Once upon a time, there was a redheaded girl who decided to pack up her life, sell most of what she owned and load two dogs, two cats and an air mattress into a Honda Element and move her life from Las Vegas, Nevada to Denver, Colorado. She completed this entire process in under 40 days. Enamored with the thought of living between the mountains and rolling flats of the high desert and in a town where culture thrived (as Las Vegas is where both culture and Nick Cage go to die), her primary client was a real estate tech startup located a mere 5 miles from her new house. 60 to 70 hour weeks ensued and the redheaded girl threw herself into her new responsibilities. Days passed. Dogs were put into day care. Months flipped by like one of those animated picture books.
And nine months later, after two months of not getting paid (and still showing up for work for some reason), she found herself sitting on her sofa on September 2, 2009 wondering what she would do as said real estate tech startup was out of cash, owed her money and didn’t know when it would be flush again. She called her landlord and begged for leniency (and may all the wood sprites bless her mercy) and wondered what dishes she could create from rice, butter and tuna fish and set about the chore of listening to her gut.
First, it began with an apology:
Hey…yeah – I’m sorry. We haven’t talked in awhile. I’m an ass. And I know that on the surface, this might seem like some bullshit beat-your-girlfriend-and-bring-her-flowers type ass-kissing move…and you’d be right to think that. But I want you to know that I’m ready to listen. I know I’ve tuned you out for ages and you didn’t deserve that, so if you’ll give me a chance, maybe you can teach me to become a better listener. And I’ll bake for you. Little frosted cookies with sprinkles on them – just the way you like. And I’ll stop eating at Taco Bell because I know you hate that shit. So whaddaya say?
More than anything, it was probably the no-Taco-Bell promise my gut found the most appealing. But it indulged me and offered me the second chance I so very much wanted. And there on September 2, 2009, RedheadWriting officially became an LLC in the State of Colorado and I set out on what I hope is a never-ending process of listening to my gut.
22 months later (give or take a month because I’m shitty at math. On a related note, I once told Lisa Barone that Excel is math-flavored hell…), RedheadWriting is now RHW Media with multiple team members, retainers exceeding six figures annually and I’ve earned the opportunity for my first magazine column and have two book deals. Goddammit, if one’s gut isn’t an awesome thing. And I mean that in the literal sense: it fills me with awe the wisdom held by my gut and the unselfish manner in which it chooses to continue to share its knowledge with me on a minute by minute basis.
Let me ask you this: when is the last time you’ve found yourself in a situation where you’ve had no hesitation whatsoever? I’m not talking about the decision to turn left on a green arrow or some lamesauce like that. I’m talking about acknowledging that you were in a situation that had the built-in potential to ‘splode like a gerbil in a microwave but you were going ahead with it, all engines go and fuck it all because it JUST. FELT. GREAT. Yeah – when’s the last time you did that? For me, it was two weeks ago when something unexpected walked into my life and…well, the volume on my gut got turned up to eleven. I’d forgotten what it felt like to hear my gut in such a clear tone. If you want to talk about it in audio vernacular, hesitation is your gut offering feedback – you’re too close to the mic and please step away. But when you hear your gut in BOSE-quality sound humming along with your heart, maybe you’ve gone and done something right. Maybe you’ve learned something along the way.
Maybe you’ve learned to become a better listener.
That damn gut, I tell you. It’s got a wealth to share with you if you’d just fucking listen every now and then. Think of how often you keep yourself up at night, stringing yourself up in your thoughts like one of those arial scarf dancers from Cirque du Soleil on meth. We’d all get a lot more sleep if we did the easy thing: turned down the volume on our mouths and turned up the volume on our guts. In fact, something I’ve realized is that listening to your gut requires a shitload less effort than thinking. It does the thinking for you. It goes like this:
Gut: OMFGWTFBBQ – I like this more than Rush Limbaugh likes oxycontin.
You: Okay – THIS IS A GOOD THING.
*not like this*
Gut: OMFGWTFBBQ – I like this more than Rush Limbaugh likes oxycontin.
You: Really? I dunno. I’m not really sure.
Gut: Jesus of all that’s holy – DO IT.
You: I cannnnnnnnn’t. I’m not ready.
Gut: You’re ready. You’re ready like a baby’s head crowning out of a woman’s vajayjay after nine months of pregnancy and 14 hours of contractions.
You: Ummm…okay, thanks for the visual.
Gut: Whatever. I want this. Please go get it for me.
You: Yeah, well, I can’t right now. You’re just going to have to wait.
Gut: OH MY GOD – YOU ARE SUCH A PRICKASAURUS REX!
You: Shut up.
Gut: If you’re not nicer to me, I will do just that. (asshole)
See how much easier listening to your gut is? I don’t know about you, but when I don’t listen, those useless conversations go on for a lot longer than that and usually drive me to a next day where I’m wandering around like a half-eaten human post-zombie apocalypse.
Our guts know two things: danger and love. There’s no in between. Those are two absolutes. We’re experts at creating iffy-flavored BS-shades of grey and yeah, I’ll concede: there are the “okay for nows” in life. But there comes a time where what we love about those in the meantime moments turns to danger. I don’t know about you, but I’ve realized that life is entirely too short to waste my time (or anyone else’s for that matter) lingering in the meantime. I like my nows and my gut shows me where they are.
So today, as you step out into the sunlight, clouds or rain, think about your gut and what it’s telling you is now. I’m great at cracking jokes to avoid having to say something of worth that shows how I really feel, but something that my gut’s told me recently is maybe there need to be fewer jokes and more sentiment. Because when you do what your gut tells you to do, nothing’s more clear than the face of the person standing in front of you smiling back.
That smile is addictive. And your gut – if you let it – will tell you how to keep the smiles coming.
I didn't expect your gut busting would be about flying from the seat of your intuition, but I like the boldness and soul-ness of it.
When you said, "That smile is addictive." it made me think of this quote I've been highly conscious of ever since I've heard it... "The meaning of communication is the response that you get." I heard that from the guys who created Neuro Linguistic Programming. There's a seminar I revisit from time to time of Robert Dilts', one of the men who apprenticed with these creators, called "Conversational Magic". In this course he talks about not being able to come to certain conclusions if you're only asking your head. And what really fried my mind was when he talked about there actually being a nervous system in your gut - Enteric Nervous System" and how science has proven that you have a brain in your belly. Now if only I'd tune into it more instead of stuffing it's mouth with 99 cent value menu items from Wendys, I might be able to upgrade to that new berry salad they've got or a spicy chicken sandwich combo. :)
My favorite: "-life is entirely too short to waste my time (or anyone else’s for that matter) lingering in the meantime." I'll think of this next time I start being the Master Procrastinator. Or maybe I should just tattoo it on my forehead.
Damn did "that damn redhead" need to read "that damn gut" right about now. Been having arguments with mine like the latter too long, especially lately. Gut's been louder and I've been tuning in a bit more, but yep, you're right. Just gotta STFU & do it. Thanks again for being the most inspirational and kickass fellow redhead I read. :)
Hesitation = your gut giving you "audio feedback. Please step away from the mic." I'm passing this gem along to my therapist.
Hesitation = your gut giving you "audtio feedback. Please step away from the mic." I'm passing this gem along to my therapist.
I couldn't do what I do if I didn't listen to my gut. Every single interaction I have with a client is driven by it. No questioning why I get a specific visual when they're sharing something with me. No wondering if I should speak the seemingly unrelated thought that comes to me during a session. No asking myself afterwards if it was a bad idea to refer them to someone else who is a better fit for them than I am. I say what my gut tells me to say. They decide if/how it fits. To date, it's always been right. *I* haven't been right. My gut has. Same is true personally. If someone gives me a bad vibe, I trust it. My gut is why I quit my job. My gut is why I studied with Barbara Sher in 2010. My gut is why I started Get Your Life In Gear in July. My gut is why I've done everything since then. It's a hell of a lot smarter than I am. Thanks for the reminder, Red.
Back in 2009 my wife and 2 children had been living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada for almost 5 years. We were a good 6 hour drive from my family in Toronto and a good 7.5 hour drive from my wife's family in Woodstock, Ontario (about 30 minutes from Waterloo, Ontario - where my wife and I first met). On March 13, 2009 (my 35th birthday), while my wife and daughter were in the Dominican for a girls getaway, my father-in-law called to tell me that my wife's brother had died. Tragically, accidentally, and well before anyone should have to leave, he was gone. On June 24, 2009 I received a phone call from a headhunter about a job back in Waterloo, Ontario. Interview to happen on July 2nd. Well I was going to be at the beach with my family and my wife's parents on July 1st for Canada Day, and the cottage was only a couple hours from the interview, so I decided to check it out. There was much discussion between my wife and I over the complication and risks associated with moving our quite comfortable Ottawa life back to Southern Ontario, but in the end it was my GUT that told me what to do. On that Canada Day, after all the festivities had wound down, my wife's father took me aside and wished me good luck on my job interview. At that moment I promised him that I would get the job and bring his daughter back home. I guaranteed it. After two hours of driving with no air conditioning in a suit in July, three and a half hours of interviews with 2 Managers, 2 Team Leads, and 1 Human Resources person, and another 2 hour drive back to the cottage, I was on the beach sipping a nice Shiraz. On July 13, 2009 - exactly 4 months after my bother-in-law died - I received a letter of offer for the job back in Waterloo. Exactly two months after that, on my wife's birthday - August 13, 3009 - the Government of Canada created a new division (the Office of Federal Economic Development - "FedDev") and based it in Kitchener, Ontario, a mere 15 minutes from my office in Waterloo. On August 24th, 2009 - exactly 8 weeks after that first phone call - I was moved into a house just outside of Kitchener-Waterloo (Cambridge, Ontario) and working my first day at my new job. In September, my wife interviewed for, and got a job working at FedDev in Kitchener. We've been here for almost 2 years, we're both still at our jobs and loving it, and my wife and I and our two children get to see my wife's family practically any time we want - and everyone is smiling. Trust your gut. It KNOWS.
Erika, thank you for the beautiful reminder to tune in. Last night, I dreamt 2 dreams of being trapped, and in both instances, I realized that I could actually escape the trap whenever I wanted to. (One was a kidnapping in which I realized that I could outrun my kidnappers, and the other was a hostage situation, in which I realized that the walls surrounding us weren't real.) It seems like my subconscious + your piece are teaming up to tell me: you're not trapped. You have the freedom to move toward what you want. So, once again, thank you! :) PS ~ I especially love the line, "Life is entirely too short to waste my time (or anyone else’s for that matter) lingering in the meantime."
Bravo! Great article and I like your take. Going with your Gut is the best option, always. Your Gut gives you guidance in every moment then your Ego kicks and and starts talking you out of what your Gut said to do or not to do. And forget about following your heart, who would want to follow an emotional roller coaster when making decisions in life? If you're confused or in a zombie state that's a good thing! It means you know what to do you just don't like your options and you're stalling hoping circumstances will change. Mary Goulet
Listened perfectly Sept 2003, grabbed her hand, tight. fast forward. Dec 1, 2010 almost got it, but ---> didn't fuck'n listen. slow agonizing death until Jan 2011,,, Yes, finally, it's time for Cake. Related in UK Press Release today, Pottermore = self published eBooks by JK Rowling -> RHW Media,,, listen carefully enough and you'll be next. A true Golden Age; have any synonym of "Writing" in what one loves doing. You are a treasure Erika, and I pray to God he knows about Cake too. -Steve
Love love love this! First congrats on all that has happened, you've done an amazing job of creating an awesome company. Second (me time) I really love reading articles like this one, because my gut kicks me in the ass (quite an accomplishment by the way) and says "See, she gets me, listen to the Red Head". Now I need to go get out of my own "half-eaten human post-zombie apocalypse" mood because I fear that "okay for now" is quickly changing into "too comfortable to change."
G'Day Erika, Once again I'll favour the prosaic over the profound. When I first found your blog, I couldn't find how to subscribe to it. But I perservered because my gut told me to. Smart gut! And it's fun too. That's really important. Regards Leon
Love that your gut uses cuss words. Mine is 'lovely'... most of the time. Excellent post, full of snark and wisdom, as always. :)
Wow, this is the 2nd blog post I've read today that is telling me to listen to my gut. Apparently my gut doesn't speak like yours (Ha!), mines goes the "thump upside the head" route. I've been rather dense (uh, not listening) lately. There's a good lesson here and I really hate the "I told you so" message my gut is now screaming. Great post, my gut thanks you.
Great quote. i am reading an awesome book that goes into this deeply and what I beleive in. "The Happiness Advantage" by Shawn Achor. Thanks. Al
Wow ! U r 1 crazy ass Beeyatch ! I luv reading your stuff. Funny and True, that is talent my friend. Luv it. Continued success.
Damn you can write, that's all I have to say. Oh and of course this post really spoke to my gut. And now it's poking me saying, "See, I told you bitch."
Hah! You make me laugh, always. I think I have had pretty much that same conversation with my gut, at least the second one. Verbatim if I'm not mistaken.
This is SO GOOD. I was at an event in NYC last November and my gut piped up to tell me not to go back to grad school-so I didn't, literally, didn't even finish the semester. It also told me it was time for my bf to go when he told me I was stupid for quitting school. It also told me get the hell back to NYC. I also met a guy 6 weeks before I was moving but my gut said go on the date anyway-he's currently THE LOVE of my life. Things are going so well it feels inappropriate. I fucking love my gut and I'll never ignore her again. I can't wait for your books! xo
OMFGWTFBBQ. . . I love you and the bike you rode in on! In other words, the body doesn't lie, especially the gut and it constantly amazes me how we ignore it! I know I have many times in the past (you'd think I'd learn faster being a coach and all, but that sounds like an upcoming blog post!) but I'm getting much more aware when the volume goes up. Congrats on the recent successes. I can't think of any writer I follow that I'd be more happy for!