Whether you call it a gut feeling, an instinct, a hunch, an inner voice, or simply your intuition, there is guidance available to you every moment of the day. That information can help you make successful decisions as well as alert you to impending catastrophes.
Fortunately, we all have the ability to tap into this power. We’re all capable of developing it for practical use in everyday life as well as for any business concerns. But learning to trust your gut at work is much more than simply paying attention to your hunches.
What is Intuition?
The dictionary defines intuition as “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.” It also calls it “quick and ready insight.” It comes from the Latin word “intueri” which means to “look within.” Intuition is direct and immediate knowledge. It tells you what you need to know, when you need to know it. Intuition enables you to gain vital and valuable insight into yourself, friends, business associates and the world around you.
Think of intuition as your own “Inner CEO.” If you were to hire a real-life, flesh-and-blood consultant, you’d want to have a meeting to discuss your concerns. You’d also have some questions for this consultant. Your “Inner CEO” is the creative part of your mind that answers when you ask outcome-oriented questions such as “What could I do to get the results that I want?” or even, “What would X (favorite expert) do?”
Listen for the Answers
Interested in learning how to tap into this inner insight? Set aside ten minutes where you’ll be undisturbed. You’ll need to write down any information you receive. Use a computer, smart phone or a notebook to jot notes. Others have found it best to sit at their keyboard and simply write whatever comes to mind.
You may find the responses come easily if you sit quietly for a few minutes. This is often accomplished by taking several slow, deep breaths. Next, think about your goals and intentions. What do you need to know in order to make a successful next step or a decision about moving forward?
Make a statement about what you want and then ask a question. Open-ended questions are the best. You’ll get the most helpful information if you can phrase your question in a way that evokes more than a “yes or no” answer. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- “I’d like to create record breaking sales this quarter. What is the best way to do this?”
- “I want to motivate my product development team. What’s a good approach?”
- “I want to feel excited by my career again. What are some options that would work for me?”
- “I’d like to improve my ability to listen to my intuition. What steps should I take?”
- “I’d like the product pitch to be successful at tomorrow’s meeting. What should I know about the decision makers and their needs?”
Intuitive answers may arrive as an idea, a fully formed thought, a symbolic image, a physical sensation or a fleeting impression. Jot down or draw whatever answers come. Write all responses, even brief fragments. Try not to edit or analyze your answers during this exercise. That can come later.
Don’t be discouraged if you’re not immediately flooded with insightful wisdom. Intuitive insights have a way of arriving when you least expect them, often coming to mind later in the day. When a great idea arrives, make note of it!
Keeping a record of your insights is a good way to invite more and more valuable hunches and “aha” moments. Look at your written answers from time to time and see how the intuitive intelligence you received has shifted your thoughts in new directions. Check back with it frequently. You may find that an answer that didn’t make sense earlier in the month provides exactly the information you need now.
Raise Your I.Q. — Your Intuition Quotient
Here’s an exercise to help you develop your intuitive muscles and build your “IQ.” It will help you become more aware of the amazing insight your intuition can offer.
- Pay close attention to what your intuition is telling you as you go about your day. Check in with it often.
- Ask your intuition questions, such as: “What should I do in this situation?” “What do I need to know about this?”
- You may get the intuitive answers from a variety of sources, including body sensations (gut feeling, tight shoulders, etc.) emotions, an inner voice, symbolic pictures or dreams.
- Act on the information you receive. Take small steps, if needed. If using your intuition is new for you, try using it in relatively low-risk situations at first.
- If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. You may not receive information immediately. Remember that developing this skill, like any other, is about practicing. You may not be perfect at first. If the information doesn’t feel right or you aren’t ready to act on it — don’t!
- Intuitive information and logical, rational information are not mutually exclusive. Don’t be afraid to get as many facts as possible about your situation or decision. Then you can assess the information using your intuition.
Finally, keep your thoughts on your goals, intentions, hopes and dreams. When you can do this, intuitive information will come forth that will direct you in the fastest and easiest path to success.
Like any skill, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Make the time to routinely check in with your intuition and you will be rewarded with faster, stronger and more accurate insight. The benefit? You’ll gain a competitive advantage that will help you become a better player in the new economy.