By Barb Ward

Sometimes all the facts and data seem to clearly point in one direction, but you simply can’t let go of that feeling you have. You try to rationalize with yourself that all the data can’t be wrong… but in the end you have to go with your gut.

This is your intuition, or inner wisdom. It’s that little voice in your head that guides you in the right direction even when you don’t have the data to make an informed choice. Understanding the importance of intuition allows you to access more information through awareness of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and bodily responses.

In the western world, most decision-making is done through cognitive analysis. However, decisions aren’t only made through rational and conscious assessment of options. There are times when your intuition (gut feelings) guides you in the right direction even in the absence of credible or accessible information. Antonio Damasio’s somatic marker hypothesis holds that somatic markers (gut feelings or intuition) are used to make decisions when cognitive faculties are busy or when resource or information are lacking (Damasio, Tranel & Damasio, 1991). The theory is that your body recalls the emotions and outcomes related to certain situations and relies on these somatic markers (gut feelings) when making future decisions. As a result, your intuition may act subconsciously, steering you toward advantageous options even when you don’t have a conscious understanding of the benefits or consequences of a choice.

While there are clearly decisions made based on data— such as when a physician is diagnosing a patient’s illness, or a finance leader is modelling the 24-month sales forecast— since you lead and work in a complex environment, you may find yourself in situations where data alone doesn’t provide the answers. Blending your cognitive decision-making skills and your gut feelings is a powerful combination that allows you to make informed choices.

  • What has your experience been with intuition? 
  • What role does intuition play in your decision-making? 
  • When is intuition the most useful? 
  • Have you ever experienced it as a barrier? 
  • How can/do you use your intuition to help make decisions in an uncertain environment today? 

We would love to hear your insights and experiences involving inner wisdom/intuition, if you feel moved to do so, please leave a comment.


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