Have you ever met someone who just seemed to have a knack for something? Within minutes they could come up with an idea that would take you hours? Here’s a spoiler: they’re not magic. They have just practised a lot.
Photo by Daniel Davis
We rarely get to see the mountain of practising that goes into a creative work. In fact, we even overlook it in ourselves, leading to imposter syndrome, or idolising genius. But intuition doesn’t magically come from a fountain in your brain. It’s the culmination of practising and experience.
So if you really want to improve your intuition, stop trying to trick your brain into the perfect state for flashes of genius and start practising.
The better you are at something — whether it’s dancing, playing the violin, or Man in the Desert Selling [The Container Store’s sales philosophy] — the more reliable, brilliant, and touched by genius your intuition will be. I’ve been fly-fishing all my life. So if I’m teaching you to fly-fish, and I intuitively think there’s a trout under that rock, there probably is. If you’ve never fished before and you think there’s a trout under that rock, there probably isn’t.
That’s not to say you can’t prime your brain for inspiration, but the idea that intuition is an inherent trait, rather than a learned one, actually holds us back from getting better. So, if you find yourself frustrated that other people seem to pull off tasks with little effort, start by recognising their lead in experience and then practise.