Trust What You Already Know

(image via Austin Neill)

(image via Austin Neill)

Years ago I had the adventure of a lifetime. I flew in a hot air balloon over the Irish countryside. It was a cool, misty morning as my pilot took me over endless farms and rolling green hills. We had been in the balloon about an hour, when my pilot said something you never want to hear while flying. “I think we’re lost”, he muttered somewhat embarrassed.


“No problem. We’ll just float down over that field, find ourselves a local and ask for a reference point.”

Slowly our balloon hovered down over a somewhat unimpressed farmer who was kicking rocks around on his property. “Excuse me”, my pilot shouted. “Can you tell me where we are?”

“What?” yelled back the old farmer.

“I said, can you tell me where we are?”

The farmer paused for a second, gave the question some serious consideration, and then indignantly exclaimed, “You can’t fool me. You’re up there in that little basket!”

Years later I still laugh over this blinding flash of the obvious (BFO).

In my work with individuals and organizations there is often a lot of planning and discussion around change. I often hear, “I am quite confused and don’t know what to do.” And while personal change or crisis creates confusion and difficulty, it is also true that slowing down our thinking helps reduce the volume of fear, allowing much needed clarity. You will have your own BFO moment.

The next time you are trying to decide a difficult question or make a challenging choice, spend a few minutes considering all that you gain from each choice. Then trust your instincts to guide you into action. Usually we know the answer, but are fearful of the consequences or the implications of action. This is not a time for “yes-butting”, but a time for honest and courageous self-exploration. A simple way to do this is to frame your decision as a “yes-no” choice and then flip a coin. The purpose of flipping a coin is not to make the decision, but once you see the result check in with how you feel about the result. This will immediately inform what you know to be already true.

Remember, courage is the ability to face your fear and still act on what you know is right. Ultimately it is the only path to sustained happiness.