Have you ever had an intuition about a person or a situation? When the thought came to you, did you file it away or brush it aside? Later on, did it prove to be true?
Many brilliant business ideas have been based on someone's intuition. When Fred Smith was in college, he wrote a paper for an economics class about his idea for an overnight delivery service. He got a “C" for the paper, but that didn't bother him. His gut told him his idea would work, and several years later he started Federal Express.
It's believed that some people have more intense intuition than others. It's also believed to be possible to hone your own intuitive skills.
Howard Gardner, a Harvard professor and psychologist, says that practicing your intuition is important to honing intuitive skills. "Gut instinct is basically a form of pattern recognition. The more you practice, the more patterns you intuitively recognize. List decisions you've made that turned out right (and mistakes, too). Then reconstruct the thinking patterns. Where did intuition come in? Was it right or wrong? Are there patterns? Highly intuitive people often let themselves be talked out of good ideas. "
For some, their intuition usually revolves around people. For others, it involves situations. If you're uncertain about the accuracy of your gut instinct, write it down when it occurs to you.
For intuitions about people, write down your first impression of them. Check for accuracy later. For intuitions about situations, write those down as well, including the date. Occasionally review what you've written about those situations, and if something has changed, write that down with the date. Review these from time to time to see how accurate your instinct appears to be.
As thoughts come to you, take a few quiet minutes to think and write. If the thoughts come at a busy time, jot a few words down (or speak them into a tape recorder) to write out in more detail later.
A few years ago I attended a local coaches’ group, and the topic one evening was "our coaching intuition". The leader for that meeting told us a few brief facts about one of his clients: her name, the state where she lives, and one or two more general facts. Then he asked us to quietly think about what else was going on in her life. After a minute, he asked for comments. About four people spoke up, saying things such as, “There is an illness in her family that she is dealing with, " and “She really doesn't like her job, " and “She's working a lot of hours, " and “There is conflict between her and someone close to her", and “She doesn't have enough free time. " The man who is her coach said that all of those things were true.
At first I thought, “How did these people know or figure out all of these things?" As soon at that thought crossed my mind, a new, intuitive thought took its place: “She's bored. " And then the thought continued, “Even though she has so much going on in her life, she's bored. And she's surprised that she's bored. " I spoke these words to her coach, and he agreed that she is quite bored.
A keen intuition is a mark of a good coach. We're not the only profession, however, who can greatly use intuitive skills. Just about any business person can benefit from a keen intuition. This is a great skill for anyone to utilize.
Start with the suggestions in this article for practicing using your intuition. Hone your skill over time. With some focused attention, you will learn to trust your gut instinct more and to take action on your instincts sooner.
© 2006 Borgeson Consulting, Inc.
Glory Borgeson is a business coach and consultant, and the president of Borgeson Consulting, Inc. She specializes in helping small business owners (of 500 employees or less) to increase their Entrepreneurial IQ, which leads to increased profit and decreased stress. Whether an entrepreneur is at the top of his game like any top athletes you can think of today, or a rookie just starting his business, Glory works with the entire spectrum of entrepreneur. Top athletes have a coach; why not you?
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