After spending several decades assessing the natural talents and authenticity of thousands of coaches, consultants, fortune 500 executives and thought leaders around the globe (as well as re-assessing my own humble abilities) I’ve come to notice an important factor that is easily overlooked when it comes to understanding how to live your life on your terms; Your intuition.
Intuition: “The knowledge from within; instinctive knowledge or feeling without the use of rational processes” The Oxford English Dictionary
Listening to the silent voice inside your head has received horrid portrayals in movies and books as the evil part of man’s mind that turns mild-mannered citizens into lunatic killers.
It’s no wonder that many of us have been conditioned to ignore that voice and only listen to outside signals as our measurement of effectiveness to the actions we take in life.
This could not be further from the truth to someone who is looking to perform at a higher level in life. The voices in your head have always been there speaking to you every day – you just haven’t realized it yet. They are seen on the surface as what is typically called intuition. You must learn to listen to it effectively if you are going to reach your own level of genius performance.
Intuition is not about extrasensory perception (ESP), a sixth sense or anything mystical or metaphysical. It is about data, gathered by your five senses, being recognized by your subconscious mind instead of your conscious mind.
Carl Jung noted, “Intuition does not denote something contrary to reason, but something outside of the province of reason.”
Intuition is about instinctive or subconscious awareness. When I talk with people about the difference between using their conscious and subconscious minds, I use the words reasoning and reacting. Reasoning is the result of logical, rational thought driven by the conscious mind. Reacting is the result of following the intuitive, subconscious mind. Since the subconscious mind misses nothing and is aware of everything around you, whenever you have a feeling about something you can’t explain, it is usually the case that you just can’t explain it based on what your conscious mind is aware of.
Intuition is that sudden flash of insight that comes out of nowhere. It’s that sense you get or decision you make without really thinking about it; it just comes to you. In reality, it doesn’t come out of nowhere. It comes from everything your subconscious mind is aware of. Instead of dismissing intuition as an unfounded and irrational
impulse, genius level success requires that you learn to accept and respect this voice, as it is your natural talents talking to you.
This is easier said than done, though. Just as we are taught not to trust our subconscious mind as much as our conscious one, we’re also taught to go with what we know, not what we feel.
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”~ Albert Einstein
Of mammals, humans seem to be the only ones that actively discourage listening to intuition, but there is a lot of research that proves that intuition actually plays a larger role in decision-making than most conventional teaching would lead us to believe.
• Research into the decision-making of consumers shows that
as much as 95% of the decision to purchase something is subconscious (Harvard-Zaltman, 2003).
• Research on fire fighters showed that 80% of their decisions were subconscious and intuitive rather than logical and rational (Klein et al., 2003).
• Research on naval commanders showed that 95% of their decisions were based on intuition and “gut” rather than actually analyzing and comparing options (Klein et al., 1996).
• Yet another study of commercial airline crews in 1991 found that more than 95% of their decisions were what was termed “snap judgments,” which are those based on intuition, not rationale (Mosier, 1991).
• In a study of offshore oilfield managers, one study showed similarly that 90% of their decisions were not of the conscious, rational type, rather they were snap judgments and intuitive (Flin, 1996).
Great athletes are often quoted as saying, “If I have to think about it, it’s too late.” Even those people that most of us would assume must be very logical and rational turn out to be very much driven by their intuitions.
Physicist Albert Einstein’s genius for conceptual thinking was much more a feeling for him than a rationalization of the facts. So intuitive and pure was this talent, that he only vaguely understood it and rarely attempted to use words or logic to define it. In his work, Principles of Research, Einstein said, “There is no logical path to [truth]. Only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of experience, can reach it.”
This level of trust in intuition is not unusual for any of the modernday geniuses we studied either. Most had a very hard time attempting to explain their decisions in a literal sense. They just knew how they felt and what things they saw clearly or not. Their level of intuition and willingness to trust their gut is extreme.
Painter Pablo Picasso once told a friend, “I don’t know in advance what I am going to put on the canvas any more than I decide beforehand what colors I am going to use. Each time I undertake to paint a picture, I have a sensation of leaping into space. I never know whether I shall land on my feet.” What Picasso is saying here is that he followed his intuition (genius) wherever it led him. He is not trying to control it, he is just trusting his gut and going with the flow.
Poet Robert Frost spoke about his process for writing poetry as one of “carrying out some intention more felt than thought.”
Author Isabel Allende says of her books, “In a very organic way, books don’t happen in my mind, they happen somewhere in my belly. I don’t know what I am going to write about because it has not yet made the trip from belly to the mind.”
Learning to trust your intuition will be one of the more significant journeys you will take to reach the peak of your authenticity towards your natural talents and expectations in every aspect of your life.