In a previous article, I described how Intuition is the “gut feeling” we get in some situations. I also explored Intuition’s opposite counterpart – what I called Careful Consideration. While Intuition comes at us quickly and naturally, Careful Consideration requires us to slow down and think about all the facts available to us.
Turns out, Intuition, when used in the right circumstances is a very useful tool in decision-making and problem-solving. Experts in their field often have very reliable gut feelings. This is because they have sharpened and fine-tuned their Intuition in that area through years and years of experience.
So, there’s an upside, as well as a downside to all this. The downside is there really isn’t a substitute for experience. The silver lining is there are methods to deliberately accelerate and train our Intuition. Here are some techniques from The Inner Game of Tennis that can be used to prime our Intuition.
Careful Consideration, on Hindsight
The first technique is to use careful consideration on hindsight, but with a detached interest. Ask yourself why you reacted in a certain way, or why you came to that conclusion. Be specific. Did it produce the desired outcome? If not, why? Use this time to store information and ideas in your brain so that you can pull it the next time it’s needed quickly. Do not judge. Think of a baby learning to walk. When they fall, they don’t judge themselves for falling. Instead, they think about what went wrong, get back up, and just start walking again. This is the kind of attitude needed to sharpen our Intuition using Careful Consideration on hindsight.
The second sharpening technique is imagining or visualizing. This is a powerful method because it is the closest thing to communicating with our Intuition. Close your eyes and imagine what your five senses will experience. If you have already visualized how you will react in a situation, you have a higher chance of actually reacting that way. For example, imagine your boss asking you a question at the end of your presentation. What is the tone in their voice? What is your body language going to look like? How does it make you feel, and how do you want to feel?
The Inner Game
The last technique involves an examination of our motives. When we do not have the time to slow down and consider all the facts, our main motivations drive our decisions. I first started playing football when my parents signed me up for an amateur youth league. Naturally, my main motivation was beating my opponent. I would get upset when my team lost a game. I would focus on missed kicks, often replaying them in my head. When I graduated from that youth league, my motivations suddenly changed. I was playing it for myself. I began thinking, “What if I became the best possible player that I can be?”. I was competing against myself. Instead of dwelling on a pass or shot that cost my team, I saw my next shot as an opportunity to do better. I was having fun, and I was really improving. I realize now that I had created an internal environment where my Intuition could learn and apply.
Intuition is not something you can decide to use or not use. There will be situations where you cannot slow down and think about all the facts available. What are some areas where you feel your Intuition capabilities are satisfactory, and what are areas you are less confident in relying on Intuition? As you go through the cycle of using and fine-tuning your Intuition, you start to be able to confidently rely on it. You get one step closer to becoming a true expert each time.