How many times a week do you need to make a decision without all the facts you’d like to have? If you’re a manager — of anything, from a household to a multi-billion-dollar corporation to your own life –you’re probably faced with that kind of challenge daily. But in this rationally oriented culture, you may not realize there are ways to make quite sensible decisions without adequate logical information, yet with a minimum of stress.
Doing this effectively requires learning to operate with our intuitive abilities, as well as our rational ones.
Years ago, I was in the business of developing training programs for major corporations. I had a staff in a Washington, D.C., suburb, and client organizations around the country. I was also very active in national professional groups. I was truly a “jet set consultant,” and I lived with a high level of stress related to all my responsibilities.
At General Electric’s management development center, I happened to attend a talk by Dr. Gerald Gordon of Boston University, who spoke on “Decision Making in the Absence of Adequate Data.” Dr. Gordon showed the reasonableness and efficacy of using intuitive tools when you don’t have enough facts…and even sometimes when you do have a lot of facts but the decision is still not clear. Not long after that, I attended a professional society presentation by Dr. Michael Ray of Stanford University on the importance of intuition in business creativity. So, with that validation from researchers, I set out to learn how to do it…because I certainly needed it!
Initially, I focused on learning to use intuitive tools, and I became familiar with the I Ching (a major tool used by Chinese rulers in the past), various card decks, the pendulum and dowsing rods. Eventually, I learned a Hawaiian/African stone casting technique. Some of these are more useful for “big-picture” information, and others are best for simple “yes/no” answers. They all worked fine for me, once I learned to utilize a few basic principles of practice.
- Be very clear and specific in asking your question. Without a clear question, the answer may be unclear or misleading.
- Set aside your emotions and expectations. What you want is the straight scoop. If you’re too emotionally involved in an issue, get help from somebody skilled who can be neutral about it, because your own emotions can produce garbled or misleading answers.
- Get yourself mentally quiet, and stay mentally quiet as you do your inquiry. Deep breathing, grounding techniques and certain flower essences can help with quieting the mind.
- Listen quietly for the answer.
- Accept the first answer you get; that’s the one that comes from your intuition.
Eventually, I learned to just get quiet, ask a question, and be attentive to whatever answer comes. But I still use the tools when I’m doing several things at once (as I am when I’m working with clients in my office), or when I’m not sure I’m able to be emotionally neutral.
Back then, I took the risk of sharing what I had learned at a national professional conference. Remarkably, the meeting room was packed with more than 300 very interested people, and though a few of my old-timer behaviorist colleagues muttered darkly about my apostasy, I was not run out of town on a rail– in fact, I had become more popular.
Eventually, over time, my intuition helped me to leave that field, enter a new one, and move to a new home base in Minneapolis. I wonder what’s next!