A Valuable Ally: Intuition

“Not choice, but habit rules the unreflecting herd.” ~ William Wordsworth

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.

38 thoughts on “A Valuable Ally: Intuition

    • Perhaps by you, I, and many others, yes. Yet in the world of high-stakes finance, business models, algorithms, and bottom-lines, it is largely, if not exclusively done via data, analysis and hard facts. This, in part, why I chose to exit that domain. 🙂 I appreciate your stopping by and commenting.

  1. Developing intuition…I like this concept very much. Over the past 20 years, I have often turned to physical activities when stress would build up (with school or business), and this release often relaxed my mind as well as my body. In this relaxed state, my intuition was free to be discovered by my conscious mind and I did “the right thing.” Relaxation, stress relief and/or physical activities has become a habit in my life and is my #1 way to develop intuition (rather, allow my mind a clearer path to the answers intuition can bring). Enjoyed this post. Cheers!

    • Wow, how wonderfully experienced and shared. Thank you, Randall. I sense from the photography in your posts just how relaxing your outdoor time becomes. To the extent this and other factors contribute to (dare I say) your enviable habit, then good on you. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and have ways to enable clarity and develop intuition. You’re in good company. 🙂

  2. I know that rationality and intuition can work independently and that there are even dispositions that prefer the one over the other, but I must say that so often the the most holistic way is when they work together. I think of a scientist like Einstein whose rational and analytical abilities were immense, yet he was also profoundly intuitive. There’s a lot of empirical thinking that has had intuitive seeds motivating it. I wonder, Eric, to what extent a preference of the one over the other is always in danger of expressing an unnecessary dualism.

    • Measurably, I concur with you, Don. I, too, believe the most common impacts and benefits can be derived when the two are valued in tandem. Yet I can think of personal experiences/situations in which a reliance on intuition has served me better than the alternatives of data, facts, and/or analysis. In those cases, it was my clear preference for and leaning on intuition. It seems to me that, at times, dividing the two or giving greater weight to one over the other is appropriate and not particularly dangerous. I also acknowledge being highly intuitive and thus, possibly biased. Thanks for prompting additional thought.

      • I was giving more thought to it after my comment and I must say that I agree with you Eric. Thank you for your response. appreciate it.

  3. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
    “Don’t be trapped by dogma ~ which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~ Steve Jobs

  4. I must share this with you Eric.
    For months before we made the trip to Indiana, I had very bad feelings. I paid them little mind and kept thinking that I was being silly.
    I brushed these very negative thoughts aside.
    As you know, within 13 minutes of arriving at our quite upscale Hotel, we were brutally robbed in a smash and grab car burglary, that resulted in devastating personal losses.
    It was there, I ignored it.
    I will never do this again. Bitter lesson learned.

    • And most of know that our lessons learned are not always kind or enjoyable. I still feel for you and your loss, Donna. On the positive front, now you have evidence of your intuition and how it can serve you gong forward. I appreciate your share!

    • I am so sorry to hear your story. I remember reading a wonderful book by Gavin de Becker called ‘The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence.’ I wish you would have read it before this incident but I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn how to use their intuition to keep themselves safe from violence.

  5. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit | My Awakening Life

  6. You definitely share your clarity and compassion in this Blog. Extremely thought provoking. You gave me something to really think about today and dwell on. Thank you Eric.

    • You are welcome! It always encourages me to continue writing when fellow bloggers share that a post is of value to them. Excited to learn that you are thinking about your intuition today. And tomorrow? 🙂

  7. You may have figured, but I am a big advocate of intuition and finding and trusting your inner voice. I was talking about all this with a friend just today! Could not agree with you more. Great post as always, Eric!

    • I have sensed you being attuned to your inner voice, EJ. Keep monitoring it to see how strong it is and to determine the extent to which you can rely on it. It suits you well. Glad the post “spoke to you.” 🙂

  8. Intuition – our inner guidance system. When I trust my intuition, it always serves me or the situation I am in. When I have not trusted it in the past, I have occasionally been lucky with a particular outcome. More often than not, analyzing (or as the author Michael Brown calls it, anal-eyes-ing) landed me in the wrong place. When both are in play and working together – leaning, of course toward intuition – then we are likely to make the best decisions for ourselves and others. Great post…and powerful reminder of the power of inner guidance!

  9. Without doubt, you’re highly gifted in communicating your wisdom Being so centred (as you seem) must count towards trusting in your instinct to move forward with this new idea. I tend to think on the, “what’s for us won’t go by us” philosophy. But, under my current circumstances, that can also be a cop-out for me. .

    Reading your post, I realise just how much I am cutting off from intuition. I used to know intuitively if something was right or wrong. I’m not saying I necessarily followed that “inner-guidance”, but I usually had strong convictions. My life is not where it should be right now and there is a powerful gut feeling that life is passing me by. My intuition tells me to move, but the depression and apathy are weighing me down. I’ve never felt so out of touch with my intuitive abilities as I do now.

    Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about changing my (stinking) thinking and do believe that can come about by creating new habits, as you point out. I know ‘practice makes perfect’, but wish this were a little easier. For a chronic ruminator to change their thinking, well, this can be the biggest challenge of all.

    I feel encouraged by your last paragraph – even listening, thinking about new habits, contemplating change…. It all contributes towards getting in touch with our intuition/inner voice and moving forward with it.

    I’m trying so hard to live in the moment and listen to my inner voice. Posts like this help my journey immensely. Thank you, Eric

    • I could share much with you here. Instead, I’ll simply acknowledge your “thinking” admission. You sound as if you were once in touch with and appreciative of your intuitive abilities. If this is correct, then reclaim that gift and right! Keep trying, Cat. So many in this blogging community believe in you! I am warmed that this post encouraged and helps you. Thank you so much for sharing.

  10. How many times have I suppressed the eyebrows from going up, the doubt, the nagging soft voice in the back of the head. I’ve been two horrendous customers, Eric, who used our facility to build their customer base, promising us years and years of a robust account. We jump through hoops for them. Then, when their margins get squeezed, they overspend, they make some bad decisions, their customers pull out. And we get left with their fallen brands. What a shame. I should have listened to my gut when I first met them. You are right. I need to practice more, listen more.

    • I believe it is unfortunate yet invaluable that we have experiences such as yours (and many of us have) – if only to validate that we possess yet often disregard our intuition. It’s not unlike touching the hot burner once. I think we’ve all known people who make decisions largely, if not solely, based on facts and analytical reasoning. For me, it’s consistently – what is my gut telling me. Almost always, it’s been right. Onward, with awareness and more practice!

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