Cultivating your observational skills and listening to your gut is key to honing your intuition. Today Michelle Dixon shares her best tips for developing and using intuition to make your business better.
Wouldn’t it be handy to switch on your inner psychic so that you might anticipate the best decisions for your business, rather than trying to see two steps ahead and tripping up along the way?
While you can’t predict the future entirely, you can enlist your intuition to make the road ahead smoother.
What is intuition anyway?
Being intuitive is something that’s within everyone’s reach.
Partly, it’s pattern recognition. Your brain is highly capable of making all kinds of observations, even very minute ones, and piecing them together in a way that informs your body how to respond.
Once your body responds, it’s up to you to interpret what the sensations, feelings, or images mean. Examples include breaking out in sweat, butterflies in the belly, a sense of constriction or opening in the chest, sudden smells, and intrusive recurring thoughts or images, to name but a few.
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Still, it takes time and skill to hear your body, and interpret its message correctly.
It begins with working out how your body communicates to you in common scenarios.
To do this, spend some time ‘feeling into’ times past with a pen and paper in hand. Take notes as you do the suggested exercises below, without analysing too much.
First, think of someone who has turned out to be not a good business partner, employee or colleague, OR think of a business choice that was in retrospect not a good one. What do you notice in your body when you think about this? What about when you met this person or first made this ‘bad’ decision (before you knew the outcome)? Was there a feeling in the body, an image, a nagging, a sense of constriction in the chest, or openness?
Now think of a positive example—a person or choice which ended up contributing a lot to your business. Jot down all the reactions you had when you met this person or made that choice. Later, read it all through and make a note of the commonalities!
Now you are on the path to better understanding how your body knows what your brain might not yet rationally understand.
Next, you need to understand resistance (yours).
Let’s face it; enthusiasm usually communicates that we are on the right track. Resistance is a trickier beast.
Resistance sometimes means we are avoiding something that is challenging, even when the challenge in question offers us an opportunity for growth. Resistance can also be our intuition trying to stop us from making a decision we will regret, or which is of no use.
How to determine which it is?
First, revisit how your body communicates, and apply that to your resistance.
Next, think of a time when you resisted something, but pushed through and you were grateful that you did – how was that resistance the same or different to your current experience?
An example: Not long ago I was faced with the prospect of cold calling, which I avoided for weeks. Maybe, I thought, I was just too introverted and needed to push past it. But I sat with my resistance and recognised the same ‘dead end’ feeling that I’d had when I tried an earlier strategy that utterly failed. My chest felt tight and stuck, and my thoughts were all in my brain. When I thought about choosing successful past strategies, I felt that thinking from my gut. I decided not to cold call. No sooner had I had this realisation then the phone started ringing with genuine, personal referrals that I would never have gotten from a list of names on a spreadsheet.
When your intuition is not reliable
It goes without saying that you should apply the strategies above before you make big decisions, but there are times when your intuition is compromised. The number one reason is stress and overwhelm. When your body is in high cortisol production mode, (e.g. stress), your entire neurological system is geared towards survival, not growth. In survival mode, your body does not communicate normally, so practise self-care, and delay decisions.
In a similar vein, if you are a particularly inflexible personality type, prone to believing your way is the only way until proven otherwise, then your natural capacity to hear your inner voice is compromised. Being open-minded is key to intuition, as recognising patterns and bodily responses requires stepping out of an “I should” mentality and into the possibility of “there might be another way…”
Practice makes perfect!
Cultivating intuition is a habit that, like anything else, requires time and practice. The more you learn to listen, the more you’re able to hear it.
Have you ever tuned into your intuition and made a great choice? What about the reverse?