The Intuition Advantage

Intuition often takes a backseat to logic and analysis, especially in the business world.

However, as Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book Blink, ‘intuitive decision-making can be a formidable asset for entrepreneurs and dynamic leaders.’

Steve Jobs shared in his Stanford commencement address in 2005, ‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.’

The word ‘intuition’ comes from the Latin ‘intueri,’ meaning to look inside. And as an artist, I think of intuition as the internal guiding light that shines from the subconscious.

Embracing our intuitive prowess allows us to make split-second decisions, see patterns where others see chaos, and seize opportunities that would otherwise pass us by. 

Intuition, often referred to as a gut feeling or sixth sense, offers a range of psychological and neurological benefits that contribute to decision-making, problem-solving, and overall well-being. 

Using your Intuition Advantage

Rapid Decision-making 

Intuition enables quick decision-making by drawing upon accumulated knowledge, experiences, and subconscious processing. It allows individuals to reach conclusions rapidly without going through lengthy deliberation processes.

Pattern Recognition

Intuition helps in recognizing patterns and connections between seemingly unrelated pieces of information. This ability is vital in complex problem-solving and strategic planning.

Emotional Processing

Intuition is closely linked to emotions, allowing individuals to grasp underlying emotional states in themselves and others. This enhanced emotional intelligence leads to better interpersonal relationships and more effective communication.

Creativity and Innovation 

Intuition plays a crucial role in the creative process by facilitating novel and imaginative ideas. It allows individuals to think outside the box and explore unconventional solutions.

Trust and Confidence

When people rely on their intuition and see positive outcomes, it reinforces their trust in their own judgment and decision-making abilities, leading to increased self-confidence.

Experts often develop “expert intuition” through years of practice and exposure to various situations, allowing them to recognize patterns and make quick, informed decisions. For example, seasoned investors or experienced CEOs may rely on their intuition to identify promising business opportunities.

By using both intuitive insights and data-driven analysis, decision makers can achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the situation and make well-informed choices.

Intuition in Action

Trusting the “Gut Feeling”

Meet Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. While working her way through various jobs, Blakely had a “eureka” moment when she realized that women needed an undergarment that provided support without visible panty lines. 

She trusted her intuition and started working on her invention. Blakely faced numerous rejections while trying to sell her idea, but she persisted. Eventually, her gut feeling paid off, and today, Spanx is a global brand that revolutionized the shapewear industry. Her journey is a reminder that embracing your instincts, even in the face of adversity, can lead to groundbreaking achievements.

The Secret Sauce of Zappos

When it comes to building a company culture centered around intuition, Tony Hsieh, the former CEO of Zappos, stands out. 

He believed that hiring decisions shouldn’t be based solely on skills and qualifications. Instead, he focused on finding individuals who aligned with the company’s core values. 

Zappos developed a rigorous hiring process where potential candidates went through multiple interviews with different team members to ensure cultural fit. Hsieh’s intuitive approach to hiring paid off in the long run, as Zappos became known for its outstanding customer service and company culture, ultimately leading to its acquisition by Amazon.

Making Million-Dollar Decisions

Intuition isn’t only useful for startups and small businesses; it also plays a significant role in multinational corporations. Herbert Henkel, the former CEO of Ingersoll-Rand, revealed that intuition played a substantial role in his decision-making process. 

Henkel once faced a critical choice between two multimillion-dollar business deals, both of which appeared equally promising on paper. Instead of relying solely on quantitative metrics, he trusted his gut instinct and opted for the deal that he felt would be a better long-term fit for the company. The decision proved to be a resounding success and strengthened the organization’s position in the market.

The power of intuition often goes unnoticed. Yet, as these inspiring stories show, trusting our instincts can lead to extraordinary outcomes. 

The Apple Revelation

During the development of the first Macintosh computer, Steve Jobs had a gut feeling that the computer’s boot-up time was critical to the user experience. Although the engineers insisted that it was already fast enough, Jobs persisted and pushed for a snappier boot-up. His intuition proved correct when, years later, studies showed that a mere two-second reduction in boot time increased customer satisfaction significantly. By trusting his instinct, Jobs forever altered the tech industry’s landscape and taught us that intuition can be the difference between good and great.

How to make the most of Intuition

Complement Intuition with Data

Decision makers should gather relevant data and perform rigorous analysis to support or validate their intuitive insights. This helps to reduce the influence of biases and ensures a more rational approach to decision-making.

Trust but Verify 

While intuition can be valuable, it is essential to test and verify intuitive hunches whenever possible. Setting up experiments or pilot projects can help validate the intuition before implementing a larger-scale decision.

Know the Context

Understand the domain or industry in which you are making decisions. Expert intuition is more likely to be accurate when dealing with familiar territory.

Seek Diverse Perspectives

Encourage diverse perspectives within the decision-making process. Different viewpoints can challenge intuitive assumptions and improve the overall quality of decisions.

Reflections

Decision makers should regularly reflect on the outcomes of their intuitive decisions and learn from both successes and failures. This continuous learning process can help refine and improve intuitive judgment over time.

Embracing intuition in decision-making can help artists, entrepreneurs and dynamic leaders navigate uncertain waters, identify opportunities, and create innovative solutions. Like a musician playing a well-tuned instrument, intuition can be honed through experience and knowledge, making it an invaluable asset.

So, the next time you find yourself at a crossroads, take a moment to listen to your inner voice—it might just be the key to unlocking your business’s full potential. As Malcolm Gladwell would say, sometimes all it takes is a single blink to make the most brilliant decisions.

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