Jolt cola and powdered donuts were all we needed to get by during my undergrad years. Back then, those of us who went to school full-time while also holding down jobs (sometimes, more than one) loved to practice one-upmanship. “You think you’re tired? I was up until 2 a.m. studying for an exam after having to work late. I got – maybe – four hours of sleep.”
When we entered the workforce as graduates trying to climb our way up the corporate ladders, starting at minimum wage and the bottom rung – the landscape changed, but not the sentiment. We were proud workaholics who didn’t mind bragging about working a 60-hour week on a 40-hour-a-week salary. We were “team players” who were going to make something of our lives, even if we were overtaxed, overstressed, undervalued, underpaid and tired all the time…
The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
In today’s business climate, we have analytics for everything. If we can’t measure, weigh, track and chart it – if it’s not tangible – we tend to dismiss it. I’m not saying that analysis is not important. It is an essential component to great decision making. However, what happens the minute you’re forced into making a time-sensitive decision when limited data is available? Conversely, what happens when all the numbers point in one direction but that sinking feeling of dread in the center of your stomach suggests something else?
Sadly, modern thought doesn’t have much room for anything that can’t be analyzed and added up through logic. As a result, intuition holds little practical use in the traditional business realm. And yet, intuition remains as one of the most vital components in business planning. Whether you believe that intuition is the subconscious mind pulling in data that you’ve collected through a culmination of past experiences, or you believe in some form of divine guidance – the results are the same. Information is being accessed and brought to your awareness.
While there are many ways to access this information, I’d like to share one that I’ve had a great deal of success using. I refer to it as the three-step process for rapid-fire decision-making. Many use a similar process, but may refer to it as something else. Please read this process from start-to-finish before going through each of the steps.
Three-Step Process For Rapid-Fire Decision-Making
To begin, consider a business problem in which you need an answer. I would start with something small, and as you validate this process, then move on to larger concerns. Sit with this problem for a minute, and clearly articulate in your mind a brief overview of the situation, and what your goal is surrounding this issue. You may find it helpful to have a pen and paper here to take notes on your answers. When you’re ready, begin …
Step #1:Start with a “yes” or “no” question. You’ll notice in some of my other writings, I’ll expressly suggest that people pick open-ended questions and meditate on the answer; but for this process, we’re breaking it down into the simplest form. When I asked you to sit with the problem for a minute, this was you “setting the stage” surrounding your question. Keep it simple: ask a “yes” or “no” question.
For example, if you are considering taking a contract position with a new company, you may ask yourself (in your mind or aloud), “Should I accept the current contract with XYZ company?” Answer “yes” or “no” in less than three seconds. Don’t try to weigh the options – “yes” or “no.” If you see neither, than the question needs to be reframed. For example, you may ask, “Will I be happy working on this new contract?” In less than three seconds, answer “yes” or “no.”
Step #2: Check in with your body and your emotions. Does what you’re feeling support that initial answer? What do you notice – both physically and emotionally? For example, do you feel a lightness of being and happy, or do you suddenly feel tightness in your stomach and shoulders followed by a feeling of dread? Make a mental note of everything, even if something seems silly – it could be your body giving you a clue. For example, maybe that company that offered you the contract is a Fortune 500 that you’ve been eager to work with for years. Your immediate response is an unquestionable YES! Of course I want to work with them. Who wouldn’t? And yet, as soon as you answered, your face felt flushed and you developed a sudden headache. You now have a conflict between step number one and step number two. Consider why this may be. In this example, perhaps you feel as if you’re not up to the challenge and fear is holding your back. Or, maybe you sense that working with this company may not be as wonderful on the inside as it appears to the outside viewer. If your feelings are positive, consider this a “yes” response. If it feels negative, consider this a “no.” Therefore, you may have two answers that are “yes” (or “green lights”), two that are “no” (“red lights”), or one of each. Move on to step three.
Step #3: Analyze the situation. This is where you bring logic back into the equation. Consciously consider the pros and cons of this company. If time permits, do your research. Is there anyone who currently works with this company (or has in the past) that you can reach out to with questions about the work environment? Are there questions you need to ask the company itself before reaching a decision? What can you find out about them online? If time does not allow for this type of research, at the very least, you will need to logically consider your choice based on the information you currently have access to.
Going back to our example – maybe you realize that you’ve had this fear reaction with many new projects and you’ll be okay once you get started. Or, perhaps your fear is recognition that you need additional training, and once you receive it, then you will be equipped to handle the new assignment. Maybe you are fearless, and this job is in alignment with what you do every single day. In this case, why is there hesitation? Is it simply that you don’t have time to take on another assignment … or something else? Analyze the situation; is your answer a “yes” or a “no?”
Look at the Outcome. When you look at all three steps, if you have received three “yes” answers (“green lights”) or three “no” answers (“red lights”), your result is clear. In all other cases, you with have two of one or the other – meaning the answer weighs heavily as a “yes” or “no.” You may choose to go with this as your answer, or, as those pesky Magic 8 balls will tell you, “Ask again later.” Sometimes, timing IS a factor, and you must revisit the situation in a day or two or when more information comes to light.