Intuition: Your Cheapest, Handiest Business Tool

by Kacy Paide on November 17, 2010

Drawing a blank

I’ll admit it: sometimes I walk into a client’s space and think “I have no idea how I’m going to do this.”

I can always instantly envision the end result. I know how I would do it if these were my things. However, they’re not my things. This is not my office. Her brain is not mine.

This is when I just listen quietly and trust that my instinct and experience will kick in, which they always do.

Not the typical type

A recent client of mine was a visual artist, so, not my typical paper-sorting project.

Some clients on the first session want a short list of the exact steps we’ll take to complete the project. Intuition, and the rainbow of her works and supplies on every surface told me that this was not a “list” lady.

She had won a two-hour consultation, so we didn’t have the luxury of time or a string of sessions on the calendar. I had to instantly design a plan that she would actually want to follow.

I knew a typical to-do list wasn’t going to cut it. As the creator of painstakingly intricate collages, she had supplies and materials spread across the entire floor.

As I scanned the room, I saw so much color and works of art in all stages of completion. As she showed me one of her quilt-like collages, I quieted my mind and the “list” came to me!

Image: Ana Mendes via Flickr, Creative Commons

On paper I mapped out her entire floor as if the room itself were a collage, giving her a “patchwork” to design on the floor. Instead of telling her to do this-then-that, I asked if she could group like with like all across the floor as if she were creating a work of art out of her things.

She was left with a to-do “list,” the likes of which even I had never seen. I was left with a revelation about how to use intuition in business.

Intuition is a common subject amongst artists and healers.

At first glance, an office organizing business such as mine isn’t described as “intuitive” work. As entrepreneurs who are called to deliver our unique talents to those who need us the most, our intuition is an indispensable business tool, regardless of our field.

Air travel and record labels also aren’t typical intuition-based industries. Richard Branson of the Virgin empire has made them such.

He regularly relies on his intuition to make seemingly brash, but ultimately successful business decisions. As one of the world’s most famous dyslexics, he has trouble reading. In his book “Losing My Virginity” he says,“Some of the best ideas come out of the blue, and you have to keep an open mind to see their virtue.”

Branson also tells how he relies on intuition where reading comprehension falls short. He’s been known to skim business plans as best he can, and then act only on the ones that intuitively feel right.

Rosemary Sneeringer, The Book Nurturer, consciously uses her intuition when coaching clients on book writing. She says,“The brain only goes so far, but our intuition often leads us to something grander that we cannot conceive of.”

You know what you know

I think many entrepreneurs would resonate with a statement Rosemary heard from a makeup artist: “I don’t know how I know what I know, I just know it.”

Some of us are highly educated and credentialed in our fields. We’ve all been faced with challenges that our experience alone cannot solve.

Think back to the top few “Damn, I’m good” moments in your career. Chances are, a stroke of intuition was at the heart of them.

I do believe it is enough to simply recognize that our intuition is perhaps our handiest, cheapest business tool. I also believe that taking a moment to empty one’s mind completely, to turn off the problem-solver in us, is to allow the best ideas to pour in. Sometimes it’s the only option we have.

In each of my organizing sessions, a client will hold up pieces of paper and ask, “What should I do with this one?” If the answer doesn’t come to me immediately, then it surely will as soon as I literally touch the piece of paper.

Perhaps I’m a kinesthetic learner. Perhaps I just need a minute to think. Or, perhaps I simply just need to lay hands on the piles.

More from Women Grow Business:

Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide of The Inspired Office loves to do what most people hate: sort paper. Your messy office is her puzzle to be solved.  She designs functional, beautiful paper flow systems and that people actually want to use.  Always up for a challenge, she focuses on creative types who claim to be out-of-sight-out-of-mind.  The entrepreneurial life is all she’s ever known, having started her business immediately after graduating college in 2001. A Washington, D.C. native, connect with Kacy at http://www.theinspiredoffice.com, Twitter, or Facebook.

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