“What women will do is take a leap of faith and listen to their intuition even when it doesn’t measure up against logic, and that is powerful in business. “Barbara Corcoran
Recently, I was invited to give a talk at a conference for women. Many topics came to mind, from branding to sisterhood, but one stuck: the concept of women’s intuition.
What exactly is intuition? Intuition is the ability to collect and decode nonverbal cues in persons and the environment. It is referred to as many things: gut instinct, inner voice, God-voice, Espiritu Santos, discernment, or using the “heart.” With that said, biologically, the human brain provides a scientific explanation.
The portion of the brain called the neocortex is responsible for rational, analytical thought. It reasons, analyzes and formulates language. The Limbic brain, however, is responsible for feelings, human behavior, decision making and has no ability for speech. The Limbic Brain is where instinctual, intuitive, and gut decisions are made.
Most women will tell you that they have an innate ability to discern things and people around them: danger, safety, paramours, friends, lies, truth, ill will, and good intentions. It’s a no-brainer for us. We know beyond knowing, see beyond seeing and hear beyond hearing, in a lot of cases.
People are often encouraged- and sometimes forced- to dismiss and ignore their gut instinct and lean on facts-based logic and reasoning. In the process, they disregard one of their most powerful resources we as humans have- the God-given gift that lies within them to “know.”
While intuition, or discernment, is regarded by many as a weaker form of reasoning, it, in fact, is a far more superior one. Tamir Pardo, the head of Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, lauded his female agents for this natural instinct. He is quoted as saying, “Women are gifted at deciphering situations. Contrary to stereotypes, you see that women’s abilities are superior to men in terms of understanding the territory, reading situations, spatial awareness. When they’re good, they’re very good.”
Although most women don’t have the formal training of former CIA Operative, Lindsay Moran, there is a commonality. Moran, as a clandestine officer, trained in everything you could imagine: paramilitary exercises, weapons training, mock ambushes, tactical driving, foreign languages. While a portion of her work was tactical in nature and based on facts and research, a great deal involved the ability to rely on instinct to assess people, environments, and situations to complete significant and dangerous assignments.
In her interview with The Telegraph, a national British Daily newspaper, Moran praised female colleagues for their natural ability to read people, surveillance detection and situational awareness.
“Situational awareness is something, I feel like, women have been honing their whole lives,” Moran said in her statement. “…This ability to care for other people, to listen to them, to figure out what motivates them, and what makes them tick is something that I found came very naturally to me as a woman- and to my female colleagues at the agency.”
How can you begin to harness the power of your God-given intuition within you for business and life? You probably already are, but if not, below are a few tips.
1. Hear It
Paying attention to your gut instinct requires you to acknowledge what you are hearing, sensing, and perceiving. We’ve all been in a conversation where we knew that the other party was lying. Even if we couldn’t explain it, we knew. How about being able to say with certainty, “I’ll bet XYZ is going to happen….” or the feeling that something just isn’t right. You might not be able to explain it or quantify it, but listening is the first step.
2. Trust It
Successful leaders trust intuition as much as intellect.
“What women will do is take a leap of faith and listen to their intuition even when it doesn’t measure up against logic, and that is powerful in business. -Barbara Corcoran
Trust your gut. It never lies. Don’t second guess.
3. Use It
In the world of fitness, you’ll often hear the word repetition. Fitness experts will tell you that the frequency of exercise as well as the number of repetitions within routine will determine how quickly you see results. The same with exercising discernment to make decisions. Trusting your gut is like working out. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes.
4. Log It
There may be times that you’re not confident enough to make a decision base on your intuition alone. In those cases, write it down. Journal what you feel, sense, think, and know- time and date it. Chances are you’ll be able to look back and see that you were right and just how right you were.
I can tell you that the God-voice within me has never led me wrong. I’ve seen, known and, sometimes, not wanted to believe what my gut was telling me. Anytime I’ve ignored it, I’ve regretted it. When I’ve trusted it, I have had cause to celebrate.
5. Validate It in Others
In a logic and reason-based world, making gut decisions may not always be the most popular method of decision making. In fact, it may go against the grain. When you find others making a decision based on a hunch or a gut feeling, support them for their courage. Doing so will create an environment where making such determinations is valued.
To read more on the power of instinct, check out the following reads:
Leadership Beyond Reason: How Great Leaders Succeed by Harnessing the Power of Their Values, Feelings, and Intuition by Dr. John Townsend
Leading from Your Gut: How You Can Succeed by Harnessing the Power of Your Values, Feelings, and Intuition by Dr John Townsend