when we take knowledge from one area of our lives and assume it’s applicable to every area of our lives. This biases our decision-making.
This is because we tend to generalize. In other words, we tend to think, if something works in one place it will work in all places. And if something has worked really well, we are biased to think it will work really well everywhere.
This generalization can lead to poor decisions.
For example, I grabbed my Nvidia 1080ti graphics card(an expensive GPU) and my Nvidia 710 graphics card (A small GPU) and showed them to my mother.
Now, keep in mind that my mother has no knowledge of graphics cards. I asked her, “Based on your gut instinct, which of these graphics cards do you think is the most expensive?”
She looked at them both and immediately said the Nvidia 710 graphics card. A little shocked, I asked why…
This is what she said: Small things such, as smartphones and smartwatches, tend to be more expensive these days than bigger things.
My mum did have a gut instinct for which of the graphics cards were most expensive. But she was completely wrong.
Her experience of electronics is biased by smartphones. This has lead her to the generalized belief that smaller electronic items are always more expensive.
So our gut instincts are biased toward what we know already, and then our subconscious naturally generalizes when faced with the unknown.
Why is this bad?
What works with one thing, may not work at all with another. For example, I’ve been a content marketer for over a decade. I’ve got an instinctual ability to pick good articles to write just by looking at Google Search suggestions.
Yet, when I started doing Youtube, I found that my previous experience creating written content for Google search biased my decision-making. My gut was telling me that a certain video was right to make. But these gut instinct driven decisions were based on article Content marketing knowledge, not Youtube knowledge. In reality, I actually had no idea whether a video idea was good or bad.
And so early on, many Youtube videos that I made failed even though the equivalent article succeeded. And it was all because I listened to my gut instinct.
So, our thoughts are biased, we think emotionally, and we often don’t have the experience to rely on our gut instinct? What is the alternative?
What’s the alternative? Data-Driven Decisions
The best way for us to make decisions is to not make the decision at all.
Instead, we should focus on gathering data and letting that data drive our decision-making.
But what does this mean?
Basically, it means that instead of relying on emotions or our gut instinct to make decisions, we rely on empirical quantifiable evidence to make the decision for us. That way, our emotions, biases, and lack of experience are removed from the decision-making process.
If the facts say we should take action, we take action, regardless of feelings.
You should gather as much data as you possibly can to prove or disprove your hypothesis: the question you are asking.
For example, you may ask, “Would people like a video showing them how to set up Dolby Atmos with the PS5?”
In the past, your gut instinct may have said, “Nah, hardly anybody has Dolby Atmos. Nobody wants a video like that.”
But now you know, your gut instinct can be massively wrong, you know you need to look for data, evidence, to prove or disprove your hypothesis.
So you type in “PS5 Dolby Atmos” into Youtube to look if people are searching for it.
You check to see if other channels are making videos about the PS5 and setting up Dolby Atoms.
You check to see how many views these videos are getting.
You check Google Trends to see if there is trending data for the phrase PS5 Dolby Atmos.
You check, Google Keyword Planner to see if there’s any volume for keywords surrounding PS5 Dolby Atmos on Google.
And after doing all that, after gathering lots of data and evidence, you let the data drive your decision: Does the data suggest that making this video is the right thing to do? Yes or no.
As you can imagine, there’s a lot more to data-driven decision-making than I can cover in this one article. So in the next article, I’ll be exploring data-driven decision-making in more detail by running you through my data-driven decision-making process for picking articles to write.
I hope this article has helped open your eyes to the shortcomings of relying on your gut instinct, and the importance of having an evidence-based data-driven decision-making methodology for your gaming business.
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Thanks again and I wish you all the luck in the world with your game business.