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Applying Intuition In Business

You have probably heard the story of a turkey, fed for 999 days by a farmer, each passing day confirming turkey’s trust that the farmer loves the turkey in a life respecting way. Turkey’s life including. But on the 1000th day, just before Thanksgiving, the turkey is in for a big surprise…

There is this Bulgarian proverb “Too much good portends no good” and it seems that the turkey from Nasim Taleb’s story was not introduced to it. What is more, the turkey confused the world of uncertainty with one of the calculated risk. And the turkey illusion is probably not so often in turkeys, but mostly in people. We often need to go beyond expectations and that is why prediction is not enough. We need to tap into our intuition.

The simplest science based advice one can give you when it comes to utilizing your intuitive thinking is as follows: ‘If you are in an uncertain world, make it simple. If you are in a world that’s highly predictable, make it complex.’ This simplicity consumed the time of good forty years of academic effort of Gerd Gigerenzer and when it comes to intuition applied in decision making, all roads lead to the German psychologist.


Opening the chapter of a new year is a good time to develop a new skill and first thing we need to admit about intuition is that is a skill indeed. As a professional, I often use my gut feeling to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to an opportunity and it usually proves right. The way I apply it is the way most of us would and it is called claircognizance, the ability for a person to acquire psychic knowledge without knowing how or why they know it. You drive to work and you should turn right but for some reason you continue straight and later, while listening to the news on the radio, you learn that there was high traffic on the route you miraculously avoided. The miracle, however, has a name and it is called intuition.

As a coach and NLP practitioner I see that the most supportive way for people to find their own healthy dose of intuitive thinking is by guided imagination, visualization and full presence. What it creates for them is a shortcut to inner wisdom. Symbolic imagination is a limitless source of insight and knowledge, and I am happy to have seen plenty of times how it can help people experience a profound mind-shift. Hence they see new perspectives for themselves. It may sound suspicious to the conventional mind but a rising level of acceptance is nudging towards this way of thinking. One prerequisite for applying intuition is to veer from probability theory and investigate smart heuristics or rule of thumb, as prof. Gigerenzer calls it. Simply put, this is our ability to know things. Heuristics is an unconscious form of intelligence based on our stored experiences and is a human tool we all possess to deal with an uncertain world.


Cecilia Yeung, a Canadian trainer and coach with 25 years of experience in sales, marketing and strategizing, echoes the opinion that many C-level executives use intuition in decision making, and they are either not consciously aware of using it or they do not advertise that they access it for fear of being mocked. Yeung leads a virtual program that combines the conventional characteristics of bringing business minds together to solve problems with specific mind conditioning and intuitive techniques that are atypical and novel. The premise of her process is that people already have the answers and by using mind and intuition techniques, will be able to see beyond the plethora of information available externally.

“There is no single template for using intuition and it differs for every individual. The good news is that anyone who thinks, feels and senses could develop this ability. Any leader or business owner with a track record of success will know that even when the evidence or data proved the contrary, certain decisions made from a hunch, a distinct awareness or trusting an inner voice have revealed to be right, accurate or disarmingly precise. Accessing one’s intuition may be as simple as quieting the mind or ascending to a meditative state. For others, it may be engaging in activities that suspend the rational mind’s incessant thoughts such as walking in nature, surfing or listening to music. The focus is on seeking validation from the internal channels of information, which includes the subconscious mind.

I truly wish for everyone to realize that there is far more insightful power, illuminating knowledge and profound wisdom than our thinking minds offer. I recommend reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink, The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” and “Stealing Fire” by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal to learn more about the validity of using intuition in business, how to access the subconscious mind and case studies of how unconventional wisdom may help with business growth.”  

Tapping into this unconventional approach, is intriguing as one develops a relationship with the powerful subconscious. Here are a few tips from Cecilia Yeung on how to raise your intuitive thinking:

  1. Make meditation a regular practice, even if only for a few minutes per day.
  2. Take ‘alpha’ breaks which is the relaxed brain state before waking or when daydreaming. Right before the thinking mind takes over, immerse into the symbols, quiet messages and hypnotic awareness. Meditation is a useful way for the brain to reach alpha state.
  3. Be aware of symbols, in dreams and waking moments. The subconscious does not communicate with language but instead, with metaphors, symbols and archetypes. Paying closer attention to the symbols will help you gain access to intuition.
  4. Code your subconscious for answers and solutions by giving instructions before going to sleep. Your dreams may reveal powerful insights.
  5. ‘Program’ the mind with repeated statements or as they are known in personal development, affirmations. We operate from years of subconscious programming and we have the ability to change the conditioning consciously. ‘I don’t have enough time’ is a typical program that we run on repeat and we can override it with ‘I am using my time wisely’.


Albert Einstein once said, ‘The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift’. Before jumping on this insight with the determination of a New Year’s resolution, we need to admit that this epiphany to tap into the ‘gift’ occurred for Einstein after gaining substantial experience in the field of ‘rational’. When exploring intuition as a business tool, please bear in mind a few scientifically proven facts:

  • Intuition in one domain does not guarantee good intuition in another;
  • Intuition leads to cognitive and social biases, like the anchoring effect, where decisions are swayed by the first piece of information thrown at us;
  • Stress triggers heuristic thinking – habits and short-cuts – but it degrades more sophisticated intuitive processing;  
  • We tend to get attached to intuitive beliefs;
  • Intuition is highly efficient if we don’t think about it too much.

Intuition is a tool at our disposal and this brings some relief as we carefully open the chapter of 2021 in our lives and business. It can serve us as a torch but we need to discover it as a lantern first. It stems from experience and offers us confirmation in the present moment, in our attempts to sense the emerging future. Whether we should trust our intuition depends not on the strength of it, but on the structure of the domain we are operating in.

The ultimate practical goal in employing intuition in business would be to avoid confusing scenarios of uncertainty with scenarios of calculated risk.

This article is first published as a guest article in Trending Topics:

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