Almost every business these days is so intent on collecting and analyzing data that the idea of making a decision based on a gut feeling is starting to look downright quaint. “People say, ‘Intuition isn’t reliable,’ “But neither is logic alone.”
Ever found yourself in a situation that looked fine on the surface but just didn’t feel right, and later realized you should have trusted your gut? Then you know exactly what this article is all about.
Maybe you went on a date with someone who seemed great but turned out to be creepy—or maybe you took a job that was perfect for you on paper, only to find it wasn’t the right fit.
If so, you’re not alone because as a leader using objective facts to make straightforward decisions often makes sense. But just as often, we choose to ignore intuitive judgments at our peril.
People like thinking of the world as completely logical. It’s a comfort zone because it makes life predictable, or so we think, but the trouble with that is, life can be unpredictable and messy. Without learning adequately how to tap into what our subconscious mind is telling us, we can’t always arrive at the best possible decision.
As more and more jobs are turned over to algorithms and artificial intelligence keeps taking over, intuition offers a career advantage both as a leader and otherwise, because robots no matter how good and efficient they are, haven’t got it – at least not yet.
Along with empathy, imagination, and a sense of humor, intuition is one thing that artificial intelligence can’t match. The more sophisticated technology becomes, the more urgently employers are looking for candidates with high emotional intelligence (EQ)—that ineffable, deeply human blend of traits, including intuition, that goes far beyond number-crunching.
Intuitive decisions and purely data-driven ones are often viewed as opposites, but in reality they’re not which is why the latest research shows that, far from being separate and distinct, the left and right sides of our brains—the analytical part and the more subjective, creative part—are constantly working together, exchanging information back and forth.
One thing this means is that intuition, which is based on the knowledge we may not even be consciously aware that we have, is a critical stream of data that needs to be included when we have a decision to make. I’m privileged to have seen leaders who have made brilliant moves by not relying on data alone.
There are also roadblocks to intuition but the good news is that something can actually be done about it.
The main obstacle is our rational minds, including the sheer speed and volume of our thoughts. The incessant chatter in our heads from dawn to dusk pushes out our inner signals and cues, so they’re difficult to recognize. Another big one is doubt. By that, I mean second-guessing our deeper knowledge, especially in a risky or unfamiliar situation. The destructive result is that we stop trusting ourselves and our own perceptions.
Take an exercise from mental chatter by walking away for a moment because just getting away from the thinking you’re doing, and slowing yourself down, gives you a different perspective. Leave your cell phone on your desk and just go outside and look around. Steve Jobs used to take walks around the Apple campus, usually barefoot, which really forces you to slow down! Most people have noticed that they have their best, most innovative ideas while in the shower or doing something else unrelated to work. This is the same principle.
How Does Intuition Fit Into A Job Search And Life In General?
Part of it has to do with learning to trust your intuition as a valid source of information. When you’re trying to acquire a new skill, climb new heights or they’re trying to get you to come work with them, interviewers naturally put the company’s very best foot forward, and that’s fine. But authenticity can be lacking.
So you need to pay attention to all the signals you’re getting from the moment you take that decision, walk into the building, including people’s body language. What kind of vibe are you sensing from the place or environment? Do the people you pass in the hallways look glum or bored, or rushed and stressed, or what? Take all that into account, not only whatever is in the formal job description. Listen to what your intuition is telling you about whether you’d want to go there or do that every day.
There are quite some decisions that you really need to make with your intuition, I’ve heard businessmen say that they made a wrong call and lost money even though their guts were warning them against that business dealing.
Google is famous for a technique called the elevator walk. After the formal interview, while the hiring manager walks you to the elevator, that five- or 10-minute casual conversation is where he or she makes an intuitive decision about hiring you. Same with anyone who wants to conduct the job interview over lunch. It’s not about checking out your table manners. It’s to get an intuitive idea of how well you’d fit into the culture.
In as much as how important it is for you to be guided by your intuition, it’s also important to train your intuition and yourself to be more sensitive.
Here are 3 basic ways that help you to train your intuition for better decision making
#1 Develop a habit of consciously learning (acquiring relevant knowledge) every day because most of the things you absorbed and you think it doesn’t matter, are actually embedded inside your subconscious mind and they unveil themselves to your advantage on a day you least expect. I can confidently attest to that.
#2 Build faith and confidence in yourself because most of the time, thought leaders are not able to detect at the moment what their intuition is really telling them or the direction their gut is pushing them towards.
Learn to trust your intuition in little things like the color of tie to wear, the route to take or the restaurant to eat at. Believe it or not, your intuition is always suggesting something to you but you need to develop the skill of paying attention in the little things and once that confidence is built, you will have the courage to follow your intuition in making big decisions.
#3 Learn to take responsibility for whatever the outcome of your decision is because you won’t get it right all the time and you won’t have all the time to figure it out right all the time but once your intuition has been trained and has been fully developed; you will surely get it right most of the time.
As a leader, learning to take responsibility for your decision and the outcome of your actions will truly differentiate you from the pack and make you unique.
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