Intuition is past, present and future forming in your mind and organisation – right now.
It’s like a trusted friend, who knows you intimately. Takes you by the hand and leads you forward.
Our future lies in all the things we don’t know we don’t know. Your intuition is your first step, a peek into this future.
Without a past – there’s no future
it’s the dream of our future, that gives meaning to our past.
And our experiences of the past that fuels our imagination – our future.
Experience comes from everything we do on a day to day basis. At home, work, alone and together. They help us create our intuitive sense of what’s happening around us.
But intuition is more than remembering how to do things, past successes and avoiding repeating the same mistakes. Which is basically having a good memory.
Memories must be cherished. But they’re not propelling us forwards in the same way as dreams and creative thoughts. They may even hold us back at times. Keeping us living in the better days of our past. That we often glorify, when things in current times are challenging. Or believing past mistakes equates to what we’re capable of today.
Intuition is not a talent bestowed on a few lucky people by nature. Neither is it some unattainable magic force or something that only a few have the ‘skill’ to form. We create it by opening up our senses to everything around us.
Building up our intuition, our belief in ourselves, and the decisions we make. That may not be entirely founded in facts. Will unlock creativity and move ideas forward, that was previously stifled or halted. Because we are afraid of getting it wrong.
Intuition is past and present forming your future. In your mind – right now. It’s our brains peripheral vision
And as a business. The closer your organisation comes to function as an organism. The more intuitive it becomes.
What is intuition
The definition from Lexico
The ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.
A thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning.
and Merriam Webster
a: the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference
b: immediate apprehension or cognition
c: knowledge or conviction gained by intuition
quick and ready insight
It’s one of the most remarkable abilities of our brains. It has driven human exploration and innovation from the first flame, through to the fast pace of modern days. And it will pull us into our next many millennia.
It’s our human brains that imagined everything we have today. Not the computers we build with it. And it is still our best instrument for creating the world we want to live in. We are capable of so much more. Than re-creating our past at an increasingly higher pace.
Our intuition can also be regarded as a high level representation of our in-build early warning system. Our anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala, hippocampus and other central brain functions. That combined constitutes our fight or flight responses, early learning & error detection. And other instinctive behaviour. (1)
It will give us early warning signs, in our private life, health and in business. Our senses, and our brain. Peripheral vision and instincts. Will always try to warn and protect us. Especially when we’re too tired or stressed to hear and feel the signals.
Our intuition helps us understand things, products and ideas. Perceiving others around us – predicting behaviour, how people will react. And how we will react ourselves.
Intuition is like a trusted friend, who knows you intimately. Takes you by the hand and leads you forward. Solving problems for you and showing you opportunities.
But you still need to slow down and listen. Our intuition can be ever so subtle at times. Trust everything you’ve learned and experienced. And contribute your unique blend to the world.
(1) Deliberately simplified
How to build your intuition
Everything you do – absolutely everything. Is part of creating, building, shaping and updating your intuition.
The updating part is key. We need to keep it fresh and active. Like any other part of our body and mind. It needs exercise to stay fresh and healthy.
Not to worry. It’s literally childs play. You’ve been doing it ever since you could crawl :
Observe the world around you
Find out how things work
Take them apart
Put them together in new ways
People watching is your base level. Obviously not by intrusively prying in their personal lives, or crudely starring at them. Just paying attention to people around you, their mannerisms, how they go about things.
Same as when we have conversations. We learn quite a lot about ourselves from what we recognise in others. And even more from what they do that’s different and new. As mundane as it may appear. It’s noticing the details, all the subtle differences and nuances that makes us observant.
Watching people with an active interest in what they do and how, will already teach you plenty. Just pause for a minute and watch how a plumber repairs a water faucet, or the sanitation truck. The basic functions of our society is a great place to begin.
Learn about anything and everything, try as many things, ideas and experiences as possible. Speak with people doing all manner of jobs, activities and hobbies. Watch lots of documentaries – not least about nature, medicine and the human body. Read fiction, fantasy and non-fiction.
We live in a world that’s wonderfully diverse and teeming with activity. There are more answers than any of us will get to in several life times.
Find out how things around you are made, how it works, the materials going into them. The types of jobs it takes to make them, service and maintain them. What’s the history behind them – how did they evolved over time. New innovations in the area.
By starting your journey with known objects and services you use regularly. You have a better chance of understanding them, you can actively feel and engage with them. You’ll be surprised how much goes into, and therefor how much you’ll learn. From everyday objects we all take for granted.
This may appear like a lot. Maybe you don’t feel particularly curious to begin with. But once you get under the skin of for instance, how the glas you’re drinking water from is made. How old glass making is. That glass is not technically solid… you may be well on your journey of discovery.
And the subtle differences in how the same product is made and used by different people. Will give you valuable insights to their culture. Their habits and customs. And you own.
Taking things apart. Doesn’t necessarily mean physically disassembling them, unless you plan to put it back together or have a worn out example. Find a video of how it’s made, find the drawings, read the product manual. If you want to go a step deeper, look for patents and the innovations making the product possible.
Look at the history, previous versions, similar products. The journey of products is a great way to see how things have evolved, and sometimes abate. You’ll learn good lessons from the intuition that others have applied.
Everything man made, is constructed from some core elements, and mostly made to be used by humans. So, when you encounter something new. It’s very likely made up, more or less, by these same components you already know. They may look and feel a little different. But you’ll recognise them.
Have a look at a pair of sneakers. You’ll find at least 10 different materials, several different manufacturing and assembly methods. Decades of studies in human anatomy and motion, surface traction and comfort. And imagination going into the design and style.
Intuition comes from the combinations, cross sections, intersections, blending, disassembling and recombining of it all. In new and unlikely ways. They become new thoughts and ideas, a deeper sense and instinct for everything that follows.
When we’re children. We’re complimented and encouraged for our creative drawings, stories about fantastic made up places we wanted to visit. And generally unrealistic and improbable ideas. And then we’re educated out of being creative – taught not to waste our time goofing about.
But remember. Our future lies in all the things we don’t know we don’t know. Your intuition is your first step, a peek into this future.
So when you begin moving from 1 + 2 = 3. And derive C from looking at A and B. To 3 + how peripheral vision draws our attention + ants leave scent trails for each other to follow = makes no sense right now. . . then you’re getting somewhere interesting :).
The more you play around with everything, make up unlikely scenarios, fantasise, build weird things. The more you’re opening up your brain to experiment on its own – aka building your intuition.
Everything you come across. You can re-configure or re-design in your mind, on a piece of paper or even build it. Doing it together with others is even better.
And getting it wrong – often, is important. It’s as much all the ‘things we are not doing’ ideas and possibilities that shapes us. They frame our understanding of a topic and move us towards solutions. And offer opportunities to revisit our own perceptions. To change our minds with new learning.
Intuition in itself is of course thoughts. It doesn’t materialise itself unless we shape it into actions, words or physical things.
So why focus on physical products. How’s that helping me if I’m a sales person, in customer service or writing code?
Physical products – things. Are usually easier to understand than thoughts. We can see and feel them. And thereby easier separate and consider the thoughts going into each of the parts. Think of them as your mental gym for more complex ideas and concepts.
Thoughts – mental images, are likewise much easier to comprehend and look at. When we consider the parts they’re made up of. Their origins and how they relate to each other.
. . . Ideas, theories, concepts, perceptions. . .
All thoughts consist of multiple underlying ideas, pieces of knowledge and memories. There’s the reason – and then there’s the real reason behind it. There’s complex patterns behind every intuitive thought and how you feel about it.
Same as you should always strive, to understand what lies behind what others are saying and doing. We can look for the underlying elements that form and informs the thought we are trying to understand.
It’s these underlying ideas, dreams, memories and cultural elements. That will help us form a more holistic image. It will paint an increasingly clear image in our minds. Making all the connections to our brains existing collection on the subject – and everything associated with it.
Focusing on our surroundings and listening to others. Does not mean we’re replacing our own thoughts or convictions. It means we are able to set our view of the world in perspective. We’re seeing ourselves reflected in them, they become our mirrors.
Understanding physical things and diving into ideas, concepts and cultures. Are exciting training grounds for our intuition. It stimulates hundreds of intuitive thoughts every day. Helps us see and recognise more patterns, predict behaviour in others. Know how we’re going to react to a situation before it has fully played out.
One idea at the time, step by step. It’s amazing where it can take us.
As a group. Wether it’s as a family, group of friends or a team. Each individual participant will have various degrees of intuitive ideas and feelings about a subject.
If decisions are made by one individual, the group’s direction is driven by intuition. But the execution of tasks, how we go about doing things, the efforts we put into it. Will be highly influenced by the individual members of the group – as it should be.
It’s far more constructive, to make any and all group decisions by consensus. With all the usual caveats surrounding decision making. That ultimately a leader may have to make a final decision, in order to move forward.
Consensus invites the intuition of all participants. It is more likely to generate a natural agreement. And should a final leadership decision be needed. It will be far more well informed.
Learn to trust and rely on your intuition
. . . your gut feeling – credible hunches – shower moments . . .
Trust is a choice. And that is more true for yourself, than when it comes to trusting others. You have a first row seat to all the reasons for not trusting yourself. All the memories of failing and getting it wrong.
People close to us, and funny enough a lot of those who knows nothing about us. Who have told us we are wrong, can’t do it, don’t know enough. Our ideas are stupid, make wrong choices, propose bad solutions, etc. They nag our self confidence.
It is remarkable how a split-second thought. Can creep in and make you doubt weeks and months of careful thinking and practice. Ask a professional athlete in a clutch moment.
The three pointer to win the match – with the clock on the last 2 tenths of a second. Braving the last corner on worn tires. The 2 degree extra twist in the wrist, from the top of the swing till the golf club hits the ball – that keeps you out of the rough.
In everyday life, at work and in our personal lives. We have thousands of these moments. Albeit less hectic – they’re still important.
There’s no magic recipe or cool 5-step plan you can follow to solidify your trust in yourself. It will happen over time, as you actively learn from and engage with the world.
We should follow the same method as for all learning; take a moment to consider what you seek or expect to learn from it beforehand. Write it down, so not to allow time or sentiment, to distort the actual into perceived outcomes.
And use this method to train yourself in objective self observation and evaluation. So when you have unplanned experiences – constituting most of what we do. You have a good measure, of how well developed your intuition in a given area or topic is.
When our intuition is right, it can in some ways feel a bit like deja vu. When something feels unknown – yet comfortable. You may be uncertain whether to trust it, since you can’t recall the thought process that brought it about.
Of course, always carefully consider acting on intuitive thoughts – same as with all information. But generally trust your minds un-match ability. To identify new connections between hidden elements. It has derived must be part of something you taught it in the past, that you most likely forgot about.
And some times the warm comfortable feeling, comes from avoiding a bad situation.
Like a good friend steadying you.
What to do when your intuition “fails” you ?
Most important – and often most difficult. Is remembering and believing, that it did not ‘fail’ you.
Intuition is part of our instinct for what can ‘happen to us’. It’s part of our early warning system, telling us when something is off – something is about to happen.
Still. In our busy and very noisy everyday lives. We often don’t see the warning signs. Same as we’re not good enough at taking care of ourselves physically and mentally. We are not that good at listening, to what is happening within and around us.
And luckily for most of us. Not everything happening is threatening bodily harm. It’s far more common and daily instances that can sidetrack us.
It is likely that your intuition in that particular area or situation. Has just started to form. And instead of seeing it as having failed you. Know that you added another important piece to it. Which you will realise looking back. We live life forwards and experience it backwards.
It’s possible your product or service needs improvement. Or your salesmanship didn’t persuade the customer. Something to learn from and work on.
As the world around us change, and we change. Our intuition in every area and aspect of life. Is and should be ever evolving and developing.
Maybe, at the final decision or solution choice, you decided to compromise. Or a person in a leadership position, very possibly a customer or sponsor, decided for you. Hence – it was not your intuition that failed.
Being a team player or vendor often means you have to forgo intuition – the “right” choice. And do what is needed. As a compromise, or simply do what the customer needs and wants.
You must at all times remember. That in most cases – You are not the customer.
Hopefully your customer is a good customer. And gives you feedback on how the product or solution worked for them over time. And you as a good vendor, will of course follow up with your customer to receive feedback. All of which will add to your intuition.
Some times it is simply not your decision. And all you can do, is feel good about having positively and constructively. Contributed to the best possible, and most valuable, outcome for the customer.
You went with a ‘safer’ solution, the tried and tested. Or with somebody else’s solution, even you knew you had a better one.
Could be the first time you have a hunch in a certain area. And you feel it’s too risky to go with your newest method or idea.
It’s most likely your intuition kicking in and self regulating. It’s not always about going with your latest idea. And it’s healthy to let our intuition guide us – rather than our ego.
We may have split second doubts about the true and tested. Maybe it’s during a presentation, playing sports, approaching a person you’re otherwise comfortable with.
Our amazing brain, capable of creating all the disparate connections fuelling our intuition. Is equally capable of reminding us of past failures, something sensitive said to us years ago, and baseless self critique. It only needs a split second.
It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you, or you are weak. A little self awareness is healthy. And it will check and tackle us when we least need it. Or maybe it’s just a slow period for you.
It’s ok – it’s the stuff off days are made of, and everybody has them. If it becomes a pattern – you need to work on it. Talk with a trusted friend, coach or mentor. There could be deeper rooted issues holding you back. Everybody needs help to get unstuck now and then.
A major setback can cause you to dismiss or distrust your intuition, inner voice and decisions for a period of time. Some times for a significant period.
When something major happens in your personal life. A health crisis, accident, divorce or being fired can cause a disruption to all the signals you’d normally listen to and trust.
It is in those moments and during your time of getting back on track that seeking help and advice is especially important. It cannot be underestimated how important it is to regain your belief in everything your have learned and experienced up till now.
It is your experienced and intuitive self that will get you fully back up to speed !!
The risk of intuition
There is, as with everything. A risk of relying too much on one facet of decision making.
Intuition is a collection of past preferred memories. Meaning we have a tendency to remember and favour solutions, and ideas where people agreed with us. We were complimented and rewarded. Serving our most basic needs for belonging, love and recognition.
This does in no way invalidate or diminished the value. Of neither past experiences, or your intuition and gut feeling !
But a healthy, sober and ever reflective relationship with our gut. Will reward us with the ability to trust it over time, and through periods of doubt and shock, which will naturally happen.
Also be mindful. With increased experience and routine in any area. You naturally develop a strong intuition. You may come to consider it as complete. Only risking it goes stale.
It needs new inputs to evolve, like any muscle it needs exercise to remain subtle and strong. Stay curious, open to new ideas and everything new the world around you have to offer.
Without a future – there’s no past
As we haven’t yet found a way to predict the future. With any more certainty than the belief, that things repeat themselves. And people behave in generally predictable ways.
Which are in general reasonable and safe assumptions.
We are better of, actively working on creating our future – together.
This is where a well developed, broad and deep, intuition, is your best tool and advantage. The more patterns you see, the more your brain naturally fit new pieces into the larger expanding image. The more forward pathways you will see and imagine.
Your intuition is both steadying you, in the decisions you’re making for today, and showing you a path forward.
It’s the dream of our future, that gives meaning to our past. All the work, everything we had to go through, experiences we’ve had. All the people we’ve been lucky to meet and engage with.
Our future lies in all the things we don’t know we don’t know. Your intuition is your first step, a peek into this future.
Of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry. Why should that mean it isn’t real?Professor Dumbledore
Photo by Yuri Catalano