Here’s some good news: you already possess the tools you need to make smarter, better business decisions, according to science. In fact, one of the most valuable tools in your entrepreneurial arsenal — intuition — is completely free, instantaneously available, and something touted by everyone from Steve Jobs (who called it “more powerful than intellect”) to the United States military as a powerful game-changer.
Fast Company described intuition this way:
“The unconscious pattern recognition our brain is constantly performing [that] leads to breakthrough moments,” before adding, “[and] you can train yourself to have more of them.”
The brain is an amazing tool because so much of what it regulates happens automatically. You don’t have to think about breathing or creating memories or controlling sensory inputs. Your brain handles these things on its own. (Which is fantastic since every entrepreneur can attest that he or she sometimes gets too busy to remember to eat) Similarly, intuition — which some refer to as a “sixth sense” — is also the product of your brain working faithfully in the background, processing information and patterns that you may not even be consciously aware are happening.
Many of the world’s top entrepreneurs, including Richard Branson and Bill Gates, have cited intuition as a critical component to their success. Psychology Today noted that study after study has shown, “trusting your intuition leads to better outcomes than trusting your logical, thinking brain”. Here’s how you can leverage this important — and yet often underutilized — tool to help your business thrive.
1. Identify your core values
Core Values define what you stand for and why. Every entrepreneur should codify the core values for his or her business and share with every employee. It’s also important to have a set of personal Core Values (hint: they should align very closely with your business’ Core Values!). Your intuition will help you know what Core Values are right for you. Once you’ve got them written down, they’ll act like a road map to help you begin to trust the decisions you intuitively feel are right for you. They’ll also help keep you from second-guessing yourself, because you have a written set of values to check decisions against.
2. Learn to trust your “gut”
Some people confuse intuition with acting impulsively, when in fact there is a huge difference. Acting impulsively means making a quick, emotional decision without weighing pros and cons. Oftentimes, it’s the result of a decision made during a stressful time. Conversely, intuition is the instinctual feeling you get in your gut when you think about a problem or challenge. Some refer to this as an “inner voice”. This gift is the result of unconscious pattern recognition your brain is doing in the background. The more you listen for this voice, the more it can guide you toward your best decisions for your business.
3. Act intuitively
Ask three well-meaning advisors how to handle any given situation and you’re likely to get three different answers, leaving you even more confused than when you started! Acting intuitively means learning to trust yourself with decisions that, in the past, you might have spent days or weeks debating, either with yourself or with others. Your intuition is invaluable because, in addition to being almost instantaneously available and free, it’s completely aligned with your own core values. It will always be the right advice for you — which is ultimately the most important thing when it comes to decisions relating to your business.