Going by that “gut feeling” is often considered risky, but in reality, we all have the ability to intuit and connect the intelligence of the mind, heart and gut. Everyone has experienced a time when they just knew something, even if they couldn’t quite explain it. We can develop intuition to better handle the uncertainties of an era of incessant change.
While we may experience that feeling of intuition in our daily life, many times we stifle our instincts, especially at work. It takes courage to realise that intuition is as valuable as logic. There is not much room for intuition when leaders are expected to do everything by the book.
Meetings, spreadsheets, memos, handling data - everything likely has a set routine. This routine is part of the problem. A recent study found that working on autopilot can cause you to be ‘out of the loop’. If this lapse occurs while someone is in a dangerous environment, such as around heavy machinery, accidents can happen.2
GIVING YOUR HEART AND GUT A VOICE
Even if leaders begin to acknowledge their gut instinct, what about the heart? Listening to your heart is vital to improve agility and intuition. Ancient civilisations believed that the heart, not the brain, was the most important part of the body.
The heart-brain connection is often overlooked, even as we begin to understand that the heart is more than a simple pump. Research has shown that emotional states, including stress, impact the heart and that the heart and brain are linked. This link is comparable to the brain-gut axis.3
Scientists are now using the power of neuroscience to examine the impact of gut health on our brains. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, increases when our brains are in an unstable state. Even mild levels of stress have an impact on microbes in the gut by decreasing the metabolism of a precursor of serotonin, a mood stabiliser.4
“The only real valuable thing is intuition.”
4 REASONS TO LISTEN TO YOUR INTUITION
Your body is linked in more ways than you can imagine, and listening to the feelings from your mind, heart and gut requires courage. These feelings are formed using past knowledge and experiences, and leaders should value these instincts.
- Most people (88%) believe that intuition serves them well, yet 76% scoff at the notion of relying on intuition in the business world.5 Give yourself permission to tap into these feelings and make them a part of your daily life.
- Your intuition helps you make decisions quickly and allows you to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. Spend some time playing because you’ll have the opportunity to make quick decisions and see how they pan out. Playtime is essentially practicing for when your decisions really count.
- Don’t be afraid of spontaneity. You can’t build the impossible if you can’t imagine or dream it first, so when you have a great idea, write it down or act on it. Even if your idea is geared to technology a hundred years away, you can’t increase intuition and agility if you don’t dream big.
- Treat that inner voice as a valuable commodity. You can retrain your brain to help your heart, gut and mind work efficiently together. Intuition is like a muscle--it needs to be exercised or it will shrivel up. If you constantly stamp down on these feelings they may eventually be silenced.
Being a leader is more than doing things by the book. By cultivating your own intuition, you will create an environment that allows others around you to explore their own inner voices. The link between the heart, gut and mind guides us, but only if we have the courage to trust our intuition.
1. Hodgson M. Intuition - Why It’s Time To Listen To Our Third Brain. About my Brain Institute. 2017. Available at: https://blog.aboutmybrain.com/intuition-why-its-time-to-listen-to-our-third-brain
2. Gouraud J, Delorme A, Berberian B. Autopilot, Mind Wandering, and the Out of the Loop Performance Problem. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2017;11,541. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2017.00541
3. Damiano, S. Wellbeing Strategies for Optimal Brain & Body Performance. About my Brain Institute. 2018;1. [eBook].
4. Damiano S. Why You Should Be Listening To That Gut Feeling -- Literally. About my Brain Insitute. 2018. Available at: https://blog.aboutmybrain.com/why-you-should-be-listening-to-that-gut-feeling-literally
5. McLennan K. Building Leaders for the Imagination Age: The Case for the i4 Model. About my Brain Institute. 2016;1. [White Paper].