Was (Steve) Jobs smart? Not conventionally. Instead, he was a genius. That may seem like a silly word game, but in fact his success dramatizes an interesting distinction between intelligence and genius. His imaginative leaps were instinctive, unexpected, and at times magical. They were sparked by intuition, not analytic rigor. Trained in Zen Buddhism, Mr. Jobs came to value experiential wisdom over empirical analysis. He didn’t study data or crunch numbers but like a pathfinder, he could sniff the winds and sense what lay ahead.
He told me he began to appreciate the power of intuition, in contrast to what he called “Western rational thought,” when he wandered around India after dropping out of college. “The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do,” he said. “They use their intuition instead ... Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.”
The Genius of Jobs by Walter Issacson, The New York Times (10/29/11)
You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn't nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.
Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
While imagination is the source of inspiration in seeking new knowledge, it can also be dangerous if not subjected to discipline; a fertile imagination needs to be balanced by criticism and judgment. This is, of course, quite different from saying it should be repressed or crushed. The imagination merely enables us to wander into the darkness of the unknown where, by the dim light of the knowledge that we carry, we may glimpse something that seems of interest. But when we bring it out and examine it more closely it usually proves to be only trash whose glitter had caught our attention. Things not clearly seen often take on grotesque forms. Imagination is at once the source of all hope and inspiration but also of frustration. To forget this is to court despair.
The Art of Scientific Investigation W. I. B. Beveridge
UNStudio founder Ben van Berkel on the vital role of intuition on his creative process... He describes the first step of designing as sensing. Sensing requires unlimited curiosity, openness, and the ability to re-think the world around you. To do so Van Berkel, too, trusts his inner compass. Don’t confuse this with pure subjective feeling or clairvoyance: the Dutch architect emphasizes that while sensing indeed requires experiences that go beyond knowledge, intuition does not mean that you transcend all form of reasonable judgment. In fact, Van Berkel sees intuition as trained judgment, requiring a certain amount of professional mastery: “You learn to trust your gut through failure. Slowly, it then becomes trained judgment, as you train yourself to envision and see the important stuff.”
No one is forcing these luminary scientists to get involved in artistic hobbies. It’s a reflection of their curiosity. And sometimes, that curiosity leads them to flashes of insight. “The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition,” Albert Einstein reflected. His mother enrolled him in violin lessons starting at age 5, but he wasn’t intrigued. His love of music only blossomed as a teenager, after he stopped taking lessons and stumbled upon Mozart’s sonatas.
How to Raise a Creative Child, The New York Times (1/30/16) by Adam Grant
Let's say you've got a really good idea. And you've had good ideas before.
You show it to your colleagues. They analyze it. They tell you why it's not a good idea.
Do you go with your instinct? Is your gut reaction to be trusted? After all, you've been right before. After all, you've been wrong before.
The analysis, based on past events, certainly seems sound. But your instincts are the only way you're going to do something unsound.
And unsound things become hits. Sound ones never do.
Who Moved My Cheese was unsound. So was publishing a book two years after you started blogging every chapter. So was an expensive, unfitted, almost untailored suit from Milan. So was running against Joe Lieberman.
The challenge is not to somehow persuade those in search of soundness to change their minds. The challenge is to do enough of a gut check to decide whether you should defend your instinct. And then do it.
Seth Godin (7/26/06)
It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover.
You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself.
Intuition is the supra-logic that cuts out all the routine processes of thought and leaps straight from the problem to the answer.
Intuition comes very close to clairvoyance; it appears to be the extrasensory perception of reality.
Often you have to rely on intuition.
Intuition is the clear conception of the whole at once.
JOHANN KASPAR LAVATER
There is no logical way to the discovery of these elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance.
Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.