Intuition is a great well, one that draws on a deeper sense of what it means to be human. In leadership, organization development and management consulting work, it has enormous value for it often opens doors to things that are mostly hidden from view: the staff member whose valuable insights are being taken for granted, the management promises from years past that have become an assumed practice of betrayals, the careful coverups by good people trying to do the right thing but who don’t feel confident anymore, the questions about strategy that have never been asked. No one tells you these things, but intuition can lead you to them through an inclination of mind more than some other kind of data. When it does there is often a very rich vein of gold to work with, an important opportunity to make things better.
I believe the furthest reach of intuition, beyond the “official” scope of most organizational practices, is about realizing a better or higher self, and helping others do the same. What I mean by this is that we are all on some sort of growth trajectory to realize our best potentials, but we are all too often in a place of stasis where there is as much energy in us to realize our potentials as there is “braking” and resistance to any new identity. What gets us past the stuck point is intuition. We intuit what we can be in thoughts that come forward in the empty moments, thoughts about how we can come to our higher senses, so to speak.
So we are not absolutely blocked. We may just have not been paying attention to the subtle messages around us, messages that have been unconsciously going out to the universe and coming back to us through our experiences. This is one of the most important reasons we cannot tell others what they should do with their dilemmas. Rather the work is more frequently about creating environments and dialogues that enable people to receive the inner messages meant for them.
Carl Jung was known for his statement that “What we do not bring to consciousness appears in our life as fate.” I mostly agree with this idea, but it doesn’t have to be fate, per se — it can just be the everyday things that happen to us, ones that aren’t nearly as rational as we may think they are. I have asked myself, for example, “Why is it I am working with this particular person just now in my career?” or “How was I called to help this organization in this way?” My stubborn inner cynic wants to dismiss such questions but another voice, part of the larger poetic enterprise of living still asks, and intuition won’t be denied its due, grounded as it is in the Implicate Order of things.
The answers to these questions are revealing. “I’m working with _______ because in darker moments I too often share his faithlessness about learning.” “I was called to work with this organization to discover just how powerful a real vision can be,” leading me by association to yet another thought: It can move minds to different worlds, as a truly visionary leader once told me about his own work.
Just the other day, I happened to pick a book from one of my bookshelves — a volume of short stories by Raymond Carver. It was midnight and I was tired, but wanted something to fill one of those empty moments. After reading a few stories I noticed who had given me the book, an old friend, a past client who had left an epigraph on the title page from another author, Don Marquis. I’d forgotten who had given me the book so it was a moment of gentle surprise and remembrance to see my friend’s name on the page along with his thanks for our friendship. Somehow out of randomness the book that night had come back into my hands to remind me that each of us is writing a book of poetry just by being alive. What Don Marquis said was this:
“Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon…and waiting for the echo.”
To me, that’s the way intuition works, too. You wait for the echo and in some magical way, it just arrives.
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