There are lots of things that I wished I’d known and in lots of circumstances and as the old (and well-used) adage goes, ‘hindsight is a wonderful thing’. But are we always better off being told things rather than discovering them for ourselves?
It’s a tricky one to answer because – and very basically – if we are told something, then how do we un-know it? Whether we discover later that it’s true, false or midway between the two, it takes some time to discover our personal truth. Our own perspective on a situation, on a place or on people.
For instance, I’ve taken rather too long to learn that my intuition is worth paying attention to.
Some years ago I worked for a friend who ran a contract interior design business. I’d already worked for Heather as a waitress and shopgirl, and subsequently set up an information resource to help her and her designers in their work. Heather was (still is!!) a massively enthusiastic and energetic women with clear insight and vision. She could instil passion in her staff and we were a great team.
Heather came into the office one day very excited. She had found someone that she wanted to make her office manager – a post that she hadn’t realised she needed until she met this woman. Anyway – and to cut a very long story short – she hired the Ms X and she joined the business soon after. I was excited to meet her anticipating another energetic member of the team. But I was disappointed.
On meeting Ms X I took an instant dislike and couldn’t work out why! Over the next few months I worked hard at seeing the positive, convinced that because Heather thought she was ok, then she must be ‘OK’! I tried to see the positive when my immediate reaction was directly opposite. I really tried hard to like her – or at least tolerate her – and started to compensate for Heather’s sake. I wanted to like her.
Time moves on and gradually Ms X showed her true colours. She was house hunting heavily on works time. She was having long phone calls with friends, on works time. Simply put ‘when the cat was away the mice will play’ ie. when Heather was away Miss X would play. When Heather was around Miss X was a paragon of dedication and effectiveness. Gradually, over time, Miss X let things slip and Heather began to discover the truth. It was hard to watch the disillusion spread, and for Heather to realise the truth about Miss X. Eventually her employment was terminated. I felt vindicated in my gut reaction, but awfully sad about the journey to realisation.
and moving forward a few years…
I was attending my first Women in Management meeting at the Lord Leycester Hospital in Warwick and the focus was networking. There I was negotiating the ups and downs of an unknown venue, unknown group of people and learning the ‘rules of networking’, and I spot someone I know that I know! I pondered for a while and it wasn’t until we were sat listening to a speaker (after the challenge of standing up chatting while juggling wine and food) and it hit me. Sat opposite me was Miss X. I knew her, and it wasn’t the persona that she was projecting at this meeting. When I introduced myself and she realised what our connection was, I saw her baulk, and a fear in her eyes. I would never have said anything, but I realised that she was frightened. I could have said a handful of words and destroyed the person she had created.
Lesson learned from this experience? Trust my judgement. My initial and gut reaction is frequently the right one. When I go against it, it can cause me grief. Learning to accept that I need to pay attention to my inner voice, and to be comfortable with it has been a valuable lesson. It’s not infallible of course! Sometimes I readjust my view but invariable it’s tweaking in the same direction ie. either positive or negative.
After all, it’s my intuition, and has been honed and perfected over many years. My intuition has learned from my interactions: from my experiences; from the people I have met and the places that I have been. It is after all MY intuition and it’s my life I am living using all of this intuitive knowledge.
Do you have any stories about trusting your intuition that you can share?