Have you ever had that feeling of knowing something yet not knowing how you know it? That feeling goes by many names, such as having a hunch, gut feeling, or even your sixth sense. But at its core, your intuition is an insight held from deep within that has the ability to guide you.
When we are confronted with our intuition, we have a choice to listen or ignore it. I know, personally, I have found that going against my gut is not a wise decision. On the other hand, when I allow myself to be guided by my intuition, I reap the benefits of self-confidence in my career, friendships, and significant decisions in life.
Learning to follow your intuition takes practice. It can feel scary at first, but gradually you will learn to trust that it’s got your back.
Listening To Your Intuition
As a business owner, I’ve probably interviewed over 5,000 people. But in the early years, there’s one candidate that stands alone. My business partner and I were interviewing a gentleman who looked like a great fit! He gave a fantastic interview and had all the credentials and certifications needed to work in our corporate security business. This guy seemed like a great hire.
When the interview was over, my business partner was ready to make an offer. He said, “We need to hire him right now! We need this person in our business!” But something was holding me back.
Don’t get me wrong. I understood my partner’s enthusiasm. I saw the same things in this candidate he did. However, I also couldn’t ignore this feeling inside that something wasn’t right.
Even though, at the time, I couldn’t articulate my hesitation, I asked my partner to give me 24 hours before making a decision. If I could not figure out what my hold back was during that time, we would go ahead and hire him. With this agreement in place, we set a meeting to discuss it again the next day.
What is the lesson here? When your intuition is calling out, listen. Even though I had no logical reason to ask my business partner to hold off on hiring this man, I knew I couldn’t agree to it just yet. Honestly, it would have been easy to talk myself out of listening to that voice. To think, “You’re talking nonsense.” Instead, I not only had a clear mind to heed the warning, but I was brave enough to speak up.
Understanding how to interpret your intuition’s messages takes time and practice. It may initially seem confusing if you aren’t used to tuning into that part of yourself. But with practice, you will learn how to understand the messages and allow them to guide you along your path.
What does it mean to follow your intuition?
There is a strong opinion that emotions have no place in business if you want to be successful. And while emotional maturity is necessary for business owners, teaching yourself to ignore them completely can do you more harm than good. Why? Because intuition is not understood through cognitive reasoning.
When your intuition kicks in, you know it. You seem to have an understanding of a situation, even if you don’t have any evidence or knowledge to back it up. The messages can range from primitive (for survival) to empathetic and even spiritual. Once you receive these messages, they serve as a way to prompt you to take action or make a choice. If you listen to what your intuition says, you’ll discover it has your best interest at heart.
Where does intuition come from?
When you have a moment of intuition, you are actually drawing upon stored, subconscious memories and emotional responses. Everything we experience in our day gets packed away in our brains as short-term and long-term memories. Some of these memories, such as names, birthdays, current events, and places you visit frequently, are easy to access. Other information is stored away as tacit knowledge and never brought into our conscious awareness.
For example, have you ever driven from home to a destination without any recollection of the drive at all? While in the car, you could probably recall the details of a conversation you had with other passengers, a phone call you took, or even that quick text you sent. But the actual drive? Forget it. So how did you make it to your destination safely? Because your brain taps into the tacit knowledge of driving. Instead of requiring your full attention on the task, it guides you there while you spend your awareness on other things.
This is a similar experience when our intuition kicks in. Even though the stored memories are not brought into our awareness, something about a situation accesses our tacit knowledge and subconscious memories. Using these memories, we receive the relevant information pieced together to form the message. So, you can have a “gut feeling” about a situation because your brain has made a judgment call based on subconscious information. The question is, the next time you need to make a decision, are you willing to follow your intuition?
Physical sensations of intuition
Even though intuition is described as a “knowing,” it actually goes beyond that. Since we are conditioned to make decisions using logic first, our intuition knows it needs to get our attention. This is why there are physical sensations to alert you that it’s time to listen. In these moments of understanding, have you ever experienced any of the following?
- Tension or tightening in your body
- “Butterflies” in your stomach or nausea
- Sweating, especially in the palms or feet
- A sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach
- Thoughts that return to a specific event or person
- A sudden moment of clarity
- Feelings of calm or peace after acting under your intuition’s guidance
Recognizing when your intuition is trying to get your attention will go a long way in learning to listen to it. What does your heart say to you? As you turn your ear toward it, you’ll be surprised at how much it has to say.
Putting Your Intuition To The Test
So, how did following my intuition turn out? Was I right to listen, or did I look like a fool in front of my business partner?
Well, the next day, less than 24 hours later, I still hadn’t pinpointed my hesitation. As I said, this man was exactly what you would want on paper. He came with the necessary credentials, gave a great interview, and everything seemed perfect. But my intuition kept telling me something wasn’t right. He was not meant for our business.
That afternoon, my business partner called me up. He said, “Kimberley, I have to tell you something. You know that guy we interviewed yesterday? He was just arrested for domestic violence and kidnapping.”
There it was! My intuition picked up on the parts of his character that he kept hidden. A person that we thought would have been good for the company, it turns out, would have been a disastrous choice to make. But by listening to the messages I received, I was able to protect my business and find someone who was a better fit for the job.
Part of being a business owner means having to make decisions. Do you notice when your intuition is driving you down a different path? What happens when you hear it and disagree with it? Since we are bombarded by so much stimuli every day, it can start to feel like everything has to happen NOW! In reality, almost every decision you make (except for emergency situations) can wait.
So, the next time your intuition calls out to you, I invite you to stop and step away. Allow yourself 24 hours to figure it out. Giving yourself 24 hours is usually enough time to reflect on the situation and gain a better perspective. If you are still wrestling with the decision, get help from someone you trust, such as a coach or mentor. They can help guide you through the uncertainty and into clarity.
Trusting Your Gut For A Thriving Business
Understanding what your instincts tell you will take you far. Take time to journal your experiences and experiment as you grow. Above all, trust yourself because you are the only one who knows what is right for you and your business.