Go with Your Gut: How to Use Intuition to Succeed

July 22, 2022

Go with Your Gut: How to Use Intuition to Succeed

“Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect.” – Steve Jobs

When you are just starting out in your business venture, relying on empirical data to drive all your business decisions is normal. Leaders feel safe to let numbers guide their business onwards. But as you gain more experience over the years, meet new people, try out new things, and experience some setbacks, you begin to build your intuition.

Broadly speaking, intuition involves “learned responses that are not the outcomes of deliberate processes” (Hogarth, 2010). Over time, as we build our experiences and become aware of who we are and what our goals (personal and professional) are, our intuition gets sharpened with them.

Humans pride themselves on using reason over instinct. But we cannot fully disregard instinct as it is an integral part of who we are and it is what protects us when reason can’t. Intuition is the bridge that closes the gap between reason and instinct, and it is useful when you need to make fast yet informed decisions in business and life.

“Often you have to rely on intuition.” – Bill Gates

Our minds work tirelessly 24/7, even while we are sleeping. Scientific studies show that our brains continue to process information we gain throughout the day while we sleep. Conscious thinking is limited in capacity and speed, but the processes behind it–sorting, storing, deleting, and integrating information–are done continuously and subconsciously.

If we rely only on rational thinking, we might be missing something that our conscious thought process is too slow to notice, but our subconscious mind has already picked up on based on years of previous experience stored in the ever-active recesses of our brains.

As Abraham Hicks said, “When something feels off, it [usually] is.” That right there is our intuition talking. And you’ll benefit from listening to it.

Sometimes, as leaders, we need to make snap decisions based on the limited information we have. Yes, waiting for more data might help you make sounder and better decisions, but what if you don’t have the luxury of waiting? Do you remain undecided? That’s when going with your gut becomes beneficial to success.

While intuition occurs in your day-to-day life, it is sometimes most apparent in the decisions of experts. The specialist draws on years of experience, held in unconscious frameworks, to make fast, high-quality decisions (Nalliah, 2016).

Is it a logical process? No. Is it something that you can break down easily and explain to others? Not either. But is it reliable? Yes. While it feels instinctual, intuition is deep-seated in knowledge that you’ve been practicing for years.

It is similar to walking. When you are beginning to learn the ropes, you might have to think about the process: right foot forward, left foot next. But as you continue doing it, it becomes so deeply ingrained in your mind and body that you no longer think about how to walk.

Sometimes, we need that kind of instinct in decision-making.

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs

When was the last time you trusted your gut in business? Has it failed you when you needed it the most?

I’m not saying throw away your rational decision-making. What I want is for you to reflect: Have you been neglecting your heart when making decisions for your business?

The pressure to make the right choices and guide the team with the correct strategies stems from the fear of failing, because mistakes usually mean losing something in a business setting. It could be losing money, clients, employees, or trust. But as leaders, we need to be prepared to fail to some extent.

There is no such thing as a perfectly-run business. There are businesses that succeed because you were well-prepared, well-informed, and aligned with your goals. There are also businesses that prospered because of luck. Intuitive leaders succeed at both.

How can you sharpen your intuition, then? It is by being still and reflecting on yourself. Are your strategies and decisions aligned with your goals and your values? Is my team still going towards our goal? Go back to your source, your intuition wells out of it. That is why self-reflection is important.

Let your intuition guide you towards the more human aspects of your business. What do your clients want? How will the market respond to your new product? What does society need right now that my business can provide?

These are just some of the questions your intuition can answer, if you stay still long enough to hear it.

Trust your gut, and thank you for reading A Brilliant Tribe.