by Alexandra Mysoor: Like many high-performers, I’m looking for that extra edge to help me get ahead in life and work…
I believe that the best edge is being authentically yourself and playing up your unique strengths. There is nothing more “you” than listening to your gut. And the science behind intuition or gut-feeling, suggests that this just might be the superpower we should be tapping into to give us the leg-up at work.
So what exactly is intuition? It is the ability to know something without analytic reasoning, bridging the gap between the conscious and non-conscious parts of our mind. Imagine being able to harness and further develop our sixth senses or what the US Office of Naval Research (ONR) calls “spidey-sense.” ONR is currently developing methods to measure the workings of intuition on the battlefield, hoping to give our soldiers the added edge in a life or death situation, as well as creating virtual simulations to help train and develop soldier’s intuitions in high pressure combat situations.
While your work situation may not be life or death, it can certainly be high-pressure. What if you could sense a problem exists even when the spreadsheet says otherwise, figure out the most opportune time to secure a raise, forecast a trend at work before anyone else or sense a problem with a pending deal? Call it women’s intuition but I have a sneaking feeling you already do this at some level.
Director of Global Technical Support at Evernote, Heather Wilde says using her intuition helped the company’s customer satisfaction rate. “I actually have relied on my intuition a lot to give me that extra emotional intelligence that you need to understand the context of a situation,” she says. “When handling customer interactions, you need to be able to look beyond the surface information and find the root cause of any issue they may have – and that is very difficult.”
Dr. Judith Orloff MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and author of Guide To Intuitive Health and The Empath’s Survival Guide, says, “In my private practice, I work with women executives who come to me to develop their intuition. They see it as a ‘superpower’ to use in all decisions at work as well as a guide for how to be good leaders and organizers.”
According to Dr. Orloff, scientists believe intuition operates through the entire right side of our brain, the brain’s hippocampus and through our gut (digestive system has neurons as well). And this is where it gets interesting for us ladies. Women’s corpus collosum, the connective white matter that connects our left and right brain hemispheres together, is thicker than men’s. This more substantial brain super highway gives us women better and faster abilities to access each hemisphere, further integrating our emotion and gut feelings with the more logical left hemisphere into our decision making process. Basically women’s brains have superpowers and are actually optimized for rapid intuitive decision making. “Women are also psychologically more in touch with their emotions (perhaps because they’ve been given more cultural permission to be this way) and are more likely to integrate hunches, emotional ‘hits’ about people and logic. Because men have a thinner corpus collosum they are more compartmentalized in their thinking and less about to move back and forth from intuition to logic.”