The Need for Intuition in Business

Last week was full of decisions and opportunities.

It started with a simple phone call. A business writer was creating a small mastermind and I was invited to be part of it. From all perspectives, it was an amazing opportunity I immediately said yes to. And yet, something was off inside of me. I was excited, but more than anything I felt misaligned, as if by saying yes to the mastermind, I was saying no to some unseen thing that I needed to make space for. (More so, two of the meetings were during times that I sensed my presence would be needed elsewhere.) I rarely change my mind, but in this case, I called up my contact and apologized. It wasn’t the right fit at this moment.

Had I deferred my decision and given myself a chance to pause to really check in with myself, I may have had that realization without the complication of communicating that my choice had to change.

As I’ve stepped more and more into my role as a business owner and leader (rather than a technician in the company), I’ve come to understand how important it is for me to have space, not only to logically evaluate plans and decisions, but to also give myself a chance to see how they feel in my body.

You know a “hell yes!” when you have on of those moments. It’s not entirely rational. There’s another part of you that takes over, so you’re not only thinking “hell yes!” but you’re feeling it as well.

That’s what I look for when I have to make big decisions: that full body “yes” that helps me differentiate between a good opportunity and the right one I absolutely need to be part of. That doesn’t mean that fear and uncertainty are immediately out the door and it’s nothing but confidence in the room; a “hell yes!” decision may still be a scary one and push you to that edge of growth.

The second decision I had to make last week was around an awesome PR program, working with a great team that would help pitch me for television, articles, and other media and press. Fantastic opportunity and definitely and edge for me, but once I had the time to get quiet and ask myself if this was the right move, the clear answer I got was “not yet”. It will be the choice I need to make at some point, but feeling into it, I saw I needed space and focus elsewhere, for other things to emerge, things that will inevitably help me when the time comes to say yes to that program.

But the need for intuition goes beyond big investments: it can be used in every part of the business, from making choices about which clients to work with to creating content calendars for marketing to building systems and processes that allow the business to work more efficiently. There’s a lot of logic that goes into these activities, but when I add my intuition in, there’s a greater sense of certainty that I’m making the right decision.

So when you have to make a choice today, I invite you to get still for a moment and see how it feels in your body. Is it a yes or a no? Does your deeper sense contradict the logical conclusion, or support it?

And I’d love to know from other entrepreneurs out there: how much do you employ your intuition when making decisions?Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

The Magic of Photographs

I don’t remember exactly how long my boyfriend and I had been dating when we went to the Grounds for Sculpture here in New Jersey. It was early on — maybe just four or five weeks into us knowing each other, before we dared use words like boyfriend and girlfriend to describe our relationship (that came a few months later). But I knew the relationship was something special that day, not only because we were strolling around looking at art together but because, at a few strategic times, he took photos of me.

These weren’t creepy stalker photos. He was documenting our time together, capturing little moments of this day to hold onto.

I personally have never been great with photos, despite owning a fancy digital camera. I pull it out when I’m traveling, mainly to take photos of sweeping landscapes and places I visit. Photographing people — and being in photographs — has never really been my thing.

I appreciate that my boyfriend is the way he is, because we have some great photos together from events we’ve been to and trips we’ve taken. I framed one recently, not too long after he moved in, and stuck it by the television.

Photos have taken on a new significance in my life. There aren’t many photos of me over the years. I wasn’t actively avoiding the camera at all times, but after my high school graduation, my parents just weren’t as fastidious about taking photos as they did when my brother and I were younger. Couple that with the rise of social media and people’s constant selfies and it’s easy to see how you could develop an aversion. I wanted to be there, live my life, and not worry about capturing the moment for some sort of social proof.

At the same time, I missed out on a lot of beautiful moments and opportunities without camera phone or digital camera in hand.

On my nightstand, I have a picture of me and my mom, taken when I was about 12 years old at a picnic hosted by the company my dad still works for. I’m making a funny face and holding a hamburger. My mom is smiling and looks beautiful. That’s the photo I look at every night to remember her.

I don’t have many photos of me and my mom from the past decade. There’s one somewhere in my brother’s collection, from his wedding. That was the last photo we ever took as a family, back in October 2017, two months after she was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery. She didn’t like those photos, and in all honesty, she didn’t look like her normal self. She was thin and sullen and had taken a beating from the disease she was dealing with.

How far back in time I need to go to find another photo of all of us together I’m not sure. Two years? Ten years?

I wish I had more. More of me and my mom. Me and my dad. Me and friends.

There’s a balance somewhere between capturing moments and obsessing over photos in this digital age.

What I can tell you is that I’ll be using my camera a bit more, maybe even asking a stranger or two to take my photo, but most importantly pulling the people I love into the frame with me.

Make Time to Dream

I’ve always struggled with New Years resolutions, though I participated in the process. I created resolutions around weight loss, meditation, scheduling, things I wanted to achieve in the course of the year. Some resolutions made it to my list simply because they were the type of resolutions we’re supposed to make, like eating healthier or getting to the gym more. Others were a bit more personal.

What I’ve come to realize after years of broken resolutions and watching what behaviors I have been able to shift to regular habits is that it all comes down to vision.

And I’ve struggled with vision. They tell you that you need to have a 2-year and 5-year plan for your business. You have to know where you’re going. Yet my business has changed and grown so quickly, I find myself shifting plans every 3-6 months, making it hard to spend time formulating such long-term plans when I’m learning so much that affect what I want and how we do things.

But in the past two weeks I keep coming back to this truth: if we don’t look up to see the mountain we must climb, to know there’s a path beyond that, and solely stay focused on each single step we take, we may never reach the summit and what’s beyond it.

When it comes to vision, you can refine. But you can’t refine if you never take the time to dream.

I realized this morning that I haven’t had time to dream in a very long time. I’ve been shifting and adjusting, but with no real vision in mind. I want things to be better, ideal. I want our clients to be happy, I want to deepen a wonderful relationship with my boyfriend, I want to be there for family and friends, I want to travel, I want to learn new things. But it’s been disjointed, like little pieces of a puzzle that might be part of the same picture but seemingly don’t fit together well.

I haven’t created the space to dream. I haven’t dedicated the time to imagine the bigger picture of my life and where I’m going.

So the first step I’m taking is finding a day to dedicate to dreaming and visioning.

And then I’m going to ask myself some hard questions:

Who do I want to be?

What do I need to do daily, weekly, monthly to live as that person?

How do I want to help people?

How do I want to be remembered?

What specifically needs to change in my life and my business?

What tasks do I need to keep doing, delegate, stop doing, or start doing?

Part of me is afraid to do the work, knowing there may be a rather wide gap that I need to cross. But what do I risk if I don’t allow myself this time? My sanity? My freedom? My very spirit?

Asking The Right Questions

Yesterday felt like an avalanche.

All started seemingly well — I pulled out my blue notebook where I record notes about team members’ time on different projects so I can make sure everyone is properly paid and got to work on payroll. And then I tumbled down the rabbit hole…

Payroll lead to the discovery that some team members weren’t tracking time properly, which lead to the discovery that some team members were neglecting key tasks for their positions. That means loss for my company overall in different ways.

There’s two things that happen in situations like these, because they’ve come up for me in business before and they’re bound to come up again.

First, I give myself some space to feel my emotions — the anger, the upset, the disappointment, the frustration, the loss, the confusion. My emotions tell me something is wrong, so I watch them, listen to them, ask them to teach me.

Second, I look at all sides of the situation. If balls were dropped by someone else, what needs to happen to ensure that doesn’t happen again? If something was unclear, how can I make it more clear? What has to change to make things better for the future?

(Third step usually involves chocolate because those emotional remnants linger!)

It’s not about blame, it’s not about someone being wrong and someone being right. It’s a flaw that needs to be fixed.

That doesn’t mean a warning shouldn’t be issued to a team member; that is necessary at times. But I’ve inevitably found that good people rarely fail on their own when it comes to business — there are situations and circumstances that lead them down the wrong path. Maybe it’s a missed message or a question that was never asked.

Yesterday’s events made me realize that I’ve been asking the wrong questions of my team members. Usually in a projects update meeting, we review the stages each project we’re working on is at. Instead, I need to ask not “Where are we?” but “Why are we there? What’s important for me to know?”

And even more importantly, it’s time to clearly define what a successful project looks like from all angles.

I think it will all start by asking better questions, digging deep to find “Why” rather than just “What”.

There’s a tool my first business coach Christine Kane gave to me and fellow masterminders during a retreat. It’s called the 5 Why’s.

You start with the problem. Take, for example, something like a project budget not being recorded properly.

Ask: “Why?” Wait for the response.

Then go deeper and ask “Why?” again.

And again, until your five Why’s deep. There, likely, is the true problem that needs to be solved.

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Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.