We used to deal a lot with intuition in my Special Forces days. It was important to have it, trust it and use it. I remember a talk by one of our leaders who had been there and done that. He told us that when we came to a situation, we had to trust our instincts/intuition on what to do.
Spilt Second Decisions
For example, driving down a dusty, rocky road in some foreign country, we might come up to a checkpoint. There wouldn’t be time for a lot of discussion. We had to make a snap judgment whether to ready our weapons and take out the people or to stop and find out what they wanted. Your intuition should tell you what to do.
Your intuition is not some supernatural sense. It is your brain process, hundreds if not thousands of inputs coming in from all directions. Is the guy on the right sweating really heavy? Is there a funny looking spot on the ground? Are their fingers on the triggers or off?
Now the question you might have is how to you get the right intuition… It is trained like everything else. First, we didn’t send a junior person out by themselves at the beginning. They always went out with a senior to observe and learn from. Secondly we always talked about situation awareness. Be aware what is around you, watch people’s reactions and learn from them.
You can take this and use this in your daily life. Actively work on training your intuition. Watch what is going around you. Get your eyes off your cell phone and see how the sane person engages the barista and how the strange person engages them. This will give you a basis for making judgment calls later on when it really counts. Real world interactions give you experience in how people react in different situations.
Now a word of warning here – don’t go off of what you see on TV and the movies. That is not reality. Interpersonal dynamics are much more complicated and you will be fooled by what is stereotypically portrayed in the media. You need to observe with your own eyes and see what really happens.
In my book – Get ER Done – The Green Beret Guide to Productivity, I talk about how to train to shoot dead on without thinking about it. It is just like with intuition. Take your time, develop the right gut feelings and you will be able to make the snap judgments that will serve you well.