Mastering Intuitive Thinking (How We Make Up Our Minds)

The human brain is wired for laziness.

Your brain is constantly running a cost-benefit analysis.

Like any other well-evolved organism, we use mental shortcuts, which are more efficient to save energy.

As described by Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking Fast and Slow, we use two primary modes of thinking to process information and make decisions.

Mode 1 is intuitive, instant, unconscious, automatic, and emotional.
Mode 2 is slow, rational, conscious, reflective, reasoning, and deliberate.

At any point in time, your active thoughts and actions varies depending on what mode is running.

Slow, deliberate, focused and logical thinking is often applied to complex problems. Deliberate thought is more reliable but we rarely stop, reflect, and make slow decisions, because in many situations our responses are automatic hence the need to hone your intuitive thinking process.

The intuitive mind

Intuive thinking is an unconscious process for rapid action, judgment, and decisions. Most decisions we make are automatic.

Your brain develop unconscious habits for handling situations over time.

Our intuitions have been finely honed over evolutionary history for making quick decisions mostly in the social realm.

Using intuition, we translate our experiences into judgments, responses and actions. You rely on intuition when you make decisions without concrete proof, scientific facts, pychological evidence, or active reasoning.

Intuition helps us create expectations, connect the dots, flag inconsistencies and warn us of potential problems.

Albert Einstein has been widely quoted as saying, “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.”

Intuition could be called “knowing without knowing why”, “thinking with your heart” or “gut feeling”. It is this unseen force that drives us.

Your rational mind serves your intuition. Trust your gut, but it pays to think. Take a dive but consider other possibilities. Check your hunches.

Intuition, argues Gerd Gigerenzer, author of the book Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious is less about suddenly “knowing” the right answer and more about instinctively understanding what information is unimportant and can thus be discarded.

Important decisions like choosing a partner, settling on a career and deciding whether you want to have children or not are best made by our intuitive mind, informed by decision models you have gathered overtime.

With true life-changing decisions, you rely heavily on intuition.

Unfortunately if the models you have built overtime for making quick and intuitive decisions are wrong, you are likely to suffer from unconscious incompetence. That affects your choices and judgement in life and business.

Intuitive predictions left unchecked, tend to be overconfident and overly extreme.

Don’t confuse desire with intuition.

Intensely wanting something to happen is not a reason to ignore commonsense intuition.

People are prone to apply causal thinking inappropriately, to situations that require logical reasoning.

But by learning, observing, and working to improve the details that informs your inutive thinking, you can make better gut decisions.

That sudden realisation of a better approach to quick judgement can help you become consciously competent to make better gut decisions.

You can work on noticing situations, recognizing patterns and discerning best possible actions. You can get better at it.

Override your intuition when it misleads you.

Intuition is fallible.

Your mind excels at holding onto inaccurate beliefs and faulty biases. To get unstuck from a stubborn mindset, give yourself time to form a different story or better still invoke your rational mind.

Intuitive people slow down enough to hear their inner voice.

A key to harnessing intuition is to observe patterns, aruges Professor Gary Klein, author of The Power of Intuition: How to Use Your Gut to Make Better Decisions at Work. Patterns include routines for responding, known as “action scripts,” he says.

Intuition helps us decide how to react, and analysis ensures our intuition won’t mislead us.

When you’re intuitive you naturally become more observant and aware of your surroundings.

As a result, you will tend to make fewer mistakes, which improves your ability to make decisions throughout the day.

Dig deeper

My new course, Thinking in Models is open for enrollment. It’s designed to help you to think clearly, solve problems at multiple levels of depth, and make complex decisions with confidence. Join a community of people on a mission to think clearly, work better, solve problems at multiple levels of depths, and make complex decisions with confidence! Click here for details.

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