The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. - Albert Einstein
"Trust your intuition." These three little words have captivated me for as long as I can recall. I can't remember the exact time I heard this phrase but it surely has stuck around over the years. What began as an initial interest and curiosity has blossomed into a professional passion and skill I am always looking to hone as a coach.
The funny thing about intuition is that many people associate it with their "gut" but since your gut is an actual organ in your body (and not a flattering at one that) - I would like to believe that your intuitive skills resonate more from your brain region, so for the sake of this article let's agree that it can also be classified as a "hunch" or even an "ah-ha" feeling.
Whether you realize it or not, intuition helps shape the decisions you make every day, in every area of your life — including on the job. Some people argue that relying on hunches or gut feelings in the workplace is irrational and a potential derailer because after all, in a world of hard deadlines, high stress and bottom lines, something as abstract as intuition may feel like a risk. That said, you might be surprised to learn how important intuition really is. According to an OfficeTeam / IAAP survey, 3500+ professionals were asked "How often they make decisions based on their gut instinct" and the results were pretty clear:
- 56% Somewhat Often
- 32% Very Often
- 12% Not Very Often
- Summary: What these workers recognized is that good judgment sometimes comes down to following your instincts, especially when they are backed by wisdom and experience.
No matter where your interest lies within this topic there is one thing that is irrefutable: honing and trusting your intuitive abilities is a valuable skill set many of the most successful people in the world have attributed to their success, such as Oprah, Richard Branson and Warren Buffet.Leaders look to actively engage their intuition to better themselves and those around them. The good news is that you don't have to own a tv network, a media empire or be a billionaire to enjoy the benefits of developing and trusting your own intuition.
Let's begin with understanding exactly what this "hunch" or gut feeling really is.According to the Webster Dictionary, it's something like this:
noun /in·tu·i·tion :
a natural ability or power that makes it possible to know something without any proof or evidence : a feeling that guides a person to act a certain way without fully understanding why
The key benefits of cultivating your intuition are as follows:
- Helps you reduce stress by identifying and dealing with problems
- Unleashes your creativity and imagination
- Puts you in touch with your subconscious, and therefore helps you uncover hidden truths about yourself and situations in your life
- Can prevent the buildup of negative emotions and thinking
- Integrates left and right brain functions giving you a more complete perspective on issues
- Helps you make better, more integrative decisions
- Improves physical, mental and emotional health
The great thinker Carl Jung emphasized the importance of honing your intuition and the impact it directly had on his life. He believed that intuition was one of four major functions of the human mind along with sensation, thinking, and feeling. By balancing all of these functions within ourselves, we have the ability to maximize our potential.
Here are 10 ways people have described how to best help you trust your instincts and build your intuitive skills:
- Follow Your Passion.
When you can’t get an idea out of your head, your gut is telling you it has merit. That instinct fuels your drive and work ethic. Instinct is really just passion disguised as an idea. When you act on ideas you truly care about, you are more likely to be right and more likely to work hard enough to succeed.
- Strive For 100% Commitment.
Every good instinct has to be supported by a lot of dedicated work. To give this kind of commitment, live in the moment and focus on doing the best you can today. Acknowledge any fear or doubt that shows up as this is simply part of your brains hardwiring protecting you from the unknown and re-presence yourself and get back to work.
- Fully Immerse Yourself.
Dedication is key but fully understanding all aspects, angles and avenues for what you are working on is just as critical. We aren't born with business instincts -- we learn them over time. When you become immersed in a subject or group, your mind draws on all of that knowledge with very little effort. Your instincts become informed choices made in the blink of an eye.
- Embrace Failure.
One could argue that many of the rules you abide by today were made by someone else who had an instinct five years or fifty years before you. The leaders who trust their instincts will be the ones who set the new rules -- the ones who anticipate and solve tomorrow's problems today.
When setting out to blaze a trail (no matter what that looks like) failure is always a stark possibility. If you do stumble, use it as an opportunity to hone your instincts by noticing what mistakes you made that ultimately killed that idea, project or goal.
- Listen To The Physical Signs.
Do you have butterflies in your stomach? Goose bumps? Did you experience physiological responses, like queasiness, shortness of breath, sneezing or a headache? This is simply your bodies powerful intuitive communicator. There’s a reason it’s called a “gut feeling”. If you experience nagging thoughts and feelings of suspicion, anxiety, doubt, curiosity or wonder for a particular situation, it’s up to you to follow them and see where they’ll lead. Listening to your body’s subtle signals is a critical part of exercising your intuitive sense.
Sure, I have talked extensively about being mindful, mindfulness and meditation so it should be no surprise I am about to discuss this topic one more time. Detaching and detoxing from your busy life that's intertwined with your cell phone, computer, tablet and now watches are critical to gaining presence and recalibrating your body and mind. So, close the door, shut off all electronic devices that will distract you and take a few deep, slow breaths to relax your body. The first reason why most of us can’t hear our intuition, is because our mind is going non-stop 24/7 with a variety of internal banter that has no off switch. Clearing your mind of repetitive thoughts and worries is one of the best ways to listen to your inner voice.
- Listen To Your Vibration.
I spend a great deal talking about human energy with my clients and how we all give off a certain vibrational energy. Sometimes it's positive and other times it's quite negative and wards others and opportunities away like the smell of rotten fish. Eckhart Tolle talks extensively about this topic in many of his books and teachings. Remember, that every single thought and word that comes into your head and out of your mouth has an impact on the world around and within you. Every thought or feeling has a vibration that can be measured. By learning to raise these vibrations you will be able to connect with your inner-self.
- Pause And Take A Break.
The goal here is to take a moment to quiet your mind and bring yourself into the present moment. Sitting at your desk or in front of your computer trying to hammer out a solution to a project won’t allow your intuition to turn on, while stepping away from your computer, desk or getting out of the office and doing something that has nothing to do with work can help you tune in to your powers of intuition. Steve Jobs was known to take long walks when stuck on a problem to experience a moment of real clarity. That clarity is like a fresh breath of pure inspiration. So, no matter what you are doing, take a break and consider taking nice long walk (somewhere) but make sure you come back to your desk, project and job.
- Pay Attention To Your Dreams.
Intuition is the language of dreams. Research shows that during dream-time the brain does creative problem-solving, which can help you make the right choice in your waking life. Before you go to sleep each night, reflect upon questions and issues for which you couldn’t find solutions during the day, such as “How can I fix that problem?”. Think about and explore different possibilities. This will trigger your imagination and put your subconscious to work at designing creative solutions while you sleep. If you’re attuned to your dreams, you can get a lot of information about how to live your life. The next morning, immediately write down any dreams or great ideas you remember before getting out of bed. Then see if and how the dream answered your question.
- Keep A Journal.
Meditation, dreams and long walks can bring up lots of insights, so it’s a good idea to track every thoughts or “feeling” you experienced. Make sure you write down any questions or concerns. Allow this to be more of a free flow type of activity. The next time you're having difficulty making a decision, pick up a pen and some paper and let the words flow out of you. Reflect on the situation, explore those feelings, and consider the bigger picture. By regularly recording your thoughts, it can be a wonderful catalyst for removing blocks and letting your intuitive voice lead the way.
Now, you may think that you don’t have the intuitive gift, but that’s simply not true. We’re all intuitively wired - all of us. It is our most natural biological function however some are more in touch with it than others. Each of us has our own “feeling” of what is worthwhile and right for our lives both personally and professionally. Your intuition is your inner guide and when tapped into, your ability to unleash your creativity, imagination, and decision making rapidly increases.
Developing your intuition is like learning any new skill. The more you practice, the better you get at it. So, be patient with yourself. Results take time. Like exercising any muscles, start off slowly and gradually build your “intuitive muscle.”
Trust me, you got this. Better yet, trust yourself. It starts now.
The floor is yours. When have you trusted your intuition and what happened?
Not-your-typical Personal and Executive Master Certified Coach.
Joshua Miller is a creative and impactful leader. His career experience has spanned both the advertising world and the world of leadership and organizational development. In advertising, he was responsible in delivering campaign strategies for Fortune 100 companies. Now he innovates and delivers results when supporting executive talent development and change management for the same clients.