Why and How to Use Intuition to Make Important Choices in Life & Business

Image representing two paths. One follows logic and other, intuition

When making important, life-altering choices, be it in business or relationships, which path should we follow – the one that our logic and expert advice dictates or should we follow the guidance of our intuition and go where it leads us? Let’s find out.

Pin for intuition vs expertise blog post with title and image

What is intuition, really?

Most people associate intuition with either emotions or some kind of inner magic. It’s neither, as I have learned in the past few months.

Simply put, intuition is –

the ability to know something without having proof

I prefer the definition shared in a forbes article

Intuition is unique in that it bridges the emotional reaction of instinct with the intellectual response of analysis. In other words, it combines feeling with thinking.

Along with feeling and thinking, I believe that it also takes into account past experience and observed patterns. 

As we know, that there is a lot of information stored in our subconscious that continues to influence our choices without any overt conscious awareness of it on our part.

It’s more active when we sense danger, especially for women. It’s also what allows people in senior positions to make snap judgements at times of crisis. 

What I understand is that intuition does not function on its own, it gives us answers or guidance that comes from a very informed place. As I learned about this, I had two concerns – 

  1. if it stands on available information and past learning, if I have never learned or experienced something (namely, running a successful business) wouldn’t my intuition be limited as well?
  2. As a beginner with limited experience, just how reliable is my intuition? If it’s limited right now, how do I hone it?

Before I share with you the answers that I have acquired through my research, I want to share with you a few examples of the successes that were built on the strength of intuition.

Successes built on the strength on intuition

Oprah Winfrey

For all the major moves in my life—to Baltimore, to Chicago, to own my show, and to end it—I’ve trusted my instincts. I take in all the information I can gather. I listen to proposals, ideas, and advice. Then I go with my gut, what my heart feels most strongly….When you don’t know what to do, do nothing. Get quiet so you can hear the still, small voice—your inner GPS guiding you to true North.

Oprah quit stable jobs, moved to different states, took massive risks, and launched projects, all on the strength of that inner voice. Oprah’s life story, if studied carefully, will convert even the strongest non-believers. At every crossroads, she checked-in with her inner voice, evaluated her intentions, and surrendered herself to service propelled by the strength of her beliefs.

Steve Jobs's Company, Apple

Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic

I research new ideas very thoroughly, asking a lot of people about their experiences and their thoughts but on many occasions I have followed my intuition; you can't make decisions based on numbers and reports alone.

Albert Einstein

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.

These are just the most popular examples and the ones that I am aware of; there are a lot of others, of course. Henry Ford’s V8 engine, Nike’s branding, Tim Cook, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Ratan Tata and almost all the creative geniuses who have made the world a more beautiful place were more inspired by their intuition than logic or expertise. 

Now, these successes are very inspiring but I am also very certain that there are just as many (if not more) stories of failures where intuition led creators and innovators down the wrong path. This awareness is what makes hard facts, analysis, and external validation so attractive. Using tried and tested strategies, confirming our choices by people with more success, the majority vote – all of these things give us a sense of safety. 

It is what made me (and I am someone far too independent and stubborn to ever ignore my own instincts) choose the opinions of experts over my own intuition.

Let me give you a little background on what brought me to this question of expertise vs intuition –

I have been building my coaching business for a couple of years now. Of course, I have been working as a coach in one capacity or other for years. Initially, it was part of my own recovery and then, it was simply me giving back to the community that had supported me as I rebuilt my life and sanity.

What led me to quitting my 9-5 and going all in with my coaching work was understanding that this work made me truly happy, it never tired me out, and it served my larger mission and purpose in life. I bounce out of bed on Mondays. 

I can talk to client after client without getting tired and I feel like there is meaning to my life and work. 

Moreover, my coaching business allows me to show up as I am and connect with women I can truly help. It allows me to create a positive impact on the world and work towards creating a legacy that I can, someday, be proud of but of course, mine is a growing concern. 

My business is very new and not yet profitable in the conventional sense. I am new to this world and everything it entails – marketing, hiring (& firing!), investing money, prioritising projects, choosing collaborators, etc. Everyday, there is a decision to be made and so far, it has been quite a struggle. 

Apart from being a business owner and coach, I am also a podcaster, content creator, and I collaborate with people all over the world. There is a lot of juggling that goes on between my roles. I am also a daughter, sister, and friend – roles that matter as much as my business does, if not more. 

In order to build a profitable business and reach the right audience,  I have been working with business and sales coaches, attending events and workshops, and learning from a variety of courses all that could potentially help me grow as a business owner.

Now, the more I consulted all of these experts and followed their advice, the less authenticity I was able to bring to my work. Very often, I would want to do, say, write, and create things that were contrary to the ‘expert’ advice. I was also following routines and practices that were hurting my emotional, mental, and physical health, but the last straw was finding out that someone else had the trademark for my podcast name – a podcast that I had rebranded (and spent considerable money, time, and energy doing it!) only a few months back. 

I was already feeling like I had stepped into someone else’s version of my dream reality. Everything was mine but felt alien. When I received the email that made me realise that I am going to have to rebrand AGAIN, I said, ‘fuck it, and hit pause on everything.’ What really hurt was the fact that I didn’t even like the name I had given my podcast. The branding agency came up with it (without checking whether it was even available or not 😠) and I okayed it because it had the majority vote when we ran it by a group of some 30-40 people. Validating your ideas before execution is a big theme with all the business coaches, courses, and mentors and I followed that advice and lived to regret it. 

It was just one in a long line of decisions that had failed to pay off and that had made me feel kind of empty about my work. So, when I received that email, I decided to do some serious thinking about how I wanted to move forward. 

My personal experience using both, 'expert advice + logic' and 'intuition'

My intuition is what made me to go all in with my business and it is exactly what makes me good at what I do. Allowing my intuition to guide my choices has always brought me immense joy and learning; it allowed me to attract women who needed my help and were able to create the transformations that served them.

On the downside, it also limited the amount of people I could reach. I was running my business in a very emotive way and had I continued in that vein, I would have had to shut things down eventually. 

Following expert advice helped me attract the right clients but I never felt comfortable in how I showed up and the content I was producing. I was second guessing myself almost constantly, and I was writing, speaking in a way that felt very inauthentic. The love and excitement that had drawn me to this work was muted now. I wasn’t doing things I wanted to do because, according to my coach, they wouldn’t bring clients or they would take too long. 

That has been my experience so far- it’s not a lot but it’s enough to tell me that something has to change and the trademark issue with the podcast was just the wake up call I needed because it sent me back to the drawing board and I got the opportunity to rethink and rework my strategies. 

Here's what my research has revealed about what's better, intuition or expertise.

I was honestly hoping to learn that intuition wins hands down, but obviously, that’s not the case. As I mentioned, there are probably just as many stories of loss as there are of success that can be credited to intuition and its guidance. 

What I have found is that data, facts, knowledge, and experience will ALWAYS matter but you need to listen to your intuition when you make big leaps. 

Here’s the deal – accessing your intuition in itself is a skill and it needs to be honed. A lot of the time, what we believe to be our inner voice is really just our need to do the easy thing.

For example, it never FEELS good to invest large sums of money into a new business but it has to be done if we want to scale and grow. 

Basically, there are certain decisions that can be purely intuition driven but in most cases, you need to support the urgings of your intuition with available information and expertise. 

Use your intuition but be smart about it. 

As I said, accessing your intuition is a skill. When seasoned entrepreneurs make snap decisions, they rely on their gut to guide them and they can do that because they’ve had a lot of practice. I am still learning how to run a business and its various components, my intuition doesn’t have much in the way to offer but when it comes to how I show up, I am, from this point forward, only going to listen to my intuition. 

When making branding decisions, your intuition should be the boss and expert opinions, the underling. This applies to most creative decisions because creative products appeal to people’s emotions, not their logic. The energy that you infuse will determine whether you make a sale or not. If it’s mechanically done, it probably wouldn’t work in your favour. I never liked the name I gave my podcast and it ended up costing me. Perhaps, it has a little something to do with the Law of Attraction, as well. Think about it for a second. 

When we listen to our intuition, till the results roll in, we operate with a lot of positive energy and exuberance because we feel good about what we are doing. There is no resistance. Our internal environment is on our side which also means that we vibrate on a higher frequency and put our extremely positive energy. It helps us attract positive results and amplify the good in our life. 

Now, if we take the expert advice but it goes completely against our inner urging, we’ll experience a lot of resistance and if we believe in the Law of Attraction (and you really should; it’s not exactly a woo-woo concept any more), we are likely to operate from a somewhat negative and uncertain place impacting the results we generate. 

How to hone and access your intuition-

As I shared that being new to anything limits how much your intuition can help you in that particular area, so even as we cultivate our intuition, we must also continue to learn as much as we can and one of the best ways to do that, apart from books and courses, is by talking to people with more experience. 

In the age of YouTube videos and podcasts, we can easily find a way to access wisdom of people who are otherwise beyond our reach. As we learn, our knowledge base will grow which will act as a resource as we start cultivating our intuition.

As for how best to access and hone your intuition, here are a few simple things that can help –

1. Intuition has a lot to do with instinct, gut feelings which as the name suggests is connected to our gut. In fact, our gut is directly connected to our brain and it’s lined with more than 100 million nerve cells and is considered practically a brain itself or at least, the second brain as it’s called.

I am not suggesting that you consult your stomach when making a decision 😉 but I do believe that it helps to bring awareness to your body and physical energy when making important decisions. After all, we survive on the strength of our body’s responses and sometimes, I think you’ll agree, we are able to detect friends and foe simply on the basis of how they impact our energy.

So, the first thing to do is to make your physical  and energetic responses part of your decision making process.

I am launching a YouTube channel at the end of this month. I considered the idea a couple of years back but felt such resistance (in my body) to it that I dismissed it in no time and now, I am so thrilled and excited about it that despite the sheer amount of work, I am filled with eagerness and constantly putting aside other concerns to work on it. We’ll see how the decision pans out for me; it’s definitely intuition driven.

2. Clear Vision is something else that can help. The more clarity you have around what you actually want out of life, the easier it will be for you to pick a path that actually serves you.

3. Meditation, of course – along with clarity you need tools that allow you to hear your inner voice. If I know what I want (clear vision) and I have a few POTENTIAL solutions to get that goal, I need to figure out which one out of all those options works best for me and choose accordingly. This requires me to silence all external noise and tune into my internal world, the best way to do that is to meditate.

4. Conviction – I say this with a lot of confidence, when you work on something with absolute conviction, the results will definitely be in your favour. Recovering from my depression, getting into  one of the best universities in the world, setting up my business, every time I have done something with absolute conviction, the results have been in my favour. What’s more, every time I hit a bump, solutions showed up as if by magic. I believe that the universe or God join your team when you bring the power of conviction and I don’t think you can have much of that if your intuition is against what you’re doing. So, a good way to access your intuition is to ask yourself – Am I passionate about what I am doing? Do I feel good about this? Am I sure of the path that I have taken?

5. Journaling is something else that can help because it is one of the most practical tools to cultivate awareness around your desires and inclinations. 

Apart from all of these solutions, I just recommend practice. Check-in with your intuition as you make important choices and eventually, you’ll be able to tell apart your inner voice from all the other noise.  Good Luck!

 

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Hi! I'm Krati Mehra

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I know what it’s like to fall apart and gradually put your pieces back together to build something better than what you had before and I share all my lessons in this space hoping that you will share my learnings without the struggle.

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