Ask any successful business person what is the key to their success, and one theme will come up again and again. The same is true of most good parents. Going with your gut, instinct, inner voice, intuition… Call it what you will, it is one and the same thing – and, if mastered, can give you tremendous power in both your personal and professional life. The late Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric and Fortune’s ‘manager of the century’, was a strong believer in trusting one’s intuition – so much so that he chose to title his autobiography ‘Straight from the gut’. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin says “I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics,” whilst Steve Jobs famously stated intuition to be more powerful than intellect.
So just what is this thing called intuition, how can it help us to realise our ambitions and how do we develop it?
What is intuition?
Intuition is perhaps best described as a sensation that appears in our consciousness and can be acted on if we have a sufficient level of awareness but happens outside of our normal logical processing of information. Essentially, it bypasses reason and logic and as a result, forms a bridge between our conscious and unconscious selves.
Because we have been taught to follow the path of analytical reasoning and explanation through the main part of our lives, we are generally tuned to distrust and disregard this inner power and over time even train ourselves to suppress it. An inherent cultural prejudice against intuition in the western world has led to widespread scepticism of intuition, going so far as to compare it with ‘animal instinct’, supported by the argument that intellectual reasoning is a superior quality and therefore what makes us, as humans, a higher species.
How can intuition help me to succeed?
Tuning into your intuition does not mean that you have to reject reason and logic. In fact, these tools provide us with the means to choose any number of possible reactions to what we sense through our intuition and weigh up the best course of action to be applied in a given scenario. By allowing intuition to come into the equation as we go about our daily lives, we suddenly open ourselves to using a substantially greater amount of our brain’s resources. In fact, it is believed that whilst conscious thought uses approximately 20% of our brain capacity, unconscious thought accounts for the remaining 80%.
It therefore figures that by allowing yourself to harness the power of intuition, you can unleash your brain’s true power and apply it to whatever you happen to be doing, and most importantly, significantly enhance your decision making capability.
How can I develop my intuition?
Quite simply, the key to developing your intuition is to listen to and accept your inner voice, and develop the confidence to let its guidance drive your everyday life. So how does one go about learning to listen to this voice?
One effective way is note-taking or keeping a diary. If you are in a business meeting, looking for a solution to a problem or even trying to make a seemingly straightforward decision such as what present to buy somebody, record those inexplicable responses that occur, those which simply have no particular explanation. Do not try to interpret them – just allow them to surface.
Test your hunches
As you begin to become more attuned to your intuition and start to get hunches, start to test them. Try applying some of the thoughts that occurred in the previous exercise. If you get a hunch that something will happen, make a note and see if it follows through, no matter how random it may be. You may well be surprised at just how often you were right.
Another way to allow your inner voice to become louder is to mediate. Find a place that offers quiet and solitude, and use a meditation technique of your choosing to detach yourself from the conscious mind and explore the subconscious. If there is a particular question or problem that you have been pondering, then the intuitive answers will appear naturally. If you do not find that meditation works for you, creative pursuits and even exercise can also help to detach yourself from your conscious mind and allow your inner voice to surface.
Learn to listen
When we encounter other people, we tend to feel obliged to engage in conversation. We also feel a necessity to fill silence with our own words. In addition, when others speak we often listen for our own purposes, usually with the intention to reply – and as a result of this focus on ourselves, we completely block the ability to intuitively ‘sense’ other people. Learn to listen for the sake of listening, and at the same time tune into other forms of communication such as body language. You’ll be surprised at how you suddenly learn to intuitively ‘read’ people.
Intuition is a vast topic and this article only scratches at the surface. But take this discussion as a starting point and conduct further research of your own, and you will be on the path to taking yourself to a whole new level of being – and with it, open the door to a new level of success.