Over the course of my life I've learned how detrimental it can be for me not to follow my instinct - both personally and professionally. EVERY time I've gone against my instinct, I've paid dearly. I can't think of a single exception to this.
For a long, long time—years, in fact—I was so out of touch with my gut feelings, I was like a sheet in the wind, blowing whichever way the wind blew. School—composing, really—has been one long (and expensive) exercise in learning to follow my instincts again. I've not yet found the right gris-gris with my composing, but I am getting better about pinpointing what my gut feelings are. Progress, then. The same is true with writing. I'm getting better about honing that instinct, knowing what's wrong with a story before I send it out for critique. It seemed for a while there I was totally dependent on others' opinions. But now I'm beginning to see my opinions reflected in critiques on the stories I send out to beta readers.
I hope I'm wise enough to know there will be situations where my instincts will be challenged, that there will be moments where I'm unsure—and most of all, that I'm not always right. But maybe a person's instinct is like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. I think it is. I hope so, anyway.