Not long ago, I wrote in this space about intuition, focusing mostly on intuitive intelligence: those leaps of insight that happen after you study, research, analyze... and then let everything sit for a while.
But now I want to take this a step further and focus on a more profound form of intuition, when you somehow gain knowledge or insight without any logical explanation for how you acquired that knowledge.
This is where many professionals get uncomfortable. If you can't prove it, you can't trust it, they say.
But according to the Pew Research Center, nine-in-10 American adults say they believe in God or a universal spirit. Sixty-three percent says that their belief is absolutely certain.
They say this despite the fact that science has yet to prove the existence of God.
In another Pew study, 59% of American adults said that science and religion are often in conflict, but only 30% think their religious beliefs conflict with science.
I cite these statistics only to point out that we can't validate everything we believe, and we can't fully explain how the world works.
In many respects, the purest forms of intuition closely resemble faith. We've all heard stories about someone who suddenly knew that a loved one had died unexpectedly, despite the complete lack of any facts or communication to back up that intuitive feeling. And we all know the spooky feeling of hearing that, yes, in fact, their loved one had died at that exact moment.
Those of us who believe in God do not abandon our faith when we go to work, but somehow many of us abandon our willingness to accept that things happen even though science cannot explain them.
Am I suggesting that leaders start to run companies based entirely on intuition? No way.
But here's what might make sense.
What if you looked at intuition as an important clue?
To continue my previous example, the person who sits bolt upright in bed fearful for her relative will most likely then try to contact her loved one. In the process, she will (sadly) discover the tragedy she feared actually happened.
It would be irrational for this person to simply ignore the feeling and turn on her television.
In the same manner, when you get an intuitive jolt, it is irrational to ignore it. Dig deeper, do some research and see if it leads somewhere that holds up to intellectual analysis. But don't let intellectual analysis prevent you from receiving the message in the first place.
When I was a child, it was considered impossible to sit on top of a mountain, far from any wires or building and communicate instantly with someone 7,000 miles away. But yesterday I did just that using my iPhone.
Ninety-nine percent of the people reading this article probably can't explain how the photo I took of a 10,000-foot peak made it in less than one second from my phone to my friend's phone in Asia. But you still believe in smartphones, right?
If science told you that intuition works just like a smartphone and that you can buy iNtuition at any Apple Store, you'd race to join a line that goes around the block (probably twice).
Don't abandon science, reason, facts, evidence or logic. But also don't expect science to explain everything just yet. Intuition, like faith, may be one of those things that work better than science can yet explain... especially if you open yourself to the possibilities.