To start of it’s probably best to describe this mysterious word. I for one knew about intuition but I never really grasped what it was – how does one explain it? I mean if you had to explain intuition to a foreign being from outer space, what would you say? That it’s a gut feeling?
What is Intuition?
Short and simple the dictionary describes it as “A sense we have without the use of a rational process, a perspective insight.” So you’re not wrong when you say it’s a gut feeling, in fact the word intuition is derived from the Latin word “Intuir” which directly translates to “knowledge from within” imagine that!
Self-respecting scientist actually tried to stay away from intuition on penalty of being accused of engaging in New Age “woo-woo” rather than serious science.
Massimo Pigliucci says that scientists think of intuition as a set of none conscious and cognitive processes “it’s never based on deliberate thinking. Rational thinking on the other hand is analytical and it requires effort”
Pigliucci also says that there is no such thing as an intuitive person, it’s specifically a domain. For instance; you can be very intuitive when it comes to practicing medicine or playing chess but you can also be completely clueless when it comes to the next thing.
Intuition gets better with practice
I’m actually also fond of the idea that the more you expose yourself to certain things the faster you’ll pick up the tools of the trade. “You can pick up a lot of recurring patterns – the more you’re exposed to a particular domain the more familiar we become with the relevant patterns.”
So when you use your intuition you become an expert at what you do (or simply much, much better)
Intuition and decision making.
William Duggan, a Columbia business school professor believes that there are three types of intuition.
Ordinary: Which basically refers to the instinctive side of you – when you’re hungry you eat, when you’re thirsty you drink.
Expert: A snap judgement when you recognise something familiar – The way a professional tennis player knows where and how the ball will hit the court from the arc and speed from their opponent’s racket. It’s always fast and it always works in familiar situations.
Strategic: A clear thought, it can even be a flash of insight. It’s usually slow and pops up in new situations – for when you need your best ideas.
Now you know (how it can save you)
Be it familiar, foreign or a flash of insight we’ve all had first-hand experience with intuition and the consequences that follow when we ignore it.
Kim Chestney writer for elephantjournal.com wrote an entry about her husband’s motorcycle accident. If he had listened to his “gut feeling” it could have been avoided. Getting on his bike, his inner voice says that he should maybe check the bike before he goes for a ride, while her husband says “It’s cool. I’m sure it’s nothing. It is a perfect night to ride. What’s the worst that could happen?” Well according to her, the hospital happened (along with a few broken ribs) so it could have been worse, “But, it could have not happened at all if he had followed his Intuition”
Chestney’s husband was familiar with the bikes nooks and dings; he uses it every day so he knows how it should function. When he switched it on intuition told him “No” but he said “yes”
It can lead you to bigger, better and greater things.
Some of the top historic moments in life involved incredible people using their intuition. Sir Isaac Newton has a sudden flash of insight that leads to his theory of gravity. Einstein’s intuition leads to the concept of his Theory of Relativity and then discovers the science to prove it. Joan of Arc wins the battles that lead the French to victory by simply acting on her gut feeling and then of course Steve Jobs shows the world technology at its finest when it is married with Intuition.
Listen to the little whisper in your head, you’re not going crazy, it’s real. It can take you places and help you avoid the areas you should keep out away from.
“The only real valuable thing is intuition.” Albert Einstein.