• Are you the one who despises intuition, or are you the one who respects it?
  • Are you the one who thinks intuition is a word coined to cover the criterion-free and otherwise arbitrary decisions?
  • Are you the one who neglects the power of intuition in favor of a rational thought? The thought can be explained in the end, right?
  • Or, on the contrary, are you the one who believes that intuition is a mystical revelation for a chosen few?

Nothing more wrong than any of the above.

Intuition is not more than you think it is. It is much more! Much, much more.

Let me explain.

Are you the one who dwells in analysis? If so, perhaps you don’t pay sufficient respect to intuition. Perhaps you think intuition is run by emotional triggers, or it is a woo-woo phenomenon of emotionally unbalanced people. While it is true that

  • intuition may lead you astray (when undeveloped), and
  • it does not follow a rational conclusion of a detailed analysis,

intuition offers a unique approach to a more effective and satisfying living. And this is good enough to start using it.

Intuition is available to you and me at any time. It is not a magical power offered to a few individuals. It is a skill of a conscious person.

Intuition is a point of inner knowing, your inner knowing that happens now, in this very moment. Intuition is a creative workshop, a meeting place in which your consciousness is an artist who creates a new insight by blending knowledge, perception and feelings. It  is a new phenomenon arising by a higher level combination of a rational thought and emotion. In an active process of knowing.

This intuitive act is about delivering something new, similarly as you create a new color, green, by mixing blue and yellow in proportion, or as hydrogen and oxygen molecules are connected to create water. Such combinations have qualities that are way beyond the qualities of the ingredients themselves.

Key understanding

Being more practical: the idea behind intuition is threefold.

  1. First, it is your powerful subconscious mind that is able to process an amazing amount of information and read your senses and emotions. All without you being able to describe it.
  2. Secondly, it heavily relies on the non-verbalized tacit knowledge. It is the know-how that is built by experience and your own understanding and models of these experiences.
  3. Thirdly, there is a conscious spark. Call it imagination, inspiration, God’s guidance or wisdom in a moment. It is the spark, the joyful observer in you that combines the tacit knowledge and emotion into an insight.

So, the key understanding is this. Intuition is largely about … pattern recognition.

Yes, indeed. Intuition relies on a sophisticated pattern recognition system thanks to which you are able to evaluate both external and internal cues, perceive non-verbalized unspoken information, recognize patterns, discriminate between typicalities and anomalies and draw a conclusion in an instant.

Consequently, your intuition is usually lame when you enter a new field or encounter a new idea. It develops with learning, experience and reflection. What is means is that intuition can be trained.  It is great news, isn’t it? Because you can take a conscious effort in developing it.

Developing intuition

As any pattern recognition system intuition can be trained by examples. These are events, learning points and experiences. What you need are examples of standard situations and examples of outliers, atypical cases or anomalies. And as explained in the posts about learning accurate concepts and generalization, you need many more outliers and atypical examples than the typical ones in order to refine your concepts well. Your exposure to a variety of cases, analyzed or experienced, forms your data. Your inner understanding and the building of mental models are your generalizations.

Hence, the richer and wilder the experience and the better the understanding, the greatest your intuition (can be). And the other way around. The poorer your experience, the worse your intuition.

In other words: intuition sucks when you have not laid your foundation well: the data of experiences and the learned generalizations from  your reflection. So, yes, intuition may lead you to poor choices in the beginning, but it greatly improves with experience. With training, it leads to effective and fast choices. And of a high quality.

Intuition heavily relies on spotting the patterns and an instantaneous evaluation of such internal and external cues. It communicates with you with a bodily emotion, such as the feeling of “this is right” or “this is to be done”. How you feel it in your body is your personal experience. You may simply know the answer or direction, imagine it, hear it or even sense it. You may have a gut feeling about it. You may feel expansion in your body or a feeling of congruence.

How do you recognize that the feeling comes from your intuition? You recognize it because it guides you toward knowing in a moment and being in integrity with yourself. There is no fear, no rush but a state of calmness in which you clearly see, sense or know what to choose. It takes practice to tell the difference between intuition and other contributions such as ego, rational mind or emotional mind.

The only way to learn is by following intuition (or what it seems as intuition), see the results and learn from feedback. You need to trust.

Experts rely on intuition

Experts collect and ensemble patterns to quickly make sense of what is happening. Note that these patterns are not facts, neither rules, nor procedures. They are constructs built from knowledge, abstract prototypes and intuits derived from all the experiences the experts have lived through and heard about.

Professionals in any field rely on intuition. While standard situations can usually be covered by a set of procedures and rules, any deviation from the typicality asks for much more. And this is an every day experience for all of us. What we learn from leaflets, protocols and books has to be evaluated and refined by experience. Oftentimes, there is a gap between theory (written knowledge) and practice. Practice and experience lead to the development of your personal inner knowing.

And this is what makes the difference between mediocre and passionate. Between average and professional. Between boring and interesting. It is the use of intuition. As simple as that.

The learning point

In summary, what you need to understand is that an intuitive act happens in a given moment. It draws from learned concepts, generalizations and experiences. It is where your rational thinking and detailed analysis serve their roles – to form the mental models. Once these models are formed, they provide a model base for an intuition to act. Perception, senses and the emotional feeling provide the ‘green’ light  for the direction to choose. This intuitive knowing is painted in a moment from learned experience, recognized patterns and your feeling and judgement about the situation.

The good news is this. Your intuition is fed by experience, reflection and understanding. The richer your experience in a given subject, the better your intuition can be. The more you apply it, the stronger it becomes.

In the chaos and floods of information, intuition is not merely a tool. It becomes a necessity for making informative decisions and living your life fully.

Don’t let it slip your attention.

Your intuition is at work. Train it. Test it. Master it.


The image above is by my friend David.

Categories: DecisionsLearningPattern recognitionPatternsPerformance

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