Following Your Intuition ...

Making decisions in the blink of an eye


While  waiting for an appointment yesterday, I picked up a book in the waiting room. It  was entitled "Blink:  The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" by Malcolm Gladwell. I was  thoroughly engrossed by the time the woman I was meeting with showed up, and had  to tear myself away. The premise of the book was that we have the ability to  make instant decisions "in the blink of an eye" that are good, accurate, and  valid ... based on information that we're not conscious that we've collected and  processed. The idea caught my attention, and meshed well with the things that  percolated in my head while away on vacation last week ... about living fully in  the present, rather than planning, plotting, or worrying about the future for  much of my day.


Do you make  instant decisions? Live fully in the moment? Use your intuition? I use intuition  a lot in my coaching, and the more I run with it, the better the session  turns out. Instant reactions to a client's expression, asking crazy questions,  pushing buttons that I suspect might be hiding underneath the surface ... it's  all the same. How many times have you had a gut reaction to something, stopped  and analyzed it, researched it, and come to a different conclusion, only to  regret the second choice down the road? Last year I had a painful reminder of  that while dining at a restaurant. I ordered a seared sashimi tuna salad, and  after one bite of tuna I instinctively knew something wasn’t quite right. It  didn’t taste bad, but everything in me rejected it. I forced it all down anyway,  telling myself it tasted and looked fine ... and ended up with the most horrible  case of food poisoning I’ve ever had in my life. I won’t ignore that  hunch again!

What is  intuition anyway? The dictionary  calls it “The act or faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of  rational processes; immediate cognition.” That hunch or gut feeling that  says “I know the way to go here, but have no idea why.” The more I live fully  in the moment, and give people and situations and environments my  complete and undivided attention, the better my intuition works. It’s like we  have antennae we’re not aware of, constantly gathering information and filing it  away for future reference. Our brains are able to process things far faster than  we realize, and we act on those stored ideas before we’re even aware we had  them.

Blink.  (Stop. Close down. Reopen, refreshed.)

To address  the other side of the coin, what happens when that hunch turns out to be a bad  one? It happens ... you’re sure but then it doesn’t turn out so well.  What gives? We all have certain default beliefs and actions that get in the way  at times ... they’re not rational, consciously or unconsciously, but we still  hold them close to our hearts. Sometimes those ideas cloud our more fluid  decisions, and turn us away from what we instinctively know to be good. In my  food poisoning example, I believed that I’d be teased for avoiding raw fish,  (after other guests had already made “I can’t believe you eat that” comments  about it), and I (irrationally) decided that forcing it down was more important  than a teasing comment or two ... resulting in a truly painful ‘gut’ reaction!  Keep an eye out for your defaults, and flag them when they trip you up. They CAN  be changed!

Blink.  Stay aware, stay open, be fully present. What's your gut reaction? Run with  it!