Habits Of People Who Trust Their Intuition [Infographic]

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Habits of People Who Trust Their Intuition

50% of Americans trust their gut to tell them what’s true, and 62% of business executives often rely on gut feelings—is intuition the key to making the right decisions?

Levels of Thought

  • Instinct
    • An innate inclination toward a particular behavior in response to a certain stimulus
    • Hardwired in the body from birth (feed from mother, run from danger, etc.)
  • Intuition, or “gut feeling”
    • A natural, thoughtless process that requires no analysis or deep thinking
    • Unconsciously developed over time from patterns in our experiences and beliefs
  • Analytical thinking
    • Intentional, organized, conscious thoughts
    • Used to find the best or most accurate solution to a problem

We’re Conditioned to Ignore Our Intuition

  • “Don’t be emotional”
  • “Just look at the facts”
  • “Weigh all your options”
    • Intuition can be trained out of children if they are…
      • Forced to hug adults they don’t know or trust
      • Never given leisure time to explore their own mind or interests
      • Told that adults are always right
    • People can be intuition-stunted if they…
      • Never learn to trust themselves or others
  • Live in fear of danger or abuse
  • Fail to grow emotionally

“I’ve trusted the still, small voice of intuition my entire life. And the only time I’ve made mistakes is when I didn’t listen.” – Oprah Winfrey, August 2011 issue of O: The Oprah Magazine

How Intuition Works

  • Faster than the thinking mind
      • Study: Subjects were asked to choose between four decks of cards to gamble with, two that turned up consistent profits and two that were riskier
        • The body figured it out: After drawing…
          • 10 risky cards: Subjects displayed physical signs of anxiety
        • The intuitive mind figured it out: After drawing…
          • 50 risky cards: Subjects chose to switch to safer decks
        • The conscious mind figured it out: After drawing…
          • 80 risky cards: Subjects could explain why they switched
  • Possibly more reliable than the thinking mind
    • Study: German and U.S. students were asked which city was larger: Detroit or Milwaukee
      • German students just picked the one they’d heard about most: 90% correct
      • U.S. students overthought their answer: 60% correct

Women’s Intuition: Women make more successful intuitive decisions

  • Female ancestors
      • Needed to ensure not only their own survival, but also their children’s
  • Female brains
    • Evolved with a stronger ability to organize environmental information and read nonverbal cues in others

Historical Intuition

  • 44 BCE: Calpurnia, wife of Julius Caesar, dreams of her husband’s assassination and urges him not to go to the senate, where he goes anyway and is killed
    • It’s not magic: Calpurnia was unconsciously reacting to the tensions and signs of political dissent brewing in the Roman Empire
  • 1936: On a hunch, automobile tycoon Charles Howard purchases an underweight colt named Seabiscuit, who goes on to become one of the greatest racehorses in history
    • It’s not magic: Howard’s business savvy and military cavalry training gave him the experience to recognize a gifted horse and a sound financial bet
  • 1962: After being rejected by dozens of publishers, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time is picked up by John Farrar of Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, which had not published children’s books before
    • It might be magic: “Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition.” – Madeleine L’Engle

Use Your Intuition to Your Best Advantage

  • How to Listen to Your Intuition
      • Notice your body’s reactions (changes in heartbeat, breathing, muscle tension)
      • Understand that your intuition wants whatever you value most (happiness, health, prosperity)
        • Your intuition could be signaling that even though a decision seems logical, it won’t bring you closer to your core goals
  • How to Balance Intuition and Logic
  • Sort your assumptions and made-up expectations from facts and evidence
    • Ask yourself if you have prejudices that might be getting in the way
      • Intuition is informed by what you’ve learned from previous experiences, but history doesn’t always repeat itself

“Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking” – Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

  • Intuition and Business: Supplementing your instincts with structure and management
  • Follow your intuition when
    • Working in rapidly changing, high-stakes environments
    • Performing tasks you have done many times before
    • Brainstorming or discussing business with partners or coworkers
  • Follow your head when
    • Working under public or regulatory scrutiny
    • Doing something you have never done before
    • Hiring new talent or delegating work to employees

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Commencement speech

Your intuition might just be trying to tell you how to make better decisions—are you ready to listen?