Every Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.
I believe that intuition plays a huge part in our lives, but also in business. I believe big businesses underestimate their CEOs’ and employees’ ability to work intuitively. I believe small businesses (especially if they’re creative) run on intuition by necessity. And I believe that if we were all to hone and cultivate our intuition, we’d improve our ability to make the decisions that are right for us.
Let me say more about that bit about small businesses…
We work alone. We work with innovative ideas and iterations that haven’t been seen before.
Time and resources are limited. When we’re making decisions about what colour to use on a product, or whether to put X or Y on Facebook, we work intuitively. Part of that intuition might include using information we’ve processed – consciously or subconsciously – about what worked before.
Yes, we might use research (our own or others’), but we certainly don’t have huge budgets and buckets of time for qualitative and quantitative data processing. For brand agencies, market researchers, and data analysts.
Once we’ve got the best possible information, ultimately most decisions come back to what feels right for us.
And that’s not to say intuition is always the knee-jerk initial reaction we have to a particular problem or decision. Sometimes that’s reserved for fear, or anxiety, or I’m-not-good-enough judgements.
Intuition is the deeper voice, the one that somehow knows, the one you’ve always had to lead you down the right path for you.
Intuition doesn’t care what other people are doing. (Comparison is the thief of joy.) Intuition works exclusively for you and your work.
Intuition is your way of learning, processing and deciding that can’t always be explained immediately. And it’s often quicker than going round the houses in trying to back something up.
Here’s the thing:
Intuition, like any other skill, needs cultivating. It needs practice. It needs conscious attention.
To make it really valuable to you and your business, you need to tend to your intuition, building up the trust you have for yourself.
A few things to try to cultivate your own unique intuition:
1. Think back. Remember a time in recent weeks or months when you made a decision or acted intuitively. How did it feel? How did you know it was the right decision for you? Did you “just know”? Were there still doubts? It could be as simple as deciding which product or image to put on your website’s homepage. What was the impact of your decision? Is there anything your intuition can learn for next time? (Even it’s just – hey, you were spot on!)
2. Make your fears and insecurities conscious so that they don’t get in the way of your intuitive voice. We all have fears and insecurities. And while it often feels like you want to push them down and lock them in a safe 20 leagues under the sea, that actually makes them stronger and more aggressive. As uncomfortable as it might feel, I thoroughly recommend writing out all the fears, worries and insecurities that come up for you in general and regarding specific situations or decisions.
Be really honest, and really specific. (“I’m afraid I’m a fraud, and one day people are going to find out.”)
Notice if and how you catastrophise (“This product will fail, and then no one will like me, and my business will go under.”)
When you’ve got a nice, big list, take it all in. Become aware of how your fears might be your knee-jerk reactions that block your intuition. Be kind to yourself – these fears aren’t “bad”, they’re just beliefs you’ve picked up to try and keep you safe. A little misguided, and ready to be heard but not followed.
3. Sit with your intuition. It really benefits from being respected and listened to. You might choose to meditate, or write down your ideas. You might just think about how you work intuitively while you’re cooking or out for a walk. The more space and intention you can give to this muscle called intuition, the stronger it will get. If you have a wave of inspiration or there’s an idea you can’t shake, write it down, say it out loud. Whatever feels right, even if you can’t back it up right this second. That’s your intuition asking for a louder voice.
Wishing you a wonderful end to the first week of the year, and lots of lovely intuition,
Like the sound of working more closely with your intuition? I’ll be covering it at my Small Creative Business Retreat (20-22 March). A weekend of relaxation, rejuvenation and re-connecting with your business (and your intuition!). What could be better? Book your place now!