A 9/11 Story About the Power of Trusting Your Gut...Especially When you Have ADHD!
While Jose Melendez-Perez was working as an immigration inspector at the Orlando International Airport, he encountered a man who “gave him the chills.”
Although the man was well-dressed, with his passport and visa appearing to be in order, Melendez-Perez had a strong gut feeling about Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi national. Something was just not right.
It is now believed that al-Qahtani was supposed to be one of the hijackers on United Airlines Flight 93 headed to the U.S. Capitol on September 11, 2001.
Had Melendez-Perez not moved forward to investigate based on that gut instinct, there would have been a far greater loss of life on that fateful day. The airport inspector is credited with denying entry to the 20th hijacker of 9/11 attacks.
As we mark the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, the greatest loss of life on American soil since Pearl Harbor, lets remember the power of trusting your gut.
How We Make Decisions
There are more than three decades of research that point to the fact that decisions are made not only with the head but also with the heart and gut. All three of these areas—cognition, emotion, and intuition—are said to contribute to a good decision. The head analyzes information and applies logic. The heart senses the world through emotions and feelings. Gut intuition is said to be encoded in the brain, “like a web of fact and feeling.”
The head, heart and gut are all classified as functional brains, and science now shows that there are complex neural networks in all three. It is known in neuroscience as multiple brain integration. We want to make decisions with the wisdom of the head, heart, and gut.
Decision-making has been traditionally viewed as a rational process, where reason dictates the best way to achieve goals. Investigations from different areas of cognitive science have shown that more human decisions and actions are influenced by emotional response and intuition than previously thought. Now, there’s a vast body of research into the nature of decision-making that looks at all three of these domains.
Why Decision-Making is Hard for People with ADHD
People with ADHD have a very hard time making decisions, due to the cognitive factors involved as well as the ability to trust themselves. We might make a decision reactively due to impulsivity and hyperactivity, certainly traits of ADHD. Short-term memory issues play a role, as well our lack of personal boundaries. We tend to over promise and under deliver.
When making a decision, it can be important to check in with the three brains: our head, our emotions, and our gut. Have you ever tried to talk yourself into something that sounds good, yet your stomach hurts the more you think it over? We may justify a choice based on some area we are passionate about, yet the facts supporting the decision are lacking.
Ask These Three Questions First
1. What are the reasons for and against this decision? (Head)
2. Is this decision something I can be enthusiastic about? (Heart)
3. How does this decision feel in my body? (Gut)
Use your head, listen to your heart, and trust your gut to make a better decision!
Last weekend, we honored those whose lives were taken on 9/11, as well as those whose lives were given in sacrifice for the greater good. Just like the Orlando immigration official did, I encourage you to trust your gut. It may save your life or the life of someone else.
Verbally processing a decision with a supportive person can make a huge difference! For support in decision-making and problem-solving, talk to a coach.
1 - Head, Heart, and Gut: How to Use the 3 Brains, goodnet.org. https://www.goodnet.org/articles/head-heart-gut-how-to-use-3-brains
2 - (Head, Heart and Gut in Decision Making: Development of a Multiple Brain Preference Questionnaire, journals.sagepub.com