July 1998 - Developing and Using Intuition
What is Intuition?
Intuition is the inherent ability to connect with our "inner self." Our inner self (or "higher self") is that part of us that knows everything we need to know and helps guide us through our existence in the physical world.
Successful business people are often described as having a "sixth sense," "gut feel" or an "intuitive" feeling about their business, career, industry trends or stock market trends. What is it that makes them so successful? Usually, they have consciously strengthened their natural intuitive abilities and learned to make those abilities work for them in the business world.
Intuition can take many forms:
Western society has trained many of us to ignore our natural intuitive abilities by focusing only on the use of reasoning and logic. That training must be undone or loosened in order to remember our natural intuitive abilities. Reasoning and logic are even more valuable when combined with intuitive skills.
The most common methods for learning to use our intuition are known as "meditation techniques." These can take many different forms, such as: sitting by a waterfall or stream, staring into a campfire, watching a candle flame, listening to inspiring music, watching the ocean, staring at the stars, guided visualization, exercise, yoga, Tai Chi, dance, prayer, chanting, sitting under a tree, feeling a soft breeze, listening to a bird sing, taking a shower, listening to a shaman's drum, smelling a flower, watching a child play, writing in a personal journal, and many more.
The purpose of meditative techniques is simply to quiet our mind's chatter enough to hear our own inner voice. For example, when we relax and listen to a bird sing, we may suddenly realize the solution to a problem that has been nagging at us.
Many people have experienced intuition yet are not confident of its value or their own ability to use it. By paying more attention and consciously learning to quiet our thought process, we can tap into our inner self and learn how to use it to help us every day.
A key fact to remember: within our own sub-conscious, we all have the ability to lead our lives successfully. We do know the answers to our questions. Our challenge is to learn to further develop the ability to reach into ourselves for those answers and learn to recognize them for what they are. This takes awareness, practice, time and discipline.
Using Dreams for Short-term Solutions
Many people have experienced going to bed with a problem and waking up with the solution.
To use this method consciously, follow these steps when faced with a decision, challenge or dilemma:
Using Dreams for Long-term Solutions
The process for resolving long-term issues (career issues, relationships challenges, business concerns) is similar yet different in key ways.
Other Books and Resources
Laura Day, author of Practical Intuition and Practical Intuition for Success, suggests that developing intuition requires 7 steps:
You may have noticed that the number 7 keeps reappearing and is often associated with "lucky" numbers and spiritual endeavors. The short reason for this is that 7 contains the basic mathematical elements of 3 (triangle) and 4 (square), universal symbols of balance. Therefore, for those interested in number symbols, 7 stands for balance and wholeness.
Laura Day defines intuition as "knowing without knowing why you know." Intuition may also be called subconscious, prophetic or instinctive. When describing computer software, people often say it is "intuitive," meaning "easily understood." This book is filled with practical and easy to understand exercises to help people develop and work with their intuition.
Another recent book, The Corporate Mystic, describes mystics as those "who intuitively comprehend what is true." Corporate mystics are those "who seem to operate at a level of effectiveness that appears esoteric" until you understand the principles they are drawing on. The Corporate Mystics described in the book have a strong connection with their intuition and know how to use it where it counts. . . .who operate from a base of integrity, pursue their visions with passion and compassion, and evoke the full potential of those with whom they come in contact.
How to Recognize a Corporate Mystic (12 characteristics they share):
This book also provides practical exercises and instructions for developing those traits common to Corporate Mystics, and includes 7 Rules for Business Success (notice that 7 again!)
Barrie Dolnick, author of The Executive Mystic, goes even farther in her new book to provide instructions for using "psychic power tools for success." Like the previous two books mentioned, this one is filled with easy-to-use exercises and charts to help people learn how to further develop intuitive skills.
She provides many examples of how the use of intuition can help achieve even more success.
I have everything I ever wanted, house, cars, clothes, money, relationship: but I still feel like something is missing! Sound familiar? There are thousands of people looking for something intangible, but they intuitively know it is there. Typically, they are looking outside themselves for the elusive treasures of happiness, but it seems to slip away so quickly, even after a great worldly success.
We are raised and fed on the belief that worldly success will bring us happiness. We strive to excel at work, find the "perfect" mate, and raise bright and healthy children. We obtain our goals and yet, there often still remains a feeling of emptiness, a sense that something is missing. This empty space is a signal that it is time to attend to the inner needs of the soul!
Mainstream Executive Coaching typically offers assistance for performance based issues within the business environment. Whether it be instrument based coaching or reflective coaching, the focus is often upon obtaining personal clarity for problem solving. "How can I meet my goals?" "What are my objectives?" "How can I become more effective in my job?" "What is the right decision for my company?" These are very legitimate and typical concerns for the Executive Coach and his or her client.
However, once an individual has moved up the developmental scale of maximum performance, new issues often emerge. This can be the doorway to the Next Step.
This step is often seen in very successful executives in their forties and fifties who are wondering, "What am I doing with my life?" "Now that I have made my fortune, how can I contribute to humanity?" The spiritually-minded Executive Coach can play an invaluable role in helping his or her client explore and clarify these eternal questions. I suggest that knowing one's purpose can provide a clarity and inner peace that will dramatically effect every aspect of one's life.
These higher level matters come from the domain of the soul and require a different methodology for investigation. The conventional worldly problems are often successfully resolved with a left brain, rational approach. The spiritual questions call for a right brain, heart centered, intuitive approach that allows for a deeper listening to the inner wisdom of the soul. Quiet contemplation, dream work, art, journal writing, meditation, and communion with nature provide more direct access to the soul's terrain and result in profound shifts in one's view of life and one's place in the world.
As is true with all helping professions, your ability to help is largely determined by your personal level of experience. This "next step" requires some personal degree of familiarity with the inner terrain and the methods for spiritual exploration. A comfort with feelings, emotions, confusion, and the unknown are very helpful. A well developed sense of intuition, an ease with silence and an ability to let go of being in control will open new dimensions of insight and understanding.
The athletic coaches are very familiar with The Zone; a state of consciousness that allows for an incredible, effortless, peak athletic performance. The Zone is not limited to physical performance. All of life can be lived from this state of presence and awareness. Shifts in consciousness will open an inner domain filled with personal meaning, wisdom, a sense of purpose, and an experience of our universal interconnectedness; all of which will result in a life filled with peak performance and greater creative expression.
We are all interested in the bottom line. Richard Barrett, former Values Coordinator at the World Bank, suggests that knowing one's life purpose is vital to establishing a values based organization. Robert Haas, CEO of Levi Strauss, has said, "In the next century, a company will stand or fall on its values." Our deeper values come from the depth of our being and a good coach and can help you get there.
Conventional wisdom dictates that we must set clear goals and have a vision if we are to achieve great things. After all, how can we get to where we are going if we do not know where we want to go? Now I ask, who is setting the goals and who is creating the vision?
Too Zen? Where there is Zen, there may be Yen!
No joke, studies of Fortune 500 CEO's found that the top executives relied upon quiet time, moments of prolonged inner reflection, to help them make better decisions. The inner connection allowed them greater access to intuitive problem solving which resulted in clearer thinking and more effective decision making. This modern approach to business is founded upon ancient Eastern philosophy. Lao Tsu, in the Tao Te Ching advises,
Without going outside, you may know the whole world,
Without looking through the window, you may see the ways of heaven.
The farther you go, the less you know.
Thus he sage knows without traveling;
He sees without looking;
He works without doing.
This paradoxical advice speaks to a different level of our being, if we are willing and able to hear it. To "know without traveling," "see without looking," and work without doing" is to be without effort. "The farther you go, the less you know," speaks to the great mystery of life that is beyond our personal comprehension.
The deeper aspect of ourselves, call it the soul if you like, exists in harmony and unity with all creation. A subtle, yet tangible force of energy, weaves a web that interpenetrates all life. Our thought, our consciousness can access this subtle realm to receive and to create, to learn and to impregnate. This subtle force is the terrain of the soul. You know you have found solid ground in this subtle realm when you feel peace, love, joy and bliss; not necessarily all at the same time.
Lao Tsu offers further advice, When nothing is done, nothing is left undone. How can this be? It can only be if the doer unites with the source of all being, then the less you do, the more space there is for the Great One to act. A lot of mystical mumbo jumbo perhaps? I suggest not. Sound practical advice for manifesting in the next Century!
Back to the issue at hand, setting personal goals. Of course you can use the old tried and proven method and use your mind to think about what you want and develop a game plan to achieve those goals. Effective, but not necessarily the most enlightened approach. One last thought from our old friend Lao Tsu,
Knowing others is wisdom;
Knowing the self is enlightenment.
I suggest that the next Century calls for enlightened action. This approach requires a deeper knowing of the self which allows for clearer intuitive perception and the seemingly mystical manifestation of the highest synchronistic order. To state this a little more simply. We all have within our soul a deep knowing about our unique purpose in this life. When we take the time to introspect and ask for clarity about this purpose, we can more consciously become aligned with the highest forces of creation. The process of realizing our soul purpose also reveals the mystery of "being without doing." The soul functions at a level that is beyond and transcendent of out personal ego. The will and intention, tools of the soul, are actually powerful forces that can be used for manifestation. Our own material efforts and unfocussed actions recede in the face of the soul's ability to intuitively perceive and manifest. Perhaps this personal story will provide some clarity.
A number of years ago I was very troubled about the nature of the world. The Cold War was raging and the possibility of a nuclear holocaust seemed all too possible. I was meditating and had the vision of a nuclear bombing exploding a few miles from my home and considered that reality in which I had a few seconds before I would be vaporized. I asked myself, "Had I done everything in my power to prevent this?" The answer was clearly, "No!" From a very deep and sacred place within me, I spoke to the Great Voice that often guides me and offered myself in anyway that might be found useful. A personal goal, if you like, to try and help keep the world from being blown up. This goal came from a very deep place, clearly not my mind, for indeed, how could I as one common citizen do anything to stop such a terrible deed. I conceived of this work as an experiment to see what God could do through one simple, available citizen. Perhaps an opportunity to "work without doing." I felt guided to create a nonprofit organization which was called Projects for Planetary Peace. I was told that Soviets related to organization, not to individuals. This made sense to me so I created the organization in case I found something to do.
Not too long after Projects for Planetary Peace was created, I was invited to attend a conference in Colorado entitled Yoga for Peace. During the conference I met a woman who had just returned from the Soviet Union and had made arrangements with the Soviet Peace Committee to bring a group of Americans to the Soviet Union on a Citizen Diplomacy Mission. The goal was to bring normal citizens together and break the stereotypes that had been created by both governments that we were enemies and evil people. This woman had plans but no organization for such work. We agreed to become partners in this worthwhile adventure. I was then invited to go to the Soviet Union, free of charge, to help organize this work. Over the next two and a half years I made six trips to the Soviet Union and traveled extensively through that country. I help to bring Soviet Citizens to the United States and took American citizens to the Soviet Union. Spin off projects such as the "Entertainment Summit" held in Hollywood, California resulted from our exchanges. The Entertainment Summit brought film makers from the Sovin Film and Hollywood studios together with the result that they agreed to stop making films that portrayed each other as evil enemies that must be destroyed. Film makes took responsibility for the destructive and fear producing images that they were creating and generating in people's minds. This work, along with other Americans doing similar work did have a profound affect on international politics.
The success of this project resulted from many synchronistic events. For example, I wanted to take the Soviet group to the State Capital. I did not know anyone there but I help the thought and intention that someone would be made possible. A few weeks later I flew to Carmel on a small private flight only to find my travel companions to be John Geramendi and other state officials who were interested in the Soviet's visit. Time and time again, necessary resources and opportunities became available as the need arose. Of course, one cannot just sit around waiting for results to happen. Once the goal is clear, we must do all we can do to fulfill our mission. My point is that working from the inside out and consciously aligning ourselves with our deepest values allows for more enlightened action and ultimately greater success.
Books - Disclosure: We get a small commission for purchases made via links to Amazon.
The books listed here cover a wide range of interests and tastes. They are offered as thought-provoking opportunities to explore beyond the realm of traditional thinking. The older books are out of print but may be available in libraries or used book stores.
Page updated: October 16, 2023
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