“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
Does this scenario sound familiar?
You have a friend who seems to have an uncanny knack of knowing when to start projects and when to hold back, and you wonder how he does it.
When you ask, he answers, “Intuition.”
Maybe you got the feeling that something wasn’t right about your last product launch – but you ignored it, only to discover that the feeling was right all along, and you should’ve paid attention.
Chances are, you’re like most people – thinking that it’s okay to pay attention to your intuition when it comes to minor things like picking a parking spot, but not for important decisions, and definitely not when it comes to your business.
But, what if you’re wrong?
Everyone has intuition, but whether you use it or not is a choice. What if by not trusting your intuition you’re not using all the tools available to you?
Albert Einstein said this about intuition:
“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.”
Perhaps it’s time to take a look at this forgotten gift and see how you can use it for greater business success.
Why is Intuition So Powerful?
You may have heard intuition referred to as a gut feeling, sixth sense, innate wisdom, inner knowing, an inner voice, intuitive flash, or an “aha!” moment.
I’ve been in tune with my intuition all my life. This built-in radar has saved me from driving into a riot, declining a job that lead to something greater, and creating a tour company.
My insights come in various ways: an uneasy feeling, a sense that something isn’t quite right, or an idea that needs to be followed.
Not following my intuition often leads to a palm slap on the forehead, accompanied by the words, “I knew it!”
Stepping Beyond the Woo-Woo
Although many people may dismiss intuition as “woo-woo” as soon as they hear the word, there is a growing body of scientific evidence to show that intuition is more than merely a feeling. Science shows that intuition is the result of our brains piecing together information and experiences to form different or less obvious ideas.
Barry Gordon’s book Intelligent Memory discusses the link between decision-making and intuition:
From birth, our brains compartmentalize experiences and information into an elaborate filing system. When new data is received, the brain searches the files for similar information. Upon finding a match, the new information is combined with the existing information to create a new idea or thought.
You can liken this to a conveyor belt of thoughts; did you know that you have a constant flow of thoughts passing through your mind in any given moment?
For example: you’re having coffee at Starbucks, reading about a new marketing strategy and wondering how to apply it to your business. Your head is full of thoughts and scenarios, but nothing stands out.
Then, you happen to tune in to a conversation at the next table. You hear something that grabs your attention and your brain begins to search for matches. (This occurs instantaneously, without you even being aware that it’s happening.)
This new piece of information combines with the existing information in your brain to form a new pattern. You have a flash of insight or a streak of intuition, and suddenly you know exactly how to use the new marketing in your company – something new has been created!
Neuroscientists have found that, whereas many skills and capabilities are relegated to the ‘left’ brain or ‘right’ brain, intuition is a ‘whole’ brain function. Doesn’t it make sense that you are more effective when using your whole brain rather than just parts of it?
Your intuition is available to you 24/7. You just have to tune in.
But, if intuition is just something that just happens, how can you harness that power so that you can use it whenever you need it?
Tuning In to Your Forgotten Gift
One of the key components of using intuition is developing trust. If you don’t trust your intuition then you aren’t likely to use it. Similar to other parts of your body, your intuition is like a muscle; in order for it to get stronger you have to work at it.
Let’s talk about 6 key ways that you can learn to trust your intuition:
1. Know how your intuition speaks to you
Each person experiences intuition differently. Some people will have a gut feeling, while others might experience a strong mental picture, a repetitive thought, an idea, or even a dream.
Begin by paying attention to how your intuition communicates with you. A good place to start is with your past; try to recall some of those missed opportunities where you knew you should have done something but didn’t. Do you remember where you were and what it felt like when you suddenly knew? Be open to those same signals in the present.
2. Move logic aside for a while and just be present
Can you recall a time when you discovered a major glitch with one of your services or offerings? You were probably frantic to get it fixed, but the more you tried to fix, it the more messed up it became. And, the more messed up it became, the greater your frustration, anger, and stress.
Sometimes the best thing to do is to step away and disconnect from the emotions of the situation. Emotions come from thoughts, and thoughts cloud judgment.
Watch and listen. (No judgment! No analysis! No trying to understand!) Be still and just observe.
This is where your whole brain merges and the pieces come together with a new way of looking at the problem, if you can just give your brain enough space to make the connection.
3. Shift your focus and see what appears
People often get stuck because they can’t “see the forest for the trees”. Maybe you are like me; when I started building my business I was doing everything I was taught to build up my client base, but was only seeing a trickle of sign-ups. I had no idea what else to do.
My intuition was telling me to take a step back from it – to become a detached observer. I asked myself what I wasn’t seeing and waited without seeking. In order to help facilitate the process, I actually started working on something else. A couple of days later, I knew what needed to be done. And, once I implemented those changes, my client base began to grow.
Let it go for a while and see what appears. Don’t dismiss any new insight, thought, or idea – these are the intuitive gifts you are seeking.
4. Be clear about your intention
If you are starting something new or different, make sure your intention is clear. Your intention becomes the filter through which you observe the process of creation.
When you have a razor sharp idea of what your company does and what that looks in the world, every decision will reflect that clarity. Your intention is the solid ground that helps guide your search engine. When you face choices or dilemmas, your intuition will be grounded in your vision. This, you can trust.
5. Know what you value
Consciously or unconsciously, your choices will be determined by your values. Similar to your intention, knowing what you value guides you in your day-to-day business dealings and forms the basis of your decision-making.
If you are solid in your values, your intuition will reflect this. Being crystal clear on these two points means that you can trust that your intuition will always give you information based on this solid footing.
For example, if you have to decide between two courses of action and both feel just a little off, then it’s likely that neither option is lined up with your values or intention. Chances are, you should look for another option.
6. Commit to action
It’s one thing to recognize a flash of intuition, but it is another to put it into action. This last step requires both trust and commitment.
Having a ‘flash of insight’ that you are heading in the wrong direction (and maybe it would be best to rethink and shift direction) can bring up a whole mess of fears and thought cycles.
In this case, listening to this flash of insight takes trust and commitment. Action starts the momentum in the other direction. The choice is yours: stay where you are or venture into the unknown.
Turning Intuition into Action
When you have mastered the six keys listed here, you will end up with a strong foundation of well-defined values and intention. From there, it’s easy to build up trust in your intuitive ability. Each time you listen to your intuition and take successful action, your trust will grow.
The intuitive mind can become a great asset in business and life when you learn how to trust it consistently – and confidently.
Now back to you. Have you experienced a time in your business when you wished that you had listened to your intuition? Or, was there a time that trusting your gut saved you from making a terrible mistake? Leave a comment below, and let me know!