Monday, November 7, 2011

But Steve, how do we do it?

Intuition - our inner wisdom.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Einstein

Despite increasing research on its potency as a form of knowing, very few leadership and management courses acknowledge intuition, let alone explore its role in decision making, creativity and well, life.  Furthermore, it is still a rare thing to hear leaders talk openly about it.

Steve Jobs did.

At one level, we use our intuition all the time – we wouldn’t know what to choose for breakfast if we didn’t have those capabilities. But here we are talking about something more profound.  That deep knowing we have even if we don’t know how we know.

How do we learn to access, trust and use that?  

Essentially it seems that if we are still, aware and brave enough – we can nurture it and use it effectively in the complex ill-structured challenges we face on a daily basis. Drawing on the research I did whilst at Lane4 exploring intuition in coaching, here are some ideas for cultivating our intuitive gifts, including somewhat paradoxical, being analytical about it...

  • Turn up and tune in: the more we are in a calm, centred and confident state, the more chance we have of listening deeply, noticing those physical sensations and trusting those messages.
  • Try it and test it: Like anything, our intuitive capabilities improve with practice. I like sport metaphors, and ‘getting a feel for your batting average’ as suggested by Sadler-Smith and Shefy (2004) makes sense. Get a feel, through logging/recording how you intuit, in what situations, your level of confidence, accuracy and the outcome.
  • Talk about it – the more we talk about our intuitive experiences, particularly as leaders, the more we can learn about it and enhance its 'legitimacy' as a source of wisdom.
And as Elle Harrison (2011) challenged in her stirring book Wild Courage, intuition may not always take us into the future we envisioned or to the outcome we expected...but from the point of view of the soul, it is always right – it draws us into life more fully.

  • Sadler-Smith, E. and Shefy, E. (2004), The intuitive executive: understanding and applying ‘gut-feel’ in decision-making, Academy of Management Learning and Education, 18:4: 76-91)
  • Harrison, E. (2011) Wild Courage: A Journey of Transformation for You and Your Business, Watkins Publishing, UK


  1. Great second post bella & it entirely chimes with my current journey, learning how to fully use & have faith in my own intuition!

  2. I have a feeling you have always followed your intuition creative Cathy..and your relationship with it has got stronger and deeper (particularly over this year!)..

  3. That's lovely - & very reassuring to hear. I often feel I'm stumbling through the fog! But then you address the wisdom of unknowing in your next post...

  4. if we sit still..the fog will clear (unless you live in Milano! ;)