Balance Your Intuition and Reason

Photo by delhugo

Do you listen to your intuition?  I’ve learned to trust my intuition more and to check it against facts.  Whenever I’m not confident of a solution, I ask myself, “What’s your gut say?”  Sometimes my mind says one thing, but my intuition says another.  That’s when I know I need to figure out what’s behind the disconnect.  

More often than not, my intuition has taken a fast path through the problem and knows what would work, even before I’ve worked through all the logic.  This is especially true when there’s a lot of variables and trade-offs.   I used to wonder how this worked until I learned how experts make decisions.  To bottom line it, it’s essentially pattern recognition combined with rapid mental simulation to test whether a solution is a match.  The more experiences I have under my belt, the more I can draw from.  

While my intuition has served me well, I wanted to know more.   In the book, Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques (2nd Edition) , Michael Michalko writes about combining your intuition with reason.

Combine Intuition with Reason
According to Michalko, you can improve the robustness of your answers and solutions, by combining them with intuition:

Jonas Salk, the scientist who discovered the polio vaccine, said in an interview: “I’m saying we should trust our intuition.  I believe that the principles of the universe are revealed to us through intuition.  And I think that if we combine our intuition with our reason, we can respond in an evolutionary sound way to our problems.  Effective creative conceptualization requires that one incorporate reason and logic as well as intuition and feeling.” 

I think it’s important to check your intuition against data and logic. When they don’t line up, there can be a good reason. For example, you may have been asking the wrong questions. A common example I run into is I intuitively know that something is off, but I can’t put my finger on it. I keep asking questions until I get better questions and distinctions, which end up explaining what I intuitively knew to be true. What happens is I then have an intuitive answer backed by understanding and context. This then gives me a new lens to look at the data, which more often than not, helps align the logic with the intuition.

My Related Posts