Monday, August 20, 2012

Intuition and Reason

I'm not a touchy-feely guy. When I hear people talking about going with your feelings or if it feels good, do it, I want to scream. My preference is for serious reasoning seasoned with depth.

But there is an exception and that is when someone with a lot of experience in a particular field is going to disclose a "sense" of what's going on. I know exactly what they're saying because there are plenty of times when clients hire me for just that, although it is usually dressed up as "analysis." For example, I may not be able to say precisely why I believe an executive or a federal monitoring agency is going to do X or Y under certain circumstances but my intuition - based on years of experience - leads me to a prediction and usually it is correct. [Marketing tip: Clients don't like inaccurate predictions.]

There is another factor that I've addressed before in other posts. Your intuition is better with bad news than with good. This may go back to the earliest days when man had to know whether it was safe to walk 20 steps away from the shelter entrance. Our survival instincts are alert to danger. We ignore such signals at our peril. We aren't nearly as savvy when it comes to spotting good things.

An important part of your career development involves increasing your ability to spot the bad. Everyone needs a B.S. Detector. If yours becomes dysfunctional, you'd better fix it fast. The Detector should buzz whenever someone tells you to ignore your sense that some situation is wrong. You and your ancestors spent many years developing that marvelous sense and your conclusions are not purely subjective. A logic is at work.

We just may not be able to describe what it is.

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