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How To Trust Your Gut Instincts In Business Through Leadership Intuition
When was the last time you relied on your gut feelings to make a decision? Or decided something based on a “hunch,” or a feeling that would come from nowhere?
For most people, this is not how they work out their daily lives. We all feel we need to have sound logic and reasoning when coming to conclusions about anything. However, in reality, it is often the decisions that are made based on instinct alone that are our best choices.
Intuition is a tricky subject. On one hand, we like to think that there’s something special about us humans. We feel as though our intelligence separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, and for good reason! We’ve built great cities, created entire genres of entertainment, and even sent people to the moon! But at the same time, we’re just animals. We feel and sense things that even the most advanced robots can’t touch.
Some people call it instinct or gut feeling but I think “intuition” is more fitting because it implies a dimension of knowing beyond what we can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. So whether you believe intuition comes from some sort of divine source or is just another side effect of the incredibly complex and highly interconnected nature of our brains, this article aims to discuss ways that you can use your intuition in business.
The truth is, we have no idea how our brains arrive at the solutions they produce. Everything that you see and experience is a mere projection of mental activity. So while your brain seems to be a separate entity from your body, it’s actually an extension of it, just like every other cell in your body. The mind and the body are one.
The key is determining how to tap into this very real power of yours.
Are you curious? If so, you’re already on the right track!
Intuition thrives in an environment of curiosity. It’s like a muscle that you need to nourish and exercise, or else it starts to seize up and atrophy. So what are you waiting for? Keep reading!
I’m about to share with you 15 ways that the best leaders rely on their intuition in business.
As a bonus, I’ll also provide some science-backed explanations as to why these methods work. Ready?
1. Make Regular Observation A Habit
The more you look, the more you learn.
The more you learn, the better you feel.
The better you feel, the stronger your intuition becomes.
What does this mean for business leaders? That simple observation will make you wiser and ultimately increase your success rate in decision-making. The next time someone gives a presentation to executives, stay quiet during the first few minutes. See if you can tell who is going to ask a question and what the question will be about.
If you’re not sure, write it down. You’ll become more observant over time with practice! And that’s a great way to create a strong intuition from the ground up.
Keep in mind that observational learning will be different depending on your industry, job role, and company culture. This method is universal because it’s all about you recognizing patterns of behavior, but it might take time before you feel the effects.
2. Be Aware Of Your Thoughts And Feelings
We often mistake our thoughts for feelings, so they get tangled up in our brains. But they are two very different things!
A thought is just an idea that comes to you, while a feeling is how your body reacts to that thought. When you’re excited about something, it’s because every part of your brain starts firing at once. Your thoughts are what trigger physical responses like this one within your body.
If you’re mad, sad, or happy because something just happened, it’s because your brain processed that external stimulus and produced chemicals to reflect how you were feeling about it. This is all part of the organ’s survival mechanism: “I found food! I’m excited and hungry!” It’s also what fuels intuition. When we feel fear, for example, it’s thanks to the amygdala. It’s the part of our brain that senses danger before we even know what’s going on!
How does this work with business intuition? Think about a project you’ve worked on recently. How did you feel before, during, and after its execution? What emotions come up when you think back on it? If you can tap into this feeling, it will lead to greater intuition on similar projects.
3. Trust Your Gut
The gut is not an organ that we talk about often outside of the context of food! You need to become more aware of your digestive system and how it corresponds to your mind.
Your gut and brain communicate with one another constantly. Every time you have a thought, it triggers some kind of physical response in your body. For example, when you feel stressed out or anxious, “butterflies” will appear in your stomach as a result of increased activity of the vagus nerve.
But this is just part of what happens! Your gut also sends long-distance messages to your brain. It releases neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine in response to food, which makes you feel happy or excited!
For business leaders, this is a big deal. These types of messages from the gut help you determine whether something is good for you or not. Do you trust it when taking risks? Always consider what you’re feeling when you weigh your options!
While some of this scientific research is new, the concept of “gut instincts” isn’t. In fact, some people have been using this method for centuries! It’s about trusting your brain to make any final decisions on a course of action that feels right at the moment.
This type of intuition is very subjective and it doesn’t always feel right. So it’s not a good idea to solely rely on gut instincts all the time – that will probably lead to poor decision-making and impulsive actions. But ultimately your brain is aware of more than you realize, so it should be given as much attention as possible. Listening to those gut instincts definitely has its place in your leadership skills arsenal!
4. Tap Into Your “Hunches” Frequently
Sometimes, instinct picks up on small details that we hardly notice at the moment. These are called hunches. For example, maybe your coworker is extremely quiet during a meeting. But you know why is he so uneasy. You can use that hunch to inform your decision-making.
You’re not able to pinpoint why you think something is off, but it’s okay. It might feel like there’s a weight on your shoulders and that something isn’t quite right.
If the hunch appears, again and again, trust that it’s important and dig deeper into what could be causing it. If you don’t, making decisions will be more difficult as time goes on.
Allow yourself the time and space to listen to those hunches without dismissing them for one second. This is what will truly give you the edge in business!
5. Make Assumptions
You might feel like you can’t trust your gut because it’s led you astray before.
But if you walk around waiting until every question is answered, or all of your assumptions are confirmed, or absolute truth becomes available, then they will never be. Trusting your intuition is about accepting that not everything has an explanation right now.
Not all decisions are high risk, so look for the opportunities to use your gut and hunches to make educated guesses.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t take the time to research, or that your first guesses are always right. I just believe it’s okay to use what we know to guide our decisions—and be ready for new knowledge when it comes along.
If, after an assumption has been made, evidence mounts up that suggests something is wrong or it won’t work out in your favor, you can always change course. But until then it’s okay to take a risk!
That’s what business is all about.
6. Get To Know Yourself
The more familiar you become with yourself, the easier it will be to rely on your instincts. Every day, pay attention to the moments when your intuition kicks in. And over time, you’ll know what situations lead to those moments!
Try to notice what you are feeling or thinking at those times. Maybe your gut is telling you that something isn’t right, but why?
When you rely on your instincts every day, they will become stronger and start to guide you toward better business outcomes. This is what makes for a truly great leader!
If you need some help getting started with this process, try journaling about these daily experiences. You can also use it as an opportunity to reflect on where you are now, where you’d like to be in the future, and how your intuition plays a role in both.
7. Don’t Try To Force An Answer
On the other hand, if you go into a situation knowing that you’ll find an answer right away, then many times—you won’t! Learning when to trust yourself is just as important as learning when not to.
And all this boils down to is learning your body’s natural rhythms. Leaders are able to activate the intuitive parts of their brain by being fully present in the moment—not thinking about anything else, but what they are doing at that very second.
If you’re forcing an answer, you don’t give yourself time to process what’s happening or to feel what your gut is telling you. So take the time to center yourself before making big decisions.
This can be done by practicing deep breathing, meditating, or any other relaxing technique that works for you. Whatever it takes to shut out the rest of the world and tune into your intuition!
Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t find an immediate answer, and don’t panic if you’re finding information that contradicts your thoughts and feelings. Just trust the process and allow yourself time to digest what’s going on.
8. Use Your Intuition To Make Tough Decisions
It’s easy to have a feeling about something, but do you follow through?
Many people try to separate these two functions of their brain—the intuitive part and the rational part. However, both are important in making decisions.
The tough decisions are the ones that need a lot of information and hard facts before an answer can be given.
But what about those important choices that don’t have any data around them? Those are the ones that require your intuition!
Think back to the stories you’ve heard about great leaders who made gutsy calls, but were 100% correct. Look at the results of their decisions, and you’ll see how successful they were!
For instance, Steve Jobs was famous for his intuition. He had a hunch about certain products before anyone else did—and it earned him billions of dollars in sales revenue!
The point is that when there is no data available, use your gut. It can help you to lead your team in the right direction and encourage everyone to practically tackle whatever’s in front of them.
What’s more is that when we allow ourselves to follow our intuition, we’re actually more open to change and adjust our methods if new information comes along. This makes for a great leader—and a successful business!
Sometimes, your intuition will tell you what to do immediately. Other times, you’ll need more information before you can go ahead. Either way, using your intuition will help guide you in the right direction.
9. Think Far Into The Future
Are visionary entrepreneurs just lucky? Is their success merely due to good timing? Or is it an innate ability they’ve developed over time?
My hypothesis is that many entrepreneurs are hardwired with intuition. This allows them to see the future in ways other business leaders can’t. They’re able to process information faster and put two-and-two together more quickly.
This ability truly differentiates them from their competition. Knowing what’s trending, who is purchasing certain products, and being able to stay one step ahead of the pack is how they thrive.
Einstein was famous for saying that he thought about problems five steps ahead of where anyone else was. He wanted to be so far ahead in his thinking that people couldn’t understand where he was coming from. If you could see five steps ahead of the present, wouldn’t you win every time?
When we allow ourselves to think outside of any sort of box we’ve created for our business, we’ll be able to take it even further than before. Be as creative as possible with your ideas and ponder things that most people would never think of.
Spending time thinking about the future where no absolutes exist will sharpen your intuitive abilities and allow you to make smarter decisions—without needing as much concrete information.
Follow your vision, but also be open to new information that might lead you down a different path—or even in the same direction!
10. Think Like A Child
Kids are curious. They’re focused on now, not afraid to ask questions, and carefree about what others think. There’s no better way to develop your intuition than thinking like a child.
Instead, think about what’s fun and interesting. Follow that path no matter how ridiculous it might seem at first glance.
Let go of what other people are doing in their businesses. Kids are innocent—they haven’t yet been ingrained with the rules that adults have. This allows them to think more freely, creatively, and intuitively.
For instance, children don’t know what can’t happen—they just do it! They go with their gut instinct because checking in with everyone else about their ideas is too much work.
How can you be more like a child? Try using your imagination with tasks you would normally consider mundane.
Every time you have an opportunity to work out problems using your imagination, do it! You’ll be surprised how much this will help you, even if it means scaring yourself a little bit.
Instead of following the pack, do what you think is right. All of these factors can help you tap into your intuition and make more accurate decisions over time.
11. Make Room For Uncertainty
It’s hard for people to give up control. But when you do, amazing things happen! It takes guts to go out on a limb—especially if it means accepting everything you can’t see or control.
This is where uncertainty comes in—it’s one of those things we don’t know. But it makes us feel safe to predict the future and make assumptions about what will happen based on our past experiences.
When we’re uncertain, it takes a lot of practice to just relax and allow things to happen as they will. Using our intuition means we need to learn how to become comfortable with the unknown and let go of trying to predict what’s going on around us.
If you can’t control your environment, why try? Relax and seek out information that will help you figure out the next step. Don’t rack your brain trying to guess what’s going on around you, or why people act a certain way—just focus on the present so you can make better decisions.
The more we practice this, the easier it becomes to tap into our intuition and trust that all is well. It could be that the simplest answer is right in front of our noses, but we’re too busy trying to figure everything out to notice!
Your intuition will be your guide in these situations, telling you what’s real and what’s not. Trust that it knows more than you do about the unknowns in business (and life).
12. Try Meditation
I know you’re thinking, “Did she actually just say meditation?” Yes! Because that’s an important part of intuition development.
This may sound like hippie talk to some people but there is actual science behind this. Scientists have discovered that when you meditate, there are chemical changes in your brain and other physiological markers such as heart rate and blood pressure which reflect a positive effect on the mind and the body.
In particular, mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve your response time in tasks that require a decision. Simply put, you will feel closer to the optimal timings for making a move based on your assessment of the situation. And that’s going to help you perfect your intuition!
Your intuition can help you make better business decisions if you know how to listen. And the best way to do this is through meditation. Cultivate a regular practice of clearing your mind, stilling your thoughts, and getting in touch with your body’s inner wisdom.
You may not even know what you’re missing out on until you give meditation a try!
13. Do Not Assume You Know Everything
We can get stuck in ruts if we think we know everything. If you find yourself believing that your way is the only way, then it’s time to step back and take a look at how closed off you’re being to new ideas.
This isn’t about doubting your own abilities, but rather opening up to new possibilities—which may include ideas that you never even considered before.
It takes effort to try out new things, and as I mentioned earlier it can be really scary to go outside of your comfort zone. But intuition develops with experience—and one of those experiences is trying something new and successfully sticking with it!
You might not realize how much you’ve learned by trying something new, but your intuition will recognize it. You’ll feel empowered by knowing that you can pretty much get through anything if you put your mind to it.
It’s amazing how much strength we have when we use our intuition! We are capable of so much more than we ever thought possible because we’re using all available resources in our brains.
Give something new a try and watch your intuition grow!
14. Don’t Overthink Things
When considering a decision, do not go around and around in circles trying to make sure that everything is perfect and there are no complications or consequences that may arise from the decision. This holds true whether the choice is personal or professional.
Sometimes by overanalyzing, the situation only gets worse because you have created a million and one ways something can go wrong. Especially when dealing with business, overthinking a situation is a surefire way to overlook key points that could change your decision entirely.
This is where your intuition helps out—it can come up with an unexpected solution or connection that you wouldn’t have thought of yourself. If something feels off, then it’s time to reevaluate the situation because there may be a larger picture you aren’t seeing.
Great leaders can maintain objectivity in any given situation without allowing external factors to interfere. They know the importance of not overthinking things because it can cloud their judgment and even push them into making a decision that goes against what they believe in.
When you trust your intuition, you’ll feel less overwhelmed by all of the stress and anxiety that comes with figuring out a problem or choice. You’ll feel more confident, which will inspire others around you.
I know when I follow my intuition I get better results—almost every time!
15. Be Confident In Your Decision
Instead of dwelling on what might go wrong, concentrate on the fact that you have weighed all of your options and made a choice. You know what is best for you, and it’s okay to trust yourself in knowing that you’ve considered everything from your intuition.
There isn’t one right way to lead—just the way that works for you. Have confidence in your decision-making abilities and trust your intuition as you push forward.
Great leaders don’t follow blindly—but they do have a clear vision of what needs to be done and how it will benefit those who are following their lead. When you feel confident in yourself, other people will feel confident in you as well.
In fact, research shows that if leaders show confidence when new ideas are being pitched, employees are more likely to be open to trying something new.
And remember, a little fear can be a good thing because it’s an indicator of what you’re capable of overcoming. This helps build your confidence because you’ll know that when something scares you…you can do it!
The Best Leaders Rely On Their Intuition Conclusion
There are two types of leaders: those who trust their instincts and do what they think is right, no matter what anyone else thinks; and those who choose to obey what others expect of them. Which do you think will have more success?
If you’ve never trusted your intuition before, start by identifying your innate beliefs and accepting how they can help to improve all aspects of your life.
Before I began climbing the corporate ladder and later becoming an entrepreneur, I had little faith in my instincts. But after I started learning about myself, and letting myself explore what worked best for me, I’ve been able to make better decisions in everything from business to my personal life. Yeah, I make mistakes sometimes—but my intuition has truly empowered me to take more risks.
If you follow these 15 steps, they will help you understand when your gut is right and when it’s wrong. And if you need some extra help, you can always ask for it!
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
What does intuition mean?
Intuition is a strong instinct or feeling that helps guide a person to a conclusion or decision. This could result from their instincts, emotions, subconscious mind, experiences, and the environment around them.
What’s the difference of instinct vs intuition?
A person might rely on their instincts when they’re in a dangerous situation, whereas intuition is more about trusting your inner thoughts. Instincts are thought to be hardwired into the brain and believed to have formed over the course of evolutionary history. Intuition isn’t always so black and white though. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether a decision was made on instinct or intuition.
What research has been done about relying on intuition?
There is a significant number of studies that show people trust their intuitions over data and facts, which can lead to errors in judgment, such as doctors’ diagnoses and hiring decisions. However, there are times when following one’s instinct pays off as well as times when it doesn’t. It’s important to take a step back and look at the big picture before you make a decision, especially if your life or business is on the line.
What are some intuition examples?
Some people might have an intuition they should apply for a certain job, they should take the stairs instead of the elevator, or that someone is being dishonest with them. Others might have an intuition they need to change their career path, they shouldn’t start a business with someone else, or that it’s time to move on from their romantic partner.
What are instinct examples?
f you’ve ever been at a party and you get the feeling someone isn’t being genuine, that’s probably your intuition speaking. For those times when a decision needs to be made quickly, you might have an instinct that tells you whether or not it’s safe to cross the street or which direction a sound is coming from. Some people also have instincts that help them predict future events—such as being able to predict the weather.
How can managers use their intuition in business?
Since leaders are supposed to have a vision for their company, following your intuition can help you move forward. You might have an instinct which tells you whether or not it’s time to expand your business, improve a product, or hire a new employee.
How do entrepreneurs use their intuition?
In some cases, relying on your gut can help you save money and time. For example, perhaps you have an instinct that tells you to not purchase a particular domain name for your website. There might also be times when having more faith in yourself instead of second guessing every decision can help you achieve your goals.
This blog post was written with my AI writing assistant, Jasper.
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