by Sue Hawkes, CEO of YESS! and author of “Chasing Perfection: Shatter The Illusion; Minimize Self-Doubt & Maximize Success“
Several years ago, I participated in a women’s leadership program focused on embracing what power was in all senses of the word. Intuition wasn’t one of the topics listed on the agenda. However, it was an incredible component of our leadership work together. On Friday night, the twenty-six of us were given an assignment: we were to transform a nursing home facility to have a significant, positive impact for its residents and staff — the next day! We were told to bring everything we needed with us. We couldn’t spend any of our own money, but we could get people to donate money, items, or their talents. In addition, we could each bring one partner to double the number of our teammates. We didn’t know how important that would be.
So we brainstormed and planned for a few hours; people came up with all kinds of things, from doing the residents’ hair to clipping nails and doing manicures, to cleaning hallways and walls and bringing in scented candles to improve the institutional smells. Some brought music; some brought games and crafts to do with the residents; someone even received a large food donation. The plan included personal care, creating ambiance, cooking, cleaning, and other activities.
Sounds simple, right? On the day itself, we were told we could not speak. We couldn’t talk to anyone to coordinate anything when we arrived; we had our plan and had to trust it. The good news was our guests could speak. However, none of them were in on the planning. When you invited your guest, you couldn’t explain exactly what that person was going to be doing. You could only explain when and where to meet you.
Surprisingly, this was the most flawlessly executed event I’d ever participated in: Nobody overthought, nobody overstressed. I was moved to tears many times that day by the graceful experience that unfolded. It was beautiful.
Intuition is recognizing a need and filling it easily without effort or stress, offering your unique contribution with nothing more for you to do. It’s knowing the answer so deeply you do not need data to validate your actions. You don’t have to know how you know; you just know. And we all have this although we aren’t always able to access it.
If you’re not in the habit of trusting your intuition or aren’t sure you can rely on it, you can connect with your intuitive abilities by learning to listen to your inner voice. The key to reconnection is creating the quiet space in which it can happen, disconnecting and unplugging technology, and allowing intuition to happen in that space.
When you’re in touch with your intuition, you’re more effective — and you’re less stressed. I believe you create your own stress. For example, traffic is not an inherently stressful event; you bring the interpretation of stress to it. Some people react to it with gratitude: “Awesome, more time to listen to my audio book,” or “I’m enjoying the person in the car with me and now we have more time together.” Some people see it as a business opportunity: “Great, I was able to make seven phone calls.” Others scream at the cars, flipping them off and driving erratically. (For the record, I have done all of the above.)
So what’s behind the difference in these attitudes? When you’re at the intersection where peace meets grace, you’re centered enough to ask, “What’s the good news about this?” or “How do I make this work for me?” When you’re tuned in to it, there’s usually a dramatic reduction in stress because when you’re “on” with your gut, you’re aligned with energy well beyond your intellect. The logical mind is a wonderful tool, but it has its limits. When you’re truly aligned — mind, body, spirit, intellect — you’re open and receptive to bigger things. That’s when you find the love of your life; that’s when you find your next big business solution, and you might even find the hobby you always wanted. It’s when you suddenly see a way to streamline a bottlenecked process or come up with a brilliant new business offering. That’s when you take a risk, take the plunge, dare to do something you’d never thought you would or could. This is when innovation happens.
I will warn you, your brain will try to stop you. Your brain’s most important job is to protect your body, to minimize risk, and to maintain life as it is. When we find ourselves in a corner, we’re going to instinctively rely on logic or past experience. Often, logic fails us, and what worked in the past doesn’t always work in a new, similar situation. Letting go of the past and being open to questioning what’s possible unlocks the door to your inner wisdom.
Grace is there to be found, if you can quiet your mental chatter and plug into it, through practices such as meditation, journaling, and being in nature. Intuition is heard when you crack the door open to let what’s gnawing at you into your conscious awareness. Some people are more skilled at letting it in. The rest of us can quiet ourselves for temporary periods and access it. The more you practice quieting your mind, the more freely your intuition will flow.
You need to find your healthy balance between your spiritual, intuitive self and your logical mind. They don’t negate each other; they enhance and support each other. Using practices to open your mind to your subtle, quiet voice may be how you accelerate your next great breakthrough, whether that’s seeing a new path for yourself or for your business, or recognizing the love of your life when that person shows up. It may be subtle right now, but intuition is your superpower.
Sue Hawkes is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, Certified EOS Implementer, Certified Business Coach, WPO Chapter Chair, and globally recognized, award-winning seminar leader. “Chasing Perfection: Shatter The Illusion; Minimize Self-Doubt & Maximize Success” is her fourth book. She is CEO of YESS! and has designed and delivered dynamic, transformational programs for thousands of people.