“I know immediately from putting my hand on the file whether it’s someone I can do business with or not—but I couldn’t say that to my colleagues.”
“Listen, this stuff that we’re discussing, it’s just between you and me, right? Other people wouldn’t understand.”
“I nearly got barred by the Law Society for using tarot cards with my clients.”
“I use angel cards and go to Goddess weekends, but you have to leave all that outside the business environment.”
Whatever about meaningful conversations on sex and money still being taboo in many ways, it seems that spirituality is still something that is below the radar in most business environments. I’m not talking about formal religious structures here. I mean that sense of living life from a broader perspective which acknowledges the non-physical part of us that is part of a greater whole.
The quotes above are from clients and friends, all of whom have held solid, senior roles in business, and all of whom have been quietly exploring their intuitive and spiritual aspects ‘on the side’.
At a time when thought leaders in strategic management have no difficulty in advocating the importance of right brain creativity and gut instinct, it seems a little out of kilter that there would still be a reluctance in acknowledging the use of less analytical and logical ‘tools’ in our business lives. And yet this seems to be exactly how it still is.
In business, we have a strange relationship with the less-tangible, dare I say feminine, aspects of life—with the more fluid, receptive, intuitive aspects. Every new set of circumstances, each new legal challenge and technological advancement, brings with it a rush to create new processes, systems and regulations, all of which are very much the product of the left-brain and yang aspects of humanity.
With a good team of directors in place, there may be an emphasis on visioning and innovation within a company—both of which require a degree of harnessing our more intuitive, receptive aspects. But even this limited acknowledgment tends to take place only within structured environments or in such a way that the output can be carefully measured and achievements verified. And it’s still not unusual to find this element of any business is outsourced to ‘consultants,’ thus exporting the risk of dabbling in this vague territory beyond the walls of the company.
So, if strategic thinkers are right about the importance of intuition in successful business, do we believe them? And, if we do, why is there a reluctance to speak more openly about it and to integrate it more fully into our daily work environments? Is it simply because our modern society, with its reliance on left-brain strengths, has such a need to be able to quantify and rationally prove everything? Or is it because although it’s okay to explain intuition as a function of our right-brain, and to allow it freedom to operate within a controlled setting, when it comes down to a deeper exploration of the subject it brings us up against the fundamental question of how comfortable are we with its more numinous aspects?
If it is inspiration, where does it come from—ourselves, God, angels, the collective unconscious? And how do we know whether it’s a real flash of inspiration or the deluded ramblings of a stressed mind?
If a successful CEO stands up to speak at a corporate function about the importance of gut instinct in business, odds are it’ll be assumed that this skill is due to some sixth sense, without any further discussion on the subject. And chances are he’ll be respected for his honesty and even admired for his ability in harnessing what is often assumed to be a rare gift.
If someone uses a deck of tarot cards for guidance or some other divination tool, however, it’s a completely different situation. There’s an assumption made that any inspiration which flows is coming from a source beyond the user, which appears to make it even less reliable than an individual’s own gut instinct. And this seems to be where the discomfort lies—in linking the spiritual with the material in a business setting.
Within an environment where we are still barely comfortable acknowledging the role of intuition, how can we open up an even broader debate about whether there is a greater force in the universe that might prove useful to us in business if we can tap into it?
But I also feel it’s a little like the Theory of Relativity, which has been around since the beginning of the last century but hasn’t landed fully into everyday consciousness in a practical way yet. We all know at some level that it’s true but can’t find a way of integrating it meaningfully into daily life. When something is intangible and unquantifiable, we struggle with understanding and accepting it fully. If some trusted public figure says it is so, then we accept that it must be so—but without personal experience, it doesn’t become a tangible reality for us. Those of us with strong natural intuitive faculties often keep our mouths shut for fear of mockery or rejection, unless we’re sure of our company.
Yet these gifts can be developed by everyone—and the more who work with them and develop their own first-hand reality of them, the less need to be wary and secretive about them.
So, as a somewhat simplistic but nevertheless practical first step for those who haven’t used intuition in the workplace before, here is my ‘Beginner’s Guide to Finding Guidance in the Boardroom’—no tarot deck or external tools required. The steps can be adjusted to suit any business (or indeed life) situation. And practice increases sensitivity so don’t give up after the first attempt.
Where the guidance may be coming from is something I’ll leave you to rationalize in your own way.
1. Set a clear intention
e.g. to be open to any deeper realities that would be useful right now.
…deeply and slowly, filling the belly and emptying it completely. (Yes, simple as it sounds, this is the key—it grounds you in the body)
3. Tune the Body.
Your body is a receiver—you just may not be used to picking up signals this way. Imagine you are tuning it so that it can receive whatever non-verbal communication is bouncing around the room.
…by focusing it on your breathing and your body (if it’s busy with small talk and idle speculation it won’t notice the subtler signals)
5. Look around and just see.
Make eye contact—noticing whether your body reacts to anyone (take a moment to write down any immediate reactions)
6. Read the agenda
…and again note any immediate reactions (physical, emotional or mental)
7. Stay focused.
As the meeting progresses, stay with the breathing and the body’s responses as much as possible, continuing to note any impressions or reactions.
8. Not all insight needs to be acted on.
Be aware that some of what you may intuit is not relevant to the meeting – it may be personal to you or to another individual. The role of the mind is to screen these out (they can be reviewed later if necessary).
9. Speak from personal knowing.
Only make contributions that reflect your own truth and have a purpose to them (i.e. try to avoid muddying your intuitive faculty by saying things that you think you should say rather than what you feel needs to be said).
10. Take time to reflect on the experience afterwards.
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Ed: Sara Crolick