Guest Blog Post: How Sharp Is Your Seventh Sense?

Below is a guest blog post from my friend, and entrepreneurial genius, Bill Bartmann. I hope you enjoy this post, please feel free to leave a comment or share it with a friend if you do.

How Sharp is Your Seventh Sense?

by Bill Bartmann

You know about your sixth sense, but your seventh is just as important.

Your sixth sense—intuition—is your gut feeling and it’s a useful tool for sizing up people and opportunities.

Haven’t heard of your seventh sense? It’s your ability to estimate. It’s different because estimation is more of a logical process. I first learned of its business value when I left home at age 14 to join the carnival. One of my early jobs was to run the “Guess Your Age and Weight” booth. I first tried to guess people’s age and weight until the booth owner slapped me upside the head: “Hey kid, quit being so accurate. I want them to win, okay? If they walk all over the midway with a giant stuffed bear and our banner, it’s free advertising for me. The less accurate you are, the more money we’ll make.”

That was a real eye-opener for me, because I began to understand the nuances behind estimating.

In my subsequent 40 years in business I’ve come to learn several more lessons about how to sharpen this sense.

1. Don’t overestimate your intelligence and underestimate the intelligence of others. As a cocky, freshly-minted millionaire in real estate I soon thought I saw a tremendous opportunity in the oil & gas business. I concluded that the locals were indeed yokels and that they were just too dumb to take advantage of the riches beneath their feet.

I cashed in my real estate chips and moved them all into oil & gas wells—and promptly lost my shirt. The lesson? Rather than let my tongue hang out over the prospect of riches, I should have reeled it back in and asked myself: “Could they know something I don’t? Why might others also see this opportunity but not jump at it?”

2. Step back for a clearer view. I later made a billion-dollar fortune from scratch by correctly estimating the wave of defaulted consumer and business debt to wash over our economy in the

1990s. It wasn’t due to my intuition but instead to stepping back, looking dispassionately at prices and volumes, and extending trend lines. My competitors could have done the same thing but my guess is they were way too buried in daily operations to see above the forest.

3. Create a feedback loop for your estimates. One of the keys to growing my multi-billion-dollar business was that I made an unbreakable rule: On every single defaulted loan we bought—and we bought millions of them—we always compared actual results to our original estimates. We then find-tuned our estimating engine for the next round of purchases. I know it’s more fun for entrepreneurs to look to the future, but it’s crucial that you continually sharpen your estimation tool against results and adjust accordingly.

4. Don’t underestimate other people’s fear. My company did the first-ever securitization of unsecured, delinquent credit card debt. We were the darlings of Wall Street, which invested several billion dollars in my firm. That was until an anonymous letter surfaced with allegations about my company. I incorrectly estimated that investors and the rating agencies would listen to reason and we could calmly analyze the facts. They listened politely—and then bolted for the door. Within literally days I had lost a personal fortune of more than a billion dollars. Had I properly estimated their level of fear, I would have gone into survival mode and not into talking/ reasoning mode.

5. Identify the other party’s dominant motive. When my company was in crisis I agreed to step aside temporarily, even though I had a controlling interest in the stock. I made this move because I incorrectly estimated that the new caretakers would care as much about the company as I did. Only after it was too late did I realize why they made several cataclysmic decisions—they were too new to the company to care about its long-term survival, and merely were executing a short-term salvage operation.

To make matters worse, I continued to apply wishful thinking to the equation by repeatedly estimating that if I just worked harder and smarter, I could bail out water faster than my business ship was taking it on. If I had accurately estimated that we were in fact swamped, my decisions would have been different.

Why do we sometimes see things more clearly in hindsight? Partly it’s because we can more easily identify the important factors that determined the outcome. It’s also partly because we’re more likely to see things as they actually turned out instead of how we hoped they would turn out.

The philosopher George Santayana said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In order to realize your brightest business future, you owe it to yourself to hone your seventh sense on the grinding wheel of past results, facts, and rational perspective.

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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.

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  • Archan Mehta

    Bill,

    Thanks for writing this post and to Brian for his decision to publish it.

    You wear your heart on your sleeve. What struck me about this article was your honesty. You are not afraid to share your faults and limitations.

    Yes, even a billionaire like you makes mistakes and cannot see the wood from the trees. This is indeed possible throughout one’s business career, and one mistake can lead to another and another and another.

    The danger, really, is that we may be reluctant to learn from our mistakes. In your case, you pursued a success story despite several lapses of judgment. Others may not be so lucky.

    This is the first time I am hearing about the seventh sense. I know the sixth sense was made into a movie starring the inimitable Mel Gibson.

    It is always instructive and interesting to learn about entrepreneurship from a true entrepreneur like yourself. Cheerio.

  • http://www.globalonlineshop.co.uk Dave

    First time I am hearing of the 7th Sense.

    Pyschlogically it appears to be a very powerful tool in personal development and an enablement to go behond what we can achieve with our physical senses.

    Amazing….

  • http://www.desiredoutcomes.info Gerry

    Tip five is great. You must understand the motives of the other people you are dealing with and tap into a solution that meets both party’s needs. It also is good practice to get into the habit of trying to analyze the other person’s needs as a way to build intuition. Thanks

  • http://www.fitswitch.net Luke Caine

    Great message Bill.
    It is true that the emotions cloud the thinking and estimating. Which is probably why people over estimate their own abilities and under estimate others, because they are that much more emotionally involved in what they are doing and not so much in others. There is a “miss-match” of level of feeling. Perhaps it’s what we are motivated to be that can sometimes blind us to what is reality.

  • http://lookingtobusiness.com Daniel M. Wood

    Being able to estimate outcomes, see the future, is incredibly important.

    Whatever you attempt it is your ability to see how your decisions today effect your life tomorrow.

    As Brian often discusses, having a long time perspective is a central part in your success.

    It is nothing we ever do perfectly, but the better our estimates become, the larger your chances of success.

  • http://frederickpearce.com/biggergame.html Frederick Pearce

    Super post, Bill. Thank you, Brian, for arranging the contribution. Very informative and right on the money! What you described, Bill, I always called my crystal ball. It didn’t always work accurately but getting close is better than missing the mark entirely! Good job, guys – and thanks again.
    –Frederick

  • http://twitter.com/RyanBiddulph Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Bil,

    I like your breakdown of the 7th Sense.

    We live too much in the outside world and too little in the inside world. When you hone your intuition it becomes easier to feel your way through situations. Instead of relying entirely upon your physical senses to assess a situation you can listen to the small, still voice that never leads you astray, although at times it might not seem that way.

    Thanks for sharing with us.

    RB

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