“It is always with excitement that I wake
up in the morning wondering what my INTUITION will toss up to me, like gifts
from the sea. I work with it and rely on it. It’s my partner.” – Jonas Salk


Intuition is an elusive phenomenon. You know it exists but it’s difficult
to describe or explain. You experience insight, recognition, or understanding;
you know what to do or not do; you can predict outcomes and avoid dangers. Salk
also said, “Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” But how
do you know? Where did the knowledge come from? Why do you now know what you
didn’t know just moments ago? Albert Einstein described the phenomenon like
this, “The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There
comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the
solution comes to you and you don’t know how or why.”


That is the “Now I see,” dimension of intuition but
there is more. The new insight or understanding does not appear to derive from
careful analysis, thoughtful contemplation, or logical deduction. Those
processes are important and thoroughly embraced but intuition is of a different
order of things. Alexis Carrel suggested, “All great men are gifted with
INTUITION. They know without reasoning or analysis, what they need to know.” Be
that as it may, you know, suddenly it seems, what you didn’t know and you
aren’t sure how or why. You just know.


It’s tempting to attribute the product of intuition to latent
psychic ability, to an untapped sixth sense, or to offer other metaphysical
etiologies. Doing so makes intuition at least mysterious and perhaps close to
magical. When moved into that arena, intuition becomes an ability or
“power” that defies analysis. The goal is more to enhance or increase
than to understand.


Alternatively, intuition may be understood as merely a
sub-process within the broader context of thinking and understanding that leads
to awareness and insight. Its distinction is neither mysterious nor magical.
Rather, it’s an absence of cognizance, existing outside of the range or scope
of what is known or perceived. You know but are not in touch with the process
that resulted in knowing. As Helen Palmer said, “Intuition makes a great range
of information available to us.” It’s just there; and you aren’t sure how or why.


From this perspective, the activities and processes that lead to
intuitive insight and understanding are the same as those that lead to any
other knowledge and comprehension. The difference is whether you are aware of
those activities and processes as they happen or can only infer their presence
retrospectively. If you are aware of them in real time, you are thinking,
judging, analyzing, and forming ideas and conclusions. If you are only aware of
the outcome, the insight, the “sudden” knowledge, you are using your
intuition.


Just as some people have more capacity for conscious,
intentional thought and analysis, some people have more intuitive capacity.
They process more information and analyze more complexly at a level below
awareness. The point is that intuitive capacity varies from person to person
and for each person under different circumstances. That not withstanding,
intuition is only a dimension of one’s cognitive capacity. Being highly
intuitive is, of course, desirable just as having a high capacity for logical
analysis or a high capacity for inductive reasoning are valued. Functioning at
a high level within any dimension is well worth pursuing. The point to keep in
mind is that one’s composite capacity determines success and achievement and not
any specific sub-component.


This is the point. Everyone has some intuitive capacity and
makes decisions and choices based on intuitive insight and understanding.
Further, for most people, intuitive capacity is far more developed and
potentially useful than they know. To the extent to which they are able to
manage and exploit that intuitive capacity, they will be more effective, will
make better decisions, will experience more accurate insight, will make the
right choices more often, and will be more successful.


Intuition is not a new area of study, is not mysterious or
magical, is not a secret science, and is not restricted to exceptional people
or the intellectual elite. Rather, it’s present, to some extent, within
everyone. The challenge is in accessing and maximizing your intuitive capacity.
How do you do that? If you give it a chance, your intuition will show you the
way. In the meantime, you can consider Joyce Brothers’ suggestion, “Trust your
hunches.”