It all started with this Forbes article...

by Bruce Kasanoff

Intuition, argues Gerd Gigerenzer, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, is less about suddenly "knowing" the right answer and more about instinctively understanding what information is unimportant and can thus be discarded.

Gigerenzer, author of the book Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious, says that he is both intuitive and rational. "In my scientific work, I have hunches. I can’t explain always why I think a certain path is the right way, but I need to trust it and go ahead. I also have the ability to check these hunches and find out what they are about. That’s the science part. Now, in private life, I rely on instinct. For instance, when I first met my wife, I didn’t do computations. Nor did she."

I'm telling you this because recently one of my readers, Joy Boleda, posed a question that stopped me in my tracks:

What about intuition? It has never been titled as a form of intelligence, but would you think that someone who has great intuition in things, has more intelligence?

My "gut instinct" is to say yes, especially when we are talking about people who are already intellectually curious, rigorous in their pursuit of knowledge, and willing to challenge their own assumptions.

Let me put this a bit simpler. If all you do is sit in a chair and trust your intuition, you are not exercising much intelligence. But if you take a deep dive into a subject and study numerous possibilities, you are exercising intelligence when your gut instinct tells you what is - and isn't - important.

In some respects, intuition could be thought of as a clear understanding of collective intelligence. For example, most websites are today organized in an intuitive way, which means they are easy for most people to understand and navigate. This approach evolved after many years of chaos online, as a common wisdom emerged over what information was superfluous and what was essential (i.e. About Us = essential).

Theo Humphries argues that intuitive design can be described as "understandable without the use of instructions". This is true when an object makes sense to most people because they share a common understanding of the way things work.

You might say that I'm a believer in the power of disciplined intuition. Do your legwork, use your brain, share logical arguments, and I'll trust and respect your intuitive powers. But if you merely sit in your hammock and ask me to trust your intuition, I'll quickly be out the door without saying goodbye.

I say this from personal experience; the more research I do, the better my intuition works.

Albert Einstein said, "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."

Sometimes, a corporate mandate or group-think or your desire to produce a certain outcome can cause your rational mind to go in the wrong direction. At times like these, it is intuition that holds the power to save you. That "bad feeling" gnawing away at you is your intuition telling you that no matter how badly you might wish to talk yourself into this direction, it is the wrong way to go.

Smart people listen to those feelings. And the smartest people among us - the ones who make great intellectual leaps forward - cannot do this without harnessing the power of intuition.

Early one summer morning, I walked straight out to sea. In the photo above, I'm standing about a mile from the shoreline, but the water is only two inches deep.

I'm on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, on the Brewster Flats. At high tide, the water near shore is over my head. At low tide, the ocean retreats about a mile and a half. Even when you get to the ocean, it is just inches deep for almost as far as you can see.

So if you want to go swimming at low tide, you're out of luck. But if you want to go swimming at high tide, it's beautiful.

Timing is everything.

As the tides change, small fish dart back and forth at the edge of the ocean. They exist in a tiny, ever-changing zone between the ocean and the beach. By edge, I mean the water an inch or two deep that flows back and forth as minuscule waves lap the sand.

For these minnows, timing is the difference between life and death.

It's tempting to think that we live and work in a safer zone, with greater margin for error. In reality, we're a lot more like those fish than many folks imagine.

As I write this, The Once and Future Hurricane Hermine may or may not be churning towards us. This peaceful beach may or may not turn into a dangerous and foreboding landscape. The houses at the water's edge may be untouched, or they may be damaged.

It all depends on timing... will the storm linger in warm waters long enough to strengthen significantly or will it veer towards the coast?

We live in a ridiculously thin atmosphere surrounded by trillions of miles of frigid, airless space. We also exist on Earth during a time when it is not too cold and not too hot.

(Strike that. In some places, it IS too hot already.)

Success as a human being is dependent on a good sense of timing. You don't necessarily have to be smarter or more talented than others, you just have to have a better sense of timing.

If you know when to ask for a raise, when to buy - or sell - a house, when to start a company, when to propose, when to say yes (or no)... you will have a wonderful life.

Sadly, many people lack good timing, for one simple reason: they don't pay attention.

Do you?

Do you notice when your boss seems a little preoccupied?

Do you recognize when the market starts to shift ever so slightly, which may be an early sign that this would be a splendid time to start that company you've been dreaming about?

Do you notice hundreds of little shifts that happen every day, all around you?

You should.

More importantly, do you pay attention to your intuition? When your gut is telling you "danger! danger! danger!" do you heed the warning or ignore it?

When you've spent months researching, and thinking, and crafting a plan, do you take the time to pause and consider what's really important? I don't just mean "consider" with your conscious mind; I also mean employing your intuitive intelligence.

The more you want something, the more important it is to pay attention. The more you pay attention, the better your timing gets.

This, by the way, is why some people are so "lucky".

They pay attention.

Fortunately, I am willing to share with you my one-step, guaranteed method of paying attention:

#1: Pay attention

#2: There is no step two. Just pay attention.