Why should you trust your business intuition?

Crystal ball showing deceptive images

Intuition is a big part of business success for many people.

In a world where we are deluged by information and opinions, how do we make decisions?

Change in the business world is more rapid than ever before and survival requires unique strategies and different processes of decision making. Very often there is no precedent and therefore the rational, analytical approach is of little use.

The answer may be to trust our intuition more.

Intuition is part of our nature and many successful people (even Bill Gates)  admit that intuition is a big part of their success.

Einstein and Edison described their creative process as having original ideas that didn’t come from the rational foundation of the mind. Jonas Salk, the inventor of the polio vaccine, says, ‘The intuitive mind tells the logical mind where to look next.’

Studies of Fortune 500 CEO’s found that the top executives relied upon quiet time, moments of prolonged inner reflection, to help them make better decisions. The inner connection allowed them greater access to intuitive problem solving which resulted in clearer thinking and more effective decision making.

What is intuition?

Intuition is a way of using the brain’s power without the constraints of logical thinking. We gather information from a wide range of sources and often get what is called a ‘gut feeling’ but all too often dismiss this because there is no logical explanation.

We are sometimes talked out of using our intuition and into logical decision making because we  can’t explain why some things just ‘feel right’ and yet when we look back these feelings are often proved to be right.

In our MasterMind groups I see lots of creativity that is born out of intuition. People come up with great business ideas all the time but what creates real success is the trust in their ideas and the drive to follow them through and bring them to fruition. It is often too easy and too tempting to stick with what we know rather than put a lot of effort into developing something new.

When intuition works:

Here are some examples:

Ray Croc bought the McDonalds franchise in the initial stages of its development for what was an exorbitant price. He couldn’t afford it but said ‘My funny-bone instinct kept urging me on buying franchises.’

Conrad Hilton was bidding on the world’s largest hotel and the amount that apparently popped into his head was only 200 dollars higher than the next bid. He described problem solving as ‘I keep listening in a sort of inside silence until something clicks and I feel a right answer.’

Paul Fireman began the manufacture of Reebok shoes when the aerobic exercise boom was non-existent, using an innovative and extremely risky shoemaking technique.

When Jim Adamson was employed by Gap he discovered on a trip to the Far East what would be the first jeans to be imported into America. He purchased far more than was forecast to sell and the product still sold out in only a month. Asked why he didn’t purchase more he said, ‘I just didn’t know how good my intuition was.’

And that’s a lesson for all of us!

If you’d like to talk about what your intuition is telling you and how to take action, make changes and grow your business, get in touch

5 replies
  1. Owen
    Owen says:

    While I agree completely that intuition is an important trait, I wonder whether you are you not in fact being a bit disingenuous with your “When intuition works” section. Why were these examples not mere luck, what is the proportion of good decision making based on intuition vs bad, how many failures have arisen from intuitive decision making?

  2. Ann
    Ann says:

    Owen, you’re absolutely right and I thought the same things as I was researching this article. The people who have learned to trust their intuition have done so because they have many examples of where it has worked and only the most obvious ones are listed here. I don’t think anyone has any empirical evidence that intuition works or doesn’t work but there are lots of examples of people ignoring a ‘gut feeling’ and later wishing they had taken notice of it.

  3. Duncan Hannay-Robertson
    Duncan Hannay-Robertson says:

    The discussions I had was that we didn’t come to any conclusion and its still left up in the air whether intuition really is experience. That’s probably why the dictionary definition was completely different to the audiences definition. Ray Kroc was 52 when he bought Macdonalds. The stimulating debate continues. Another energising evening.

  4. aydinstone
    aydinstone says:

    A neat and succinct article. I see no reason to criticise any part if it.

    Some commentators seem to think intuition is some weird pseudoscience or bunkum like the law of attraction; it isn’t. It’s how we make decisions 99% of the time, unconsciously or with limited consciousness: should I turn left or right, have tea now or later. Conscious decision making is quite rare and is noticeable for its trademark indecision: if we exclude subconscious feelings from the process and use only scant logical facts, it’s often too hard to decide.

    What Ann is proposing here is not whether intuition is real or whether it should be used, but debating it’s use for business decisions. The questions then becomes: when making a big business decision, should we base that that decision on our feelings about the options?

    Only a robot, a Vulcan or a moron would say no.

  5. AnnHawkins
    AnnHawkins says:

    Thanks @AydInstone – I often get phone calls from people who are trying to make decisions about a business issue and its usually along the lines of “This looks like a great opportunity but it doesn’t feel right”. I inevitable tell them to go with their gut instinct. 

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