Intuition is the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. Research suggests the brain compares past stored experiences and knowledge with current incoming sensory information and experiences to provide a message. It happens so quickly that it doesn’t register on a conscious level.

We often hear people say they had a “gut” feeling, a “hunch”, or “knowing” when they describe what they are sensing from their intuition. But, many of us ignore our gut-level impressions because we have been trained to value the information from our analytical minds over that of our intuitive minds.

Intuition can be a powerful tool for leaders to cultivate because it can help you make better decisions, solve problems and avoid mistakes.

Here are some ways to sharpen intuition:

1. Increase Your Awareness. We all have intuition. Begin to pay more attention to how your intuition provides you with information. This body intelligence may present itself as an inner voice, a gut feeling or another physical sensation. For example, note when you think about someone out of the “clear blue” or sense that something seems “off” when making a decision that seems logical.

2. Explore Your Intuitive Messages. When you are sensing something, instead of dismissing it, pause and investigate it. Further access your intuition by asking yourself questions like “What is my inner wisdom telling me here?” or “What do I need to be aware of that I am not addressing?” or “Why am I feeling that something is not right?” or “What is the best course of action to take in this situation?”

3. Develop Your Intuition Muscle. Practice listening to your intuitive messages and then act on them as an important addition to your analytical thinking. For example, tap into your inner wisdom when you need to make an important decision under time pressure without all the necessary facts, or when making a hiring decision of an impressive candidate and you get an unexplainable feeling that it won’t work out, or by not sending an email because you sense there could be repercussions.

As you develop and trust your intuition you will find it is a valuable resource to augment your analytical thinking in business as well as in your personal life.

Pam Solberg-Tapper, president of Coach for Success Inc., is a Duluth-based executive coach, professional speaker and seven continents marathoner. You can contact her at pam@coachforsuccess.com 218-729-0772 or www.coachforsuccess.com