Recently I wrote a blog about intuition, Subtlety and Intuition Are Close Cousins, that spoke to the nature of intuition, how we recognize it, and how we develop it. Today I’m writing about the hardest part of intuition—learning to trust it.
Once we recognize an intuition, a feeling or a sensation or that we need to move in a particular direction, the tendency is to descend into the “What ifs” and “Yeah buts.” We tend to second-guess our intuitions because they often times do not make much sense intellectually.
All the great sales trainers have written extensively about how people tend to make purchasing decisions based more on emotion than on product comparison. Though that’s somewhat changing with the help of the Internet and its online purchasing platforms. Though even when we read all the reviews, compare the prices, and consider the specs there is still some emotion involved in our buying choices.
I’m not suggesting that the buying emotion is our intuition talking to us necessarily. It may, or it may not. The point is, that if we are willing to make decisions like the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, and the homes we live in based largely on emotion, why then can we not be courageous enough to make decisions about the direction of our careers, the values we employ, and the relationships we cultivate based the emotions that tell us where our heart wants to go?
Could it be that the tug of our hearts is our intuition talking to us, but the idea of actually following the tug is scary, and may even feel like jumping off a ledge into completely unknown territory? Yes …
Yes to intuition, and yes to it being scary. It’s most often scary for us when we are feeling pulled in an unconventional direction, or a direction that is simply new for us. How do I know this? Because decisions based solely on intellect are decisions based largely in fear—fear that we need to rely on comparisons to make our decisions so that we can justify our decisions to ourselves, our colleagues, our spouses and partners, and to our friends and family. Decisions based on gut feeling are considered flagrant and irresponsible.
A friend and colleague of mine, Justin Belleme, recently shared with me that as a CEO of a small Internet marketing firm he has rarely looked at the resumes of the people he hires and doesn’t necessarily require them to have any experience in his field. Yet his business is doing great. Why is that? Could it be that Justin practices trusting intuition and hires people based on how well they will fit culturally with his company? Yes. In practice this has worked extremely well for him. He has very little turn over and maintains a small team of committed professionals who require little to no supervision.
Justin’s approach is a departure from the HR world in which you require candidates to posses precisely the experience for which a position requires—x years of this or that, must have this credential or that, and so on. It’s also a departure from the realm of management and an embracing of true leadership. The catalyst for Justin’s departure from established norms is courage—the courage to trust his intuition.
Howard Schultz has talked about the pressure he has received from Wall Street analysts to cut medical benefits to employees of Starbucks to make the company more profitable. Schultz’s response has been a resolute “No” as he has the courage to stick with his intuition about how important it is to treat employees with respect and to do all he can for them, because he knows it will be reciprocated with their dedication and professionalism.
There are many examples how possessing the courage to trust intuition results in better overall performance and greater longevity. We must begin by listening to our hearts, and then by employing the warrior spirit to trust intuition.