Intuition – or that little voice that says “Don’t step THERE”

I’ve been playing with Intuition.   You know that voice in your head that can say “Oh – try that” or “Don’t step THERE!” We all have the voice.  The question is, how often am I willing to first listen and second give credence to what it tells me?

Back in my corporate days, you wouldn’t have caught me dead paying attention to my intuition. I was so in my head!   Any new idea had to be validated through research, published (HBR was always a good source) and widely recognized as valid.   Are you aware of how limiting those head games make us?  I didn’t either – never even considered it. I was such a good corporate player.  Turns out I played pretty small.

Before I left my nearly-30 years at IBM.  I read Joseph Jaworsky’s and Peter Senge’s Synchronicity:  The Inner Path of Leadership.  It made me very squirmy.  What they said about slowing down, being aware of energy beyond themselver and the success and happiness they found when they let go was very foreign to me.

Not anymore – I’m no longer a ‘good corporate player.”  Nope,  I’m just not “good” in the sense of being too analytical nor am I corporate. However, I am still a dedicated player.   And I choose to play with intuition. What a cool place to play. Here are the challenges:  FIRST I have to discern the little voice. That’s a challenge because it can be just a “no, not that” twinge.  Then I have to pay attention.  I have to slow down –  a competency I’m working on – to even get the signal.  Finally, I have to believe that what I’ve just perceived is significant.  I don’t know about your little voice, but mine rarely offers more the tiniest view into what is coming.

Sometimes its clear that I will never know for  sure if it was my intuition and if it worked (like when the voice tells me to go a different road when I’m driving).  I do know I’ve had a time or two that the voice has said, “jump off here” that I didn’t and got stuck in traffic for a couple of hours – no kidding!   Well, I give intuition credit for knowing more than I do.  And its comforting to realize I’m not alone.  Not just that – that I’m not alone and the energy around me is actually on my side!!

So where is this taking us?  To a place of slowing down and having faith in something besides ourselves.  As leaders, we all know that slowing down helps us catch mistakes, separate the churn into definable streams and have enough energy to be up for the marathon of leadership.  It also gives us the opportunity to be aware of coincidence, intuition, or whatever you want to call it.  I find it amazing.  By the way, I still have to shush the corporate voice in my head.  She thinks its nonsense.  I believe she is wrong.

Becoming a new type of leader

Sam is a former Navy Seal (in the US, it is one of the most elite of the fighting forces we have…they are a special breed).  And Sam has always thought people ought to believe what he tells them – because he told them!  It would be so much faster if they would just do what he told them.  It sounds a little like command and control, doesn’t it. Well, Sam has been playing a Bigger Game in his company for the past year.  There is a lot of background to what that means and how they learned to play their game differently – if you have questions just drop a note to Sara.

Back to Sam.  His challenge is to invite parts of his company to join him in a new way of conducting business.  They have always worked on their own and now Sam is part of a team that creates working alliances with other companies like Cisco and IBM.  You would think the sales people in his company would jump at the chance to work with companies like that!! After all, their offers wold be so much bigger with players like those on their team.  Not so much.  The pull of the status quo is powerful – even if it is not working.  And telling those people they were wrong and getting frustrated was not getting much traction, either.

So Sam quieted his urge to tell people what to do and began to ask to find out what compelled them instead.  He learned a lot more about therm, their business and priorities and began to appreciate the position of those people who weren’t rushing out to follow him.  Before, he had been just following his own urges, judging their lack of responsiveness and trying to force them into action…and making no progress.  When he engaged as a full partner, not the manager -becoming aware of their needs and values, Sam was able to get curious and merge their wants with his.  His new behavior grew out of that awareness and appreciation.  He showed up very differently.  He was able to meet his global teams where they were, point them to the new future and invite them begin to move together.  The team has responded and that which was stuck, is now moving and has become a source of celebration!

And he is amazed and delighted.   Sam has become a new type of leader.