Steve Jobs famously said ‘let intuition be your guide’.

Most people seem to think that there are people who are just genuinely intuitive and others who are not. What is intuition and where does it come from? Is it some kind of talent? Is there some way to inculcate it?

All of us have intuition built into us; we do not give it a chance. Intuition is a sub-conscious process and hence, it is very difficult to be aware of it. Or in other words if you are aware of it, you would negate it (It would then be a conscious process!).

Nevertheless, all of us have the ability to arrive at these insights and epiphanies. The reason that these do not arrive at insights with striking frequency is because we are not doing a great deal of the ground work that is needed to arrive at them.

According to the dictionary:

Intuition ~ The faculty of knowing or understanding something without reasoning or proof

I have a different definition; Intuition is the subconscious processing of information that we have acquired over a period of time, which leads to an insight. The reasoning is subconscious and hence not obvious.

Our subconscious mind is better at solving problems than our conscious mind.

In an experiment conducted in the U.S., researchers asked students to sit in front of the screen with four quadrants. An X would appear in one quadrant at a time and they were asked to hit a corresponding button. Amongst random Xs they put in a complex pattern which was governed by an algorithm. After 4000 trials the students were much faster and accurate.

When asked after the experiment not one had noticed any pattern. When asked specifically about a pattern none of them had identified one or could figure the algorithm.

To make sure that this was not the way things naturally functioned, they run the experiment again but this time the algorithm was changed after 3500 trials and accuracy plummeted. They said it was as if their fingers lost the rhythm.

Their subconscious minds had successfully solved the complex algorithm while the conscious mind was completely unaware of it.  We are capable of learning things that we do not even know we are learning.

Nobody ever taught you your mother tongue!

The first step to inculcate intuition is to acquire a great deal of information. This does not mean that you have to be on a survey mode all of the time. It means talking to people who have varied points of view. If there is a particular thing/subject that you would like to know better, talk to more people who are involved in that industry or area. That is all you need to ever do. The subconscious would take care of the rest.

I think there would be little argument against the fact that Steve Jobs had great intuition. If you read any book about him, the one thing that really stands out is that, he used to spend a great deal of time talking to people. He would speak to most of them about life, technology and how technology was evolving. These were general conversations in the minds of those who spoke to him but he was collecting the information from all of them and letting it stew.

Talking about a wide array of things instead of being boxed into a single subject is very important. Human behaviour is rich and strange. Every outcome in life is somehow influenced by human behaviour. Talking about topics that are varied results in understanding human behaviour better.

The better you understand human behaviour the more successful you will be in life. Human behaviour is completely unpredictable and fundamental basis of every business.

Once all of this information has been acquired, the mind then plays the part of slow-walking you to an epiphany. If you need to utilise the insight, you will realise the value of it. If not, it is just another observation that is stored away somewhere in the corners of your mind.