All great men are gifted with intuition. They know without reasoning or analysis, what they need to know. –Alexis Carrel
Did you know that when I first started in my career I made a mistake that almost lost my company a big wad of cash?
How did this happen? I was young, inexperienced, and ignored my intuition.
Here’s what happened:
I had just been promoted to assistant manager of the bank I worked for. The manager was away and it was the busiest day of the week. The lobby was jammed with lines in front of every teller’s station. And, all of this was going on while a HUGE wrecking ball swung wildly just outside my office window as it tore down the building next door.
Talk about being overwhelmed!
A customer I knew came to me to initial a check for a large amount that she wanted to split between two accounts. I initialed it without checking the signature on the check.
Right after I did that I got one of those “pings” you get in your gut that says, “I shouldn’t have done that,” but just then the wrecking ball swung toward my window again and I forgot all about it until the next morning when I got a call from the security department.
It turned out that the woman had forged her husband’s signature. Luckily we recovered the money and, you can bet I never did that again.
Chances are if you’ve been in your career for any length of time you’ve become an expert at it. Unlike I was at this time, you are what is called a “seasoned employee.” I was still green and wet behind the ears when this happened.
How long have you been in your current profession; five, ten, twenty or even thirty plus years?
It’s common that when a new employee is hired, he or she is paired with a more experienced worker to “learn the ropes,” right? And, even if not paired with a long time employee, don’t new employees often seek the advice of a more experienced worker as to how to do things?
When a complicated matter requiring a quick decision is needed at the office, are you that “go to guy or gal at work?”
If you answered yes to the above question, Congratulations! You have a lot to celebrate. You are an expert in your field. Along with being an expert you’ve developed what is referred to as “expert intuition.”
With age comes wisdom and with wisdom – “expert intuition.”
“Expert intuition” is a phrase popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2007 book, “Blink.” Expert intuition is said to kick-in after you’ve devoted approximately ten thousand hours to learning and doing something. Someone with this kind of expertise is able to quickly assess a situation to come up with a decision in just seconds, compared to a newbie in the field. This complex sorting of stored information takes place far beneath the surface of our conscious awareness.
Experience is the best teacher
For example, a contractor may come to a snap decision over whether to accept a job or not while a less seasoned contractor might need to go over the numbers and costs line by line to give the same customers an estimate. A seasoned nurse or doctor will be able to make a diagnosis based on the symptoms presented far quicker than an intern, or medical student. Take any profession or life skill such as developing intuition or parenting and apply the experience factor and you’ll find that the experienced person has developed “expert intuition” and, just “knows better.”
Practice develops expert intuition
As we become more practiced at something and encounter different variations of it throughout our lives the experience is filed away in our memory banks. When we come across a new scenario that needs to be handled our subconscious searches our memory to quickly pull out related facts that could apply in this situation.
It takes the brain only a split second to search beneath the surface and retrieve relevant stored information. When the answer is found it’s pulled up from the depths of our stored information so fast that it seems to “pop” into the mind. This is the “aha” moment we’re all familiar with and the reason experts react swiftly and effectively in emergency situations.
Intuition gets better with time
The reason why expert intuition gets better with time is because we have more life-long learning and experience – mistakes and all – to draw upon.
Think back to when you used to question the decisions your mother made for you. Didn’t she often say she said so, “Because I’m older and I know better?” Now you know that she wasn’t just saying that. It was the truth! She did know better.
The three elements that develop your intuition automatically:
1. Time. Do work you love. Time is one of the elements that helps you develop “expert intuition, ” Find something you love to do so that you’ll stick with it and give it the time it takes to develop your expert intuition.
2. Experience. Practice using what you know. The difference between book learning and hands on experience is huge. Only after you put your knowledge into practice can you call yourself an expert. Experience includes mistakes and, it’s how we learn our most valuable lessons.
3. Education. Never stop learning. Keep your knowledge up to date by constantly educating yourself in your field. The more information you file away, the more your mind will have to draw from when you try to solve a new problem at work.
In what area of life or career field are you an expert? Can you share any examples of “expert intuition?”
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P.S. To learn now to develop your intuition check out my books - Click here.