To many, the word “habit” carries a negative connotation. Rarely are habits talked about in the same context as creativity and innovation. Yet I consciously chose to step into a habit while flying home this past weekend. And that simple habit was/is to do nothing on the flight other than to listen; listen and reflect on what I had I heard during the previous four days. Call it my intentional reflecting time.
Brain researchers have discovered that when we consciously think about and develop new habits, we create parallel synaptic paths that can jump our trains of thought onto new, innovative tracks. As I was listening (a valuable habit), I also consciously thought about how I could effect change and create some new habits, based on inputs from my Mastermind gathering.
Then the inner voice, a valuable resource in so many decision-making processes, made itself heard. Also known as gut feeling or intuition, it’s often a better guide than you may think. Maybe you have experienced intuition – without even consciously thinking about something, a clear choice or solution suddenly comes to mind. Or perhaps you’ve had an impulse to do or not do something, accompanied by a lump in the throat or a peculiar feeling in your stomach. Conversely, you can feel enthusiastic about something, without really knowing why. These feelings are not merely coincidental, they reflect intuition.
And what did my inner voice whisper while airborne? It told me that I needed to refine my business vision, mission and purpose so that I can communicate them to others with even greater clarity. So I reflected on this for a while because I didn’t want to confuse my intuition with prejudices and emotions. Not every first or spontaneous impression ought to be interpreted as intuition and an element of conscious filtering is definitely needed to ensure we don’t let our emotions run away with us – under the guise of intuition.
If you are interested in exploring or further developing your intuition, here are three suggestions:
- An ability to use intuition can be learned or trained. Part of the trick is to become more conscious of your intuition and how it works. By monitoring your intuition over time – and, in particular, noting and analyzing when it paid off, it is possible to develop and use the process productively.
- Intuition can be encouraged by allowing your thoughts to roam without forcing thought patterns back into a traditional rut. In an attempt to be rational, people often “manually override” intuitive messages and it is only after things go wrong that they look back and realize they “had a feeling” that was not a good idea, but did not understand why.
- It is necessary to learn how to listen to one’s body. Muscular tension, sensations in the stomach, and a desire to move further away or closer to something or someone, can have real significance for some situations.
Rationality and facts are vital to business life and always will be. However, the guiding role of intuition ought not be underestimated. Even if you are simply listening, thinking about new habits, contemplating change, or making decisions, it is easier to innovate if you are willing to move through the unknown and go from curiosity to wonder. Part of this involves engaging your intuition.