Let me ask you: What personal attributes would you say give you a competitive edge? Is it your persuasiveness? Emotional intelligence? Drive to achieve? Is it the ability to understand how Millennials think and how best to lead them?
So many of us have untapped, X-men-like skills and abilities that we have yet to discover and take advantage of in business and personal relationships. For me, this one human "superpower" has saved me many times when placed in a bad spot.
I speak of intuition.
Before the skeptics brand this article as some touchy-feely, new age nonsense, let me convince you of its direct impact on your work life.
First, the textbook definition.
Intuition: A natural ability or power that makes it possible to know something without any proof or evidence : a feeling that guides a person to act a certain way without fully understanding why.
A power it is indeed. Ever had a moment where you felt as though something just....wasn't... right? In the same way that Spider Man's "Spider Sense" warns him of the flying car before it crashes through the window to impale his girlfriend? Yeah, that.
Like the time you walked to your car in an empty parking lot late at night, and you just knew you had to get the heck out of there?
Or how you felt uncomfortable around that new hire without knowing why, who you find out later, is terminated for sexual harassment?
Intuition Is Your Internal Compass
I'm speaking of that "inner voice" -- that gut feeling from deep down inside -- that clues us in to thoughts and feelings under the layers of logic and rationale.
In such times, intuition kicks into high gear as an internal compass to keep us moving in the right direction.
Since I'm on a metaphorical roll, just as a great immune system wards off germs and illness, an intuitive sense also has a great immune system which wards off potentially bad situations. It senses things early on, and if it smells wrong, acts as a defense mechanism.
This is really helpful because the world will throw many unexpected curveballs our way. In a fully-integrated character, our intuition will tell us when to go left, right, or stay put.
But here's the catch: Intuition without character is merely lipstick on a pig. I can't tell you how many impulsive choices I made in my twenties that led to massive fails, my first marriage being one of them.
My intuition was screaming loudly, but a low integrity didn't recognize its voice -- the two hadn't met yet.
As I developed character and increased self-awareness, I began to listen and heed the call of intuition more often; in turn, good choices increased (I am now happily married to my best friend).
Now, as founder of a startup, the marriage of intuition and integrity is the dynamic duo that bails me out of difficult spots.
Intuition Is an Organizational Asset
Good intuition will also keep business leaders from making decisions that do not fit with organizational values or customer expectations.
Intuition will alert you to pulling the trigger on things and people that no longer serve you. It forces you to have those Come To Jesus Moments with peers or staff about an underperforming team or declining company morale.
Years ago, a company I worked with went through a hiring crunch during a phase of explosive growth. Lots of work demand, not enough bodies with specific technical skills to do the work.
Stressed out managers were filling job requisitions in Speedy Gonzalez fashion, even though many of them knew that candidates being interviewed weren't really the right fit. Ever been there?
What I could see from the sidelines, they could not see from the trenches; ignoring their gut instincts, weeks later there were quite a few mis-hires that turned over and cost the company big bucks.
People do the same thing when they get engaged, buy a house, or invest in a business. They just don't trust that little intuitive voice that says, "Don't do it."
How Do You Trust Your Intuition? Ten Different Ways
I'll leave you with this. If you're not sure of whether your intuition is speaking to you, here's a list of the things your inner-voice will be telling you. But the key is -- you have to be in integrity with yourself enough to listen, trust, and act!
- This doesn't feel quite right.
- I really don't feel comfortable doing this or agreeing to this.
- This is not what I really want.
- I don't like what I am agreeing to, or part of me doesn't.
- This violates an important value or belief.
- I am going to resent this later.
- I resent this now.
- I am tempted to do it, but deep down know I shouldn't.
- I wish this were not happening.
- This feels the same as the last time.