Posts Tagged ‘intuition’

4 Ways Intuition Can Help You Make Better Decisions

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Most of the FBI agents I worked alongside for 24 years would dismiss intuition as emotional and irrational. Yet we all relied upon it to make good decisions when confronted with the unknown.

For me, intuition was often sensing the direction of a furtive movement during an arrest, knowing that someone was still alive under rubble, or feeling that there was something awry in a suspect’s answer.

It’s not only FBI agents who need to harness the power of intuition. Investors find the stock market a crapshoot, entrepreneurs are surprised by unexpected advances by the competition, and business leaders can never count on the bottom line.

We have been conditioned to believe that conscious thought is more important than unconscious knowledge.

The rules and principles that guide instinct and intuition are unsophisticated but surprisingly accurate. Gerd Gigerenzer, a psychologist at the Max Plank Institute for Human Development in Berlin, makes an important point in his book “Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of Unconscious” when he argues that instinct and intuition are not impulsive—they have their own brain-based rationale.

Here are 4 ways you can use intuition to make better decisions:

1. NOTICE NAGGING FEELINGS

Start developing your intuition by paying attention to clues in noncritical situations. For example, image that you are talking to another person and they make a “throwaway” statement, something that seems to be an afterthought, maybe adding some additional details for no apparent reason. And yet, everything is for a reason.

Pay attention to what your gut instinct is telling you about your friend’s throwaway statement. It must have meant something or they wouldn’t have mentioned it. Follow up with your friend and ask for clarification; then see how accurate you were in reading your own intuition about the matter. 

Many times we are so intimately familiar with the subject that we fail to notice a new clue. Be diligent and notice the niggling, small things that stick in your mind. That is your unconscious memory trying to bring something to your conscious attention.

How To Make It Work For You: Recall a time when you couldn’t get rid of a nagging feeling about someone or something. In retrospect, what was your unconscious trying to tell you? What did you do about it? Keep track of nagging feelings and notice when, and how, they helped you chose the best response.

2. PURSUE INFORMATION RIGOROUSLY

In my investigations, I had hunches. I couldn’t always explain why I thought pursuing a particular line of questioning would lead to results, but I trusted those instincts and went ahead.

Testing my hunch required a deep dive into the subject and the need to study numerous possibilities. As I continued, my gut instinct told me what was, or wasn’t, important.

Intuition requires you to do the legwork. You can’t sit in an armchair and expect to be enlightened by some mystical wave of understanding. The more you educate yourself about the subject, knowing the right answer becomes more about understanding what information is important and what can be discarded.

How To Make It Work For You: Intuition often shows up as a turmoil or disturbances in our mind. Hold back from making a decision based on these feelings until you’ve vigorously collected all the information you can about each and every “hunch.”

3. TEST YOUR ASSUMPTIONS

While you are holding back from making a decision, use this time to test the assumptions that support your hunches and gut instinct. 

In my investigations, I asked myself how the assumptions I was making about each of my hunches might be wrong. This allowed me to logically look at all possible outcomes without bias. In other words, I didn’t weigh one course of action with more heft than another one.

We run into trouble with intuition when we become so attached to what we think is the right outcome that we dismiss other information that points to another conclusion.

How To Make It Work For You: Remain objective by testing the assumptions that support your intuition. If you’re correct, testing will only confirm you’re on the right path.

4. TRUST YOUR DOUBTS

Intuition that has been noticed (through nagging feelings), fed (by rigorous pursuit of information), and properly vetted (testing assumptions) will ultimately lead to something that is more concrete.

We’ve all experienced the feeling of doubt, apprehension, and even fear when it comes to following our gut.

Acknowledge these feelings because they are ways your subconscious is trying to tell you that something is there. You may not always be in a dangerous situation, but it’s important to notice when, and how, feelings come up so you recognize them when it does matter.

The key in developing intuition so you can make better decisions is to constantly explore and discover why you are experiencing feelings of doubt. You need to make better decisions so you can avoid unfavorable outcomes, but intuition must be followed by action. Otherwise, it remains nothing more than curiosity.

How To Make It Work For You: Intuition fails when it’s loaded with inaccurate information. Its not magical knowledge to be downloaded upon request. Roll up your shirtsleeves, do the work, and use your brain.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

10 Differences Between High Performers And Overachievers

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

As a new FBI agent, I couldn’t wait to work undercover. John le Carre novels and James Bond movies filled my head, so I jumped at chance when the opportunity came up for me to start an undercover operation against foreign spies in the Silicon Valley.

Overachiever

This was my first time out of the gate as an undercover agent and it was exhilarating. It was necessary that I move immediately from idea to action with very little time between thinking and doing. I loved performing and I was good at approaching the targets of my investigation. As a result, I gained attention, made good progress, and received a lot of praise.

Overachievers are high performers. We. Get. It. Done! Whatever the cost. As an overachiever, I know that I can outlast my competition, wear down opposition, and annihilate critics. 

And while we do accomplish our goals, if we don’t get a handle on what is driving us, it can eventually take it’s toll on our health and leave a trail of devastated relationships.

Here are 10 ways you can tamp down your need to be an overachiever and channel your considerable talent and ambition into the longer lasting results of a high performer.

1. Love Yourself As You Love Others

It turns out that there are a fair number of people like me—overachievers who thrive on being successful. In their book, The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Don Riso and Russ Hudson, have this to say about people who are driven to succeed:

“Overachievers fear they will have no value apart from their achievements; they are motivated to perform so they will be loved, accepted, and desirable.”

The idea is to work hard for recognition, to take on leadership roles, and to win. It’s also very important to avoid failure because only winners are worthy of love.

Bill Clinton, Madonna, and John F. Kennedy are famous examples of overachievers.

2. Quiet the Mind that Travels at High Speed

Take time out and allow space for your true emotions to surface. Your emotions are housed in the survival-driven limbic brain system so you “feel” before you “think.” This is why tapping into your gut instinct is so valuable for you as a leader.

Gut thinking is faster than logical thinking. But, until you have mastered gut instinct, give your slower logical, cerebral brain time to process your emotions. 

Taking deep breaths is a good idea, but the reason for breathing is that you’re actually stalling for your logical brain to catch up.

3. Notice When Actions Become Mechanical

Overachievers need to constantly be in motion, and as a result, they are not always leading from their heart. When they aren’t, they lose interest and move on to another project.

High performance leaders stop to reflect and observe before moving on.

 4. Identify When Your Accomplishments Make You Feel More Desirable And Lovable To Others

Stop believing that you’re OK only if others think well of you. Ask whether what you are doing is something that truly has value and meaning for you, or is it just a way to feel valuable and loved?

High performers do not operate from the need to feel valued and loved. They are more interested in building teams and achieving a sense of community in the process.

5. Veer Away From Problems By Introducing New Projects

Stop trying to reframe your failure into a success. Overachievers always look for the winning solution—but high performance leaders look for the optimal solution.

6. Stop Discrediting Sources Of Criticisms

No one is perfect—not even you. 

As Riso and Hudson point out:

Overachievers suffer self-doubt because they believe they need to meet the expectations of others to be accepted. 

As an overachiever, life for you is a competitive struggle; it’s always a question of winning or losing. High performers have the mental toughness to embrace failure because they know they will learn from it.

7. Recognize The Differences Between The Public Self And The Private Self

Differentiate between the image you project and the real person you are. As an overachiever, you are tempted by the trappings of success because they are proof that, “You won the game.” At least this one. 

High performers can listen to their own voice for validation instead of relying on recognition from the outside.

8. Note When You’re Putting On A Show

Stop being a fraud—you’ll love yourself in the morning.

As an overachiever, I could slip on almost any mask and act the part to perfection. The role both protected and motivated me.

High performance leaders are not afraid to be transparent, authentic, and honest.

9. Learn To Tell The Difference Between Doing And Feeling

Shift attention away from the activities surrounding the task to how you feel about the task.

Of all personality types, overachievers have the greatest difficulty perceiving their emotions and understanding their emotions. Instead, they focus on, “Am I successful?”

High performers are mentally tough leaders who are in touch with their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. They know how to manage them in ways that set themselves up for success.

10. Start Meditation

American culture promotes youth, energy, and a competitive life. It can be difficult to create a quiet mind if we’re always running at high speed. 

Do not stress out about this—notice when meditation becomes yet another activity in which you want to excel!

“The toughest thing about success is that you’ve got to keep on being a success.” Irving Berlin

What advice do you have for an overachiever?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

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