(Read original article below)
by Anne Salisbury, PhD
Executive Update Magazine, Greater Washington, D.C. Society of Association Executives
By training your intuition, you can increase those “gut feelings” to gain clarity of vision that will help you both personally and professionally.
The rapid and increasingly unpredictable change that already characterizes the twenty-first century will require associations to move beyond database management to a culture that pursues informed intuition,” write Glenn Tecker, Kermit Eide, and Jean Frankel on the opening page of their groundbreaking 1997 book, Building a Knowledge-Based Culture: Using Twenty-first Century Work and Decision-Making Systems in Associations. “…When intelligently considered, defensible information is carefully blended with expert and user instincts about the future, and when this combination is consistently expected to be used in making decisions, the organization is operating with informed intuition.”
More broadly, intuition is the act or faculty of knowing immediately, directly, and holistically without the use of reasoning and without being aware of how we know. For centuries it has been referred to as our “sixth sense.” We talk about intuition frequently without realizing it, using words such as “gut feeling” or “instinct.” We might say, “That feels right;” “I just knew it;” “It suddenly hit me;” “Something clicked into place;” or “The solution suddenly became clear.”
Like a growing number of other business industry observers, Tecker and his colleagues reflect the increasingly common belief that the benefits of applied, informed intuition mean it can no longer be considered “hocus-pocus” in the management arena – far from it, in fact. In a recent interview with Executive Update (see Building Brandwidth), branding guru Scott Bedbury acknowledges, “I’ve come to the conclusion that building a brand has more to do with art, more to do with the intangible aspects of running a company, than it does with the science or the tangible processes like finances or production or supply chain operations. It’s a pretty heavy thing to say, but I do believe it. … That’s my problem with business books; they come out of the pre-quantification side. If you do that often enough, you forget what an idea feels like. The best ideas are felt, not measured.”
Bedbury recalls the story of a leader at a major company who had climbed the ranks through the financial side of the business but was very ineffective as a chief officer. “A writer for Business Week summed it up simply by saying, ‘He knew the math in how to run the business, but he didn’t know the music in how to build a brand.’ To me, that’s the heart of the matter. It’s both [intuition and business acumen]. It’s not either/or.”
And Bedbury is not just referring to work-related “hunches.” A well-developed sense of intuition helps you gain clarity of vision in such areas as personal relationships, emotions, and desires. “Most people think of themselves as intuitively blocked,” writes Rosemary Ellen Guiley in her book, Breakthrough Intuition: How to Achieve a Life of Abundance by Listening to the Voice Within. “They unwittingly shut themselves off from a tremendous source of guidance, wisdom, insight, creativity, and healing. … When we allow our intuition to work for us, we are better equipped to make good decisions, for everything from driving a particular route to making career changes to investing our money to involvements with other people.”
We all have intuition. It is an ability we are born with, and it occurs naturally. Just as some of us are born with innate sports or artistic abilities, some of us have easier access to our intuition. Just as we can all improve skills such as golf, so can we practice to improve our intuitive accuracy. The edge that intuitive access gives us can be learned through strategic intuition training or consultations.
According to William Bradley, CEO of W. J. Bradley Company, who has worked with intuition consultants, “My intuition has become an invaluable tool in altering the direction of my company. I have learned to use intuition with a strong dose of faith. As I am becoming more confident, I am moving from faith to trust.”
Barbara Feeney, a district sales leader for Doncaster, has participated not only in intuitive consultations but also in intuition trainings. She adds, “By using intuitive tools this last year, I have gone from the bottom of the barrel – number 65 out of 67 managers – to number two in the nation. When I use my intuition in balance with my logic, days seem to flow effortlessly. When I get out of balance by being too analytical, I encounter obstacles and problems that seem to crop up out of nowhere.”
With increased confidence in their inner voice, people often see improvement in personal and professional relationships, teamwork, planning, sales, and other areas. We are better able to focus, see more options, broaden our awareness, and improve results.
The Four Phases of Intuition
Accessing your intuition can become second nature when you become more aware of the four phases of the intuitive process.
The first phase involves preparation and analysis, and you can easily get stuck here. You use your analytical mind to gather facts and learn about a particular issue or situation. You may keep looking for answers because you feel they are somehow buried in the facts and data. You can become immobilized.
The second phase requires you to let go of the facts for a while and permit your analytical mind to rest. This is vitally important in accessing intuition. You might meditate, take a walk, engage in a favorite sport or pastime, listen to soothing music, or consciously turn your attention to another subject. It is from this state of being open to receiving the answer, rather than pursuing the answer, that your intuitive flash or insight can spring.
You may receive your intuitive insights through a variety of modes – visual images, verbal messages, physical sensations, emotional feelings, or environmental cues – or you may just have an immediate general sense of knowing. One mode of reception is just as valuable as another, and the messages you receive may have meaning only for you. With practice, you may receive insights through other modes as well. For example, you may unexpectedly read a sentence in a book or hear a song that answers a question. You may have a sudden gut feeling or an emotional response to a topic. You may receive an unexpected phone call or feel an immediate overall sense of knowing while in the shower.
Once you receive the insight, you take time again to use your analytical mind and interpret the results. You check to see if the message you received fully solves the problem or answers the question at hand. The process of verifying can be immediate or may continue through time. If you think an intuitive flash is inconclusive, you can return to the beginning of the process with increased knowledge. You simply ask yourself for another insight to verify or clarify the previous message.
In the process of preparing, incubating, receiving, and verifying your insights, you sometimes find that your intuitive faculty is blocked, thereby muddying or distorting your vision. Your mind can be clouded by intrusive thoughts, emotions, or someone else’s influence. Mental stress can be a major component in blocking your intuitive wisdom.
Conscious or unconscious fear also can block you from proceeding through the phases of the intuitive process. Fear keeps you from beginning the process, relaxing fully, and receiving intuitive knowledge. It distorts your interpretation and interrupts implementation of the results.
Finally, negative thinking, as well as wishful thinking, can contaminate your acknowledgment and interpretation. States of mind such as anger, anxiety, fatigue, and depression also can interfere with your awareness of intuitive signals and can pollute your interpretations.
Increasing Your Intuition
Most important in further developing your intuition is the belief that we all have intuition as an innate ability. That belief allows you to best access your intuition. You also must trust that your insights can be valid; this enables you to properly interpret your intuitive flashes. Last, you learn how to minimize the blocks to intuition. Here are some techniques we use to help people navigate the four phases of intuition.
Grounding the Body
This plants your feet firmly on the ground. It allows you to release stress, relax, and be more present with your environment. By becoming “grounded,” you open yourself to the intuitive process. Martial arts experts employ similar grounding techniques.
You can become grounded in different ways. You can go camping, sit in the grass, or relax by the ocean. These methods involve being in a natural environment. The problem is that, due to busy schedules, most of us do not have the opportunity to spend an extended amount of time in nature during our day. If that’s the case, try this simple technique to ground yourself at home or work.
First, sit with your feet on the floor. Relax and let your eyes close. Next, with your imagination, send a cord from the base of your spine down to the center of the Earth. Imagine a ship releasing an anchor to the ocean floor. Just as this stabilizes a ship in the storm, so does your grounding cord keep you centered through a stress-filled day.
Once you are attached from the base of your spine to the center of the Earth, you can use your grounding cord as a conduit that releases stress. Simply command stress or any irritation to fall down the grounding cord; then imagine filling the cleared spaces with bright sunlight, a nourishing element for your body.
Clearing the Mind
Your head often can be filled with mind clutter that can make you feel slightly off-center. By clearing away mental distractions, you can improve your internal vision. You can do this by imagining that you are opening a pathway through your ears, turning on a fan, and blowing out the mind chatter. You then can fill this cleared space with your own pure thoughts. Visualize this as water pouring into your head from a shower spigot. Only when your mind is clear can you receive uncontaminated intuitions.
Owning your Space
Here you give yourself some room. You establish a boundary around yourself like a fence around a valuable piece of property. You try to keep that property as clear as possible.
You allow others to have good fences or boundaries as well. By respecting the spaces surrounding others, you are better able to maintain your own space. By neither invading nor being invaded, you can relax and focus on the intuitive process.
Learning these and other techniques – through related reading, personal intuitive consultations, or group intuition trainings – can immediately affect your personal and professional life. Intuitive tools can help you make decisions more easily and with more confidence. By being grounded, you can be more present and in touch with the issues. By clearing your mind, you can see more clearly and hear yourself think. By owning your own space and respecting that of others, you can let go of stress, relax, and communicate with the people around you. A life aided by well-developed intuition can help ensure that you stay on your own unique path to self-fulfillment and happiness.
Author Link: Anne Salisbury is a psychotherapist and the co-director of Intuitive Advantage, Inc., which offers intuitive consulting and intuition training to business and individuals. She can be reached at (970) 668-8300.
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Original Article: Sharpening Your Sixth Sense as published in Executive Update