Episteme

Mike's random thoughts and ramblings

Instinct and Intuition

The workshop this weekend with Linda and Chris was amazing - as always, the number of new things learned and laughs had exceeded even my lofty expectations.

One conversation that broke out among the group on Saturday was around the use of instinct and intuition. And it got me thinking... what's the difference? People often use the two words somewhat interchangably, but there are subtle differences. So, I went and looked them up, and found the dictionary definitions rather helpful:

Instinct - a natural or innate impulse, inclination, or tendency.

Intuition - direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension.

This lead me to think about it a little more functionally:

Instinct - decisions generated from aggregate previous experience and innate information.

Intuition - decisions generated from aggregated present information.

It's my experience that the geniuses in this world work most often from intuition, while many of us end up working from instinct. And that, while instinct is valuable (especially if you have successful past experience), the real key to a lifetime of success is to cultivate intuition. Because there are infinitely more potential sets of present information than any limited set of previous experience can aggregate to create.

What is especially interesting to me is the number of people who hold so tightly to their instincts when confronted with new and confusing situations - those are the moments in which instincts are particularly unsuited for.

So, where do you find yourself using your instincts when your intuitions would be better suited for the job?

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Michael Murray

Michael Murray