The most significant difference between a successful and a mediocre business is the leadership. What differentiates a great leader from the rest is their thought process. There are two different types of thought processes: The first is entirely based on cold hard data and facts. The second type is based on the gut feeling and instinctive decision of the leader.


Facts and cold hard data are available almost equally to everyone these days. Still, in spite of all the facts and data, many business leaders don’t make the right decisions at the right time. Therefore, the success of a business is not entirely dependent on the availability or lack of information and data.


If you ask a successful business leader about their secret, you may not find any specific pattern or guideline. In the end, almost all of them would say their success was the result of chance or that they made their decision based on their gut feeling.

What Is a Gut Feeling?

After thousands of years of evolution, our minds have developed to protect us from danger and guide us for survival. The process of evaluating situations, analyzing data and information, researching, and finally making a decision is a long process and isn’t practical for every basic survival choice.


When a wild animal attacked our ancestors, they had to react immediately or be devoured. Our minds in the process of evolution developed a system to save blueprints and a map of action for dangerous situations in order to survive. During confrontations with a threat, instead of thinking, evaluating, and analyzing data, the brain brings up one of the saved blueprints and acts on it with very little delay. This process is what we now call “gut instinct” or “gut feeling.” In other words, gut feelings are saved blueprints and mind maps that are continually kept in our subconscious mind, brought up by the brain, and matched to the situation.


When you have the feeling that something may be wrong, this is your mind trying to match one of the blueprints to the situation. The more it matches the situation with the blueprint, the faster and more precise decisions you make. The less it matches with the saved blueprints in your mind, the more hesitation you experience and the less chance you have of making an immediate decision.

How and When Does a Gut Feeling Occur?

From the moment we are born, our reactions to situations are saved in our subconscious mind. Every experience and its result save as a new blueprint in our minds. If an unfamiliar creature bites you when you touch it, you will be cautious for the rest of your life in touching that animal. Not even just that animal, but if you see another creature that is not exactly the same but similar, you will react immediately in the same way.


Blueprints in our minds are more the result of our previous experiences than our information. The more you experience something, the more blueprints you make and the more chances you have to make better decisions.


If you have expertise in your field, you are so familiar with situations that you have faced that you may know something is wrong or right without knowing why you know. Sometimes you have the feeling that something good or bad is going to happen, and then it does. This is the process of matching one of your mind’s blueprints to a situation.

The Difference between Experience and Information

Information and experience are saved in two different parts of the brain. Information is saved in the part of our brain that is responsible for memory, and experiences are saved in the subconscious part of our mind.


Retrieving information from our memory is an active process. You need to think and actively retrieve what is left in your memory. Our brain doesn’t spend lots of energy and power on the memory section of our mind, as memories are not necessarily bound to our survival.


Saving information in our memory is a passive action by our mind. We watch, read, listen, or hear something and try to maintain it in our mind. Experiences, on the other hand, don’t need any extra effort from the brain to be saved. The experiences attached to an emotion go to the parts of the brain that are easily accessible without any effort from the brain.


Most emotions are connected to our survival or one of the basic critical needs in our life. Love, for instance, means reproduction and safety, and hate means danger or something similar. The experiences attached to an emotion are sent to the subconscious mind to protect us from danger or help in our survival.


As a business person, you must practice as much as you can. Each new experience encompasses excitement and fear that form into your subconscious mind. The next time you are facing the same or a similar situation, your brain doesn’t need to evaluate everything again. It brings up the blueprint and mind map unconsciously, and you make a decision right away, as you already have everything saved in your mind as a blueprint or mind map—a gut feeling.

Why Don’t Education and Schooling Make You a Better Decision Maker?

Schooling in most cases is a passive accumulation of information in the mind. Very little of that information penetrates your subconscious mind and becomes part of your instinct and gut feelings. As an academically-educated person, you can make better information-based decisions but not necessarily faster instinct-based decisions. Information-based decisions are valuable depending on the information that you have handy before the action, while instinct and gut feeling decisions are those that you have already made before and are based on the result and outcome of the previous decision.


Schooling, reading books, listening to audiobooks, and inspirational presentations, if not accompanied by experience, won’t help much in the success of your life or your business.

Information-based Decision Versus Gut Feeling Decision

Probably the most significant difference between a great leader and others is information-based decisions and a gut-feeling, instinct-based decision. An information-based decision is when you gather all the information and make a decision based on the information you have, waiting to see the outcome and the result. A gut-feeling or instinct decision is when you make a decision and you have already seen the result. This is the type of decision that great leaders make. They gather the information, but in the end, they are the one who makes the decision, not the information alone. If information alone was the secret to the success of a business, there would be no differences between companies and wouldn’t be any need for a leader.

Why Are Most Great Leaders Not Good Teachers?

If you search online for the success secret of great leaders, you won’t find any specific secret that, by following it, is guaranteed to make you a great leader. When a great leader speaks, they inspire us not because of what he or she says but because of who he or she is. Many of the most successful people in the world point to chance, being in the right time and the right place, and some other generalized suggestions and advice that you have probably heard thousands of times.


The secret to the success of most people is, well, no secret. They cannot help you with any secret because they don’t know any. The secret is in their subconscious mind and the way they make decisions. At the moment they made a critical decision in their life, thousands of other people existed in precisely the same situation or in an even more ideal situation, but only a handful could make the hard decision. The “secret” to any success lies in the subconscious mind and gut feeling.


The times people were struggling with analyzing information and data and facing hesitation made them rely on their instincts and make hard decisions. No one is born with the gene of success in his or her chromosomes. Gut feelings and instinct are developed over time and through experiences.

How Can You Be Successful and Make Better Decisions?

Being successful and making a pivotal decision in the right moment is more dependent on instinct and gut feeling than having the right information. The best way to improve your gut feeling and instinct is to experience as much as you can. Go to work and try over and over. By trying and making mistakes and following through, your brain makes new blueprints that help you make more precise decisions.


Most successful people have had lots of trial and error, successes, and failures that made them great. You may find some successful people who climbed the ladder of success through books and university education, but even those people had the courage and stamina to put everything into experimentation and didn’t rely solely on cold hard data saved in their memory.


Being successful in life and business means making the right decision at the right moment. When you are making a decision based on data, you are acting against the unknown because you don’t have any idea what may happen. By making decisions based on instinct and gut feeling, you see the end result and outcome because you have had the same or similar experience in your life or profession in the past.