Intuition is the answer
We all want answers to our questions. This is a natural state of curiosity present in us as conscious human beings. Given this predisposition for wanting answers we also find it uncomfortable, strange and a bit unsettling when we don’t know. Most questions follow the inclination of the asker. Often our questions are also directed outside of ourselves rather than within. To go within is to ponder, reflect consider. Such a luxury is not often afforded given our busy lives and work schedule. Following the way things are, staying with the status quo, going with convention we also tend to pull back form the art of asking questions.
Now this may sound like I am leading us into a path for the use of philosophy in our lives. Perhaps I am. But no instead I am putting forward the context in which intuition can be your ally. Yes intuition. Intuition is a powerful way to answer your questions. What makes it useful and relevant is that when we connect to and access our intuition we are going to the source within us for answers to our questions. Our intuition though is a means not an end. We can use this sense, this instinctual process, to get to a place quicker, more definitively and less distracted.
Before going further let’s consider the definition of intuition. In a workshop sense I would ask you first to define this yourself. So before you read further what do you think intuition means? What is your definition?
Now your definition is likely a good start. It is also likely informed by what you think it should be. For me I like to use a working definition as follows:
Intuition is knowing what you know without knowing how you know.
You get the answer, it feels right and at some level within you it works. When someone asks you why and how, you will not be able to give a lot. You might be able to explain your process and how you got the answer using your own style, but it is not going to match the level of rigor inherent in evidence based, research oriented perspectives.
Complements, not compete
So to start lets not see intuition as a competing way of knowing but as a complementary way. Intuition enhances your use of logic, reason and analysis. It might lead you down a particular path rather than another. It might guide you to ask one question instead of another. It might peak your curiosity at just the right time to enable discovery of a trend or pattern in your data. It taps into that part of you that looks at the whole, connects the dots and integrates.
Intuition at work
Intuition can thus become an ally in all aspects of our lives and work. For purposes of this article let me hone in on the work aspect. At work, there are many areas in which we seek answers to questions. On a daily basis managers and leaders are making decisions. These decisions lead to consequences. Often the degree of surety, certainty and confidence needs to be high. The more that is hanging on a decision the more that goes into making the decision, asking the questions.
Yet after all the analysis, pros and cons, flowcharts, data gathering there still comes a point where you have to say yes or no, do I go this way or that? At some level you have to go with what you feel is right. Your decision may be to agree entirely on the facts, evidence and research presented. A case before you can provide all the elements to increase your surety. Yet what happens when there is an inkling of doubt? What about the moment of pause when you say ‘but’ or ‘what if’. This is the window where intuition comes into the equation. This is where you have to find a place inside of you that is comfortable, knows and supports a direction and decision.
Day to day intuition
In the day to day aspect of work one common thread is the delivery of a service or product to another, whether internally or externally to the organisation. This service oriented flow can be in any area eg - managing back office operations, leading product development, presenting financials. The list would be endless of examples where you take actions that deliver a result for others in your organisation or ultimately an end customer.
Every day you do your job you bring to the equation skills, competencies, qualifications and experience. Add into this formula the guidance of a mentor, direction from a higher level manager, regulatory body governance and more. Before you finish doing your work you have considered the inputs of multiple sources of knowledge, skill and experience to ensure you do the best job that you can do or in some cases just to get the job done.
Note that most of these parameters are externally oriented. Yes even your skills and experiences are based on the environments and places you worked. Whereas intuition is by contrast an internal experience even if triggered by external factors.
Uncertainty is a given
Intuition thrives in situations where there is uncertainty. The more we don't know the more we need to find a way to guide us. What happens when what we have done for years no longer fits what we need to do now? For example you get thrown into a project in which you have no first hand experience. Or the rules of the game both in the company and the industry changed. Or what about a unforeseeable turn of events economically, globally or geographically? Imagine that what you thought was certain changed and now you have an entirely different ball game.
Intuition is the answer
The resource that will serve you in all situations is to trust your intuition. Your intuition is with you wherever you go. Your intuition is accessable from within. Your intuition is unique to you. Your intuition gives you an edge. Your intuition can increase your confidence. Your intuition saves you time and effort.
Yet even with such enviable benefits intuition takes time to develop and apply. This time factor is not because you don’t have the skill. On the contrary we all have the ability to tap into our intuition. No it is more that our society and work environments create contexts that preclude us from using intuition as a valid resource.
For intuition to really work for you there are three key ingredients:
1. Trust yourself.
2. Accept that there is uncertainty.
3. Believe you ARE intuitive.
Many of us already use our intuition but don’t acknowledge it consciously. The focus here is to enable us to be conscious about our use of intuition so we can apply it effectively with greater results.
So here's to you finding the answers to your questions, enjoying the process and remembering how to use your intuition.