Intuition is useful to solve work problems, or for good decisions

Images of Dr. Jonas Salk

Two images of Jonas Salk who developed of the first successful polio vaccine — he said intuition was important to include with reason. Left image is by SAS Scandinavian Airlines (http://images.flysas.com) and has been released to the public domain via Wikimedia Commons. Right image is by Yousuf Karsh for Wisdom Magazine in Aug. 1956 and is now in the public domain via Wikipedia.org.

By Patricia Bouweraerts —

Quote by Jonas Salk, M.D.
Dr. Dale Mericle worked for a large medical practice in Iowa, and the partners were having a dinner meeting one evening — an evening that would change his mind about intuition.

Before going to the meeting, he planned to get a take-out meal for his wife and daughter. He was driving, passing the large uphill yard in front of a church.

“I think that it is the First Presbyterian Church,” he said. “It’s on the hill on Bluff (Boulevard) at about Sixth Street. As I was driving to get the pizza I could see the man on a large lawn tractor mowing the grass and a little girl sitting by a tree playing with dolls or something. On the way back, as I passed, I saw the man off of the tractor and talking loudly, screaming, I can’t be sure but I knew he was in distress.

“In my mind I immediately knew that he had hit the little girl with the tractor. I just knew that. I did a U-turn immediately and went up the drive to the church. By that time, he had already gone inside with her. For some reason, I was wearing whites. So when I entered, and was backlit by the door, I probably looked like an angel. I saw the little girl who is bleeding heavily from her thigh. I told him to grab some towels. And put pressure on them. I believe they had already called an ambulance. Then I got in touch with Frank Rogers, one of the best surgeons I’ve ever seen, and we took care of her at Mercy Hospital.”

Intuition may be an educated scientific guess, or it could be based on information that your subconscious mind picks up not processed by your conscious mind. It could be a psychic phenomenon, or intuition may be a function of the brain not yet discovered. Researchers from Princeton University in New Jersey to the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California have differing theories about intuition, but many have described ways it can be a useful tool in one’s working or personal life.

“What made me specifically look at that hillside on each of my trips? … I was just going to get pizza,” Dr. Mericle added.

What is intuition?

“Intuition: The Inside Story” is a book of essays written by authors who studied together during a 1994 summer research project at Princeton University. They were at the time Fellows of the Academy of Consciousness Studies at Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory.

“A variety of terms are used interchangeably with intuition, such as ‘right brain thinking,’ ‘gut feeling,’ ‘hunch’ and so forth,” writes contributing author Marcie Boucouvalas, professor of adult learning at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. “Advancing our understanding of intuition necessitates recognition that it may manifest as a mental thought, an emotional feeling, a spiritual experience, or even in a visceral sense.”

She writes that throughout history intuition has been called the “Eureka” moment of scientists and mathematicians, or “Muses,” the creative inspiration of composers and artists. Then, during the 1800’s, the Western world embraced scientific methods — and thinking about the mystery of intuitive knowing went out of fashion.

“While many hold the position that the source (of intuition) is a direct apprehension that lies outside sensory channels and analytic thought, others claim that such knowledge may indeed come through the senses first, but through subliminal or non-conscious awareness that is stored in the unconscious before coming into consciousness,” Boucouvalas wrote.

Members of the Academy think that including intuition, along with logic, brings about wholeness in humans to best function in the world. The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) is a nonprofit research organization founded in 1973 by astronaut Edgar Mitchell. It studies what consciousness is in relation to the brain, and explores theories of unseen connections between living organisms. Boucouvalas wrote that an executive director of IONS, Winston Franklin, has stressed that humans “are not complete with total reliance on the rational or logical.”

Dean Radin, Ph.D., is lead scientist at IONS, and an adjunct psychology professor at Sonoma State University, Calif.

Radin said during a 20/20 TV episode of 2012 that some people could predict the emotional tone of a picture. He found that one in five study participants showed heart, skin and brain reactions up to nine seconds before they saw an evocative picture on a screen.

“There are over 40 studies like this now reported around the world,” he said during the video. “There’s no doubt at all that it is not chance.”

He also said that he hasn’t always believed in premonition, or pre-sentiment, “as a scientist I tend to base belief on evidence.”

Intuition to support teamwork, work relationships

Kathleen Berry Image

Kathleen Berry, marketing manager for noncredit programs at WDCE, Truckee Meadows Community College, and author. She was named Best Female Writer in Reno News & Review’s Best of Northern Nevada 2014.

Author Kathy Berry was skeptical about intuition before she experienced it directly. She is marketing manager for noncredit programs at Workforce Development and Continuing Education, Truckee Meadows Community College, in Reno, Nevada.

Berry was chosen as an impartial observer in a 2007 investigation by a TV news crew and paranormal experts of Nevada’s long-closed Goldfield Hotel. Her experience there completely changed her opinion, and she wrote the memoir “A Reluctant Spirit: A True Tale of God, Ghosts and a Skeptical Christian,” published in 2013, available on Amazon.com.

“I thought it was silly and that if you can’t see and can’t scientifically prove something it cannot exist,” she said. “Experiencing the spirit realm blew apart my views on reality, spirituality and energy. There is much more to reality than what we see. All life and spirits are energetically connected. What we project energetically, we attract — not in ‘The Secret’ kind of way, as I also believe you have to work to achieve goals.”

She said that intuition helps her start her work day and creates better working relationships.

“Personally, I believe it’s more important for setting an intention for your day,” Berry said. “I will recognize everyone I meet as having value or I will clear my mind and focus more clearly on work tasks. …Workplace relationships are stronger when you set a daily intention to honor those you work with,” Berry added. “I make it a point to ask the Higher Power to fill me with divine love and to help me spread that to everyone I interact with. This has helped me to limit the number of unproductive confrontations.”

She added that noticing what stands out to a person during a job interview may give reliable knowledge about what it would feel like to work at the prospective company.

“Pay attention to your comfort level while there and when you meet people,” Berry said. “Do they make you feel comfortable and at ease? Or do they make you feel insignificant? Once home, meditate on whether you’d be a good fit and pay attention to your feelings.”

Solving problems at work using intuition as a tool

Berry agrees with the researchers at Princeton and the IONS about combining intuition and rationality.

“Intuition is a great companion to logical thinking,” she said. “I try to keep the balance of both on every project I work on.”

Sometimes an unexpected impasse can seem to block progress on a work project.

“Intuition helps me to let go.” she said. “To stop pushing when I run into a wall. To have faith that there is another way that will manifest itself. When I relax and stop beating myself up over a problem, I find that a solution presents itself.”

The book, “The Hidden Intelligence: Innovation Through Intuition” was written by Sandra Weintraub, a management consultant for Fortune 500 firms and adjunct professor of management at Brandeis University.

“Because this intelligence is neither logic nor emotion, it can transcend all other intellectual abilities to help us make wise judgments when there is not enough data,” Weintraub wrote.

She lists ways an intuitive insight can be recognized in the mind, body, emotions or found in experiences out of your control, including the following:

  • Hunch
  • Sudden memory, or lyrics to a song
  • Internal seeing or hearing
  • A new connection between dissimilar ideas
  • Awareness that events are flowing in a direction
  • Glimpse of the bigger picture
  • Muscle contraction or upset stomach
  • Increasing or decreasing energy for needed actions
  • A sudden change in feelings about a situation
  • An unusual coincidence
  • A job loss that leads to a better work situation
  • All other options disappear but one

Weintraub wrote that data and predictability is valued in our society, while intuition is sometimes viewed as having little or unproven value. Conversely, at the top levels of U.S. companies, such as at 3M and American Greetings Corporation; chief officers recognize the importance of intuition in decision-making, creativity and overall success.

“Eighty percent of the CEOs whose profits doubled over a five-year period were found to have above-average intuitive powers, according to research by John Mihalsky and E. Douglas Dean at the New Jersey Institute of Technology,” she wrote.

Weintraub thinks one of the reasons that this is so is because intuitive people over time develop an ability to perceive an entire situation during a sudden burst, or leap, of logical thought. In this, she agrees with the prior work of Michael Michalko, author of “Thinkertoys”.

An idea begins with intuition.

Sandra Weintraub

A possible explanation involves the unconscious mind

Slide Showing Research Numbers Presented During Schwerdtfeger's TED Talk

Screen capture of slide during Patrick Schwerdtfeger’s August 2012 TEDx Talks presentation. Captured on March 13, 2016.

Patrick Schwerdtfeger, author and keynote speaker, presented this similar explanation of a leap of logic in his 2012 TEDx Talk, “Learned Intuition.”

“You see, it turns out that there is a massive difference between the processing power of the unconscious mind and the processing power of the conscious mind,” he said. “There’s a bunch of research going on in this area and the numbers vary somewhat between them, but the conservative consensus is that the unconscious mind can process at least 10 million data points in any given situation. … Meanwhile, your conscious mind can only keep track of about 40 — or up to 150, again depending on the research.”

Schwerdtfeger then calculates out the numbers during his talk.

“But let’s use 10 million and 100 to keep the numbers easy,” he said. “That means that 99.999 percent of the observations you make you’re not even consciously aware of. The information came in. It came in through your eyes and your ears and it made it into your conscious mind, but you were never consciously aware that you made those observations.”

Exercises to develop intuition

Laura Day is a professional training coach and intuitive who provides training sessions to companies such as Seagate Technology, and intuitive forecasts to firms including the William Morris talent agency, private individuals and celebrities. She is a New York Times bestselling author of seven books.

Day does not agree that intuition comes from the unconscious mind and writes that it is more of a sense or hidden ability.

“Although the intuitive self often borrows the language of the unconscious to describe itself, the unconscious and the place from which we receive intuitive data are actually different,” she wrote in her book “Practical Intuition.”

Day believes that anyone can become more intuitive — that it can be developed much like your muscles can be strengthened. Two of her books that provide step-by-step exercises to develop intuition are “Practical Intuition” and “How to Rule the World from Your Couch.”

“A common misconception about intuition is that it means not having to think about things,” Day wrote in “Practical Intuition.” “Even the expression ‘going with your gut’ implies that intuition does not take place in the head. Simply not thinking logically, however, does not mean you’re being intuitive. In fact, while using intuition you are actively observing and recording your impressions, interpreting them, and finally integrating them with your other mental processes.”

Also, by trusting your gut feelings, you keep your stress under control.

Kathy Berry

Weintraub also lists intuition-developing exercises in her book — using metaphors, journal keeping and dream interpretation. Here is an example of using metaphors to gain information about someone you might want to know better in your business or personal life.

“With your eyes open or closed, bring this person into your awareness as you become centered and quiet,” she wrote. “Then, close your eyes and become aware of your breathing. Notice how you feel in your body and the thoughts going through your mind. Now picture the person as an animal and think about all the characteristics of that animal.”

Is John Smith a bull, powerful but dangerous, or maybe even temperamental? After doing this exercise with metaphor, a person may use the intuitive result along with logical thought, observations and emotions.

Stress relief

“Tapping into your intuition can have a profound effect on your well-being, including your health, relationships, and work life,” Weintraub wrote.

A contributing author to the Princeton book describes play and intuition as related. Charles Laughlin, professor of anthropology and religion at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, wrote that for social mammals to play, they cannot be distressed. There is a relationship between feeling secure, interested in the world and the spontaneity of play.

“The neurocognitive growth facilitated by play involves intuitive learning, and intuitive insights frequently arise as a consequence of ‘playing around’ with a problem,” he wrote.

So, playing and intuition can help solve problems. People also need to relax in order to best do either of these two activities. And combining logical, emotional and intuitive thinking helps a person to achieve a better balance. Kathy Berry thinks there is an association of trusting your intuition with relieving stress.

“Also, by trusting your gut feelings, you keep your stress under control,” Berry said.

2 comments

  1. Sonny Altic - June 15, 2016 8:09 am

    I love it when people come together and share opinions, great blog, keep it up.

    • admin - June 16, 2016 3:39 am

      Thanks Sonny. The content is well-researched and the quotes are from experts. Thanks for reading! Sincerely, Patricia