075: Developing Your Intuition with Lynn Robinson

By October 21, 2016Podcasts

 

Intuition expert Lynn Robinson shows how to access the wisdom of your gut.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Scientific discoveries about neurons in your stomach and why they matter
  2. Ways to stop intuition-killers when brainstorming in a group
  3. Checks and balances so you’re not going astray with intuition

About Lynn
Lynn Robinson is one of America’s leading experts on the topic of intuition and has been sought out internationally for her advice on the topic. She’s the author of Put Your Intuition to Work. She’s a popular and widely recognized author and speaker who works with businesses and individuals as a trusted advisor, offering valuable insights into goals, decisions and strategies.
Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. She’s been featured in the Boston Globe, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune, and has been a guest on many national radio and television programs, including ABC and Fox News.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Lynn Robinson Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Lynn, thanks so much for appearing here on the How To Be Awesome At Your Job Podcast.

Lynn Robinson
Thanks for having me Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
I understand that you are in Cape Cod, is this true?

Lynn Robinson
I am I’m just a few miles away from a lovely beach which I’m going to after we speak.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s perfect and it’s so funny that as we’re talking about intuition here and it was at Cape Cod actually where I had my sort of Bain & Company strategy consulting toolkit boot camp.

Lynn Robinson
No kidding.

Pete Mockaitis
So it’s like we got both sides of the brain in action.

Lynn Robinson
Oh yes, that sounds a little left brained.

Pete Mockaitis
We also took a dip, if I recall, in the water in October that was chilly.

Lynn Robinson
Yes, no intuition needed there. You probably could figured it out.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly, so I would love to hear a little bit. Could you make the case then for the other side of your brain? Particularly in the business or professional setting, I think sometimes or almost all the time where we think the data, the facts, the dollars, the ROI need to rule the day when it comes to professional decision making and you say there’s more to it than that.

Lynn Robinson
Yeah and you know they are not mutually exclusive, absolutely. I think apart of the reason intuition is so valuable in business these days is that we’re so overwhelmed with data.
We have a lot of conflicting information or we don’t have enough information or we’re doing something so entirely new in the workplace or the marketplace that we have to have some new ways of accessing information.
I’m really a big believer of looking at the data that you have and a lot of times you really do have to trust your gut. The way I’d define it, it’s really just quick and ready insight. Although my favorite definition is from a fifteen year old girl who said “intuition is like when you know something but like where did it come from?”
But I think what you’re talking about with your Bain & Company boot camp is obviously we put a lot of value on the left brain thinking, logic, facts, big data but I think also more and more of us are trusting our instincts, trusting our gut or however we want to put it. That information tends to come to us in less tangible ways; it may come as an image, a symbolic picture, a feeling, a physical sensation like a gut feeling, it may come in as a dream or an aha moment. So it comes in a lot of different ways and I believe it’s a skill that the more you use it the better you get at it and the more that you can base some decisions in your life or in your business on that intuition.

Pete Mockaitis
Well that’s so fascinating and when you speak of these things it’s interesting because in your book you reference different people call it different things. I’m Catholic so I think about the Holy Spirit being that which highlights things and it does show up kind of in the most unexpected ways.
Like suddenly I see a picture of a wristband and what does that even mean and suddenly it means something. So I imagine you probably have some people that say “uh oh this feels a little woo-woo. This feels a little bit The Secret. I’ve got my guard up now.”

Lynn Robinson
Yes. My favorite terminology is ooey-wooey that’s my scientific definition, ooey-wooey. But yes. I think the intuition comes from two very different places and I think both are equally valid. Malcolm Gladwell talks a lot in his book Blink, he doesn’t actually use the word intuition but he certainly talks and that’s really what the whole book is about in essence. His theory and a lot of people’s theory is that intuition is subconscious knowledge. It’s perhaps something that we know that’s stored away, it’s something that we don’t necessarily have conscious access to but when we’re about to make a decision it’s like that information comes to the forefront and we’re able to make a decision based on that.
The other one and I think it’s equally as valid as you point out is it comes from God, from the universe; something that’s hardwired into us that gives us guidance. I mean I think many centuries ago maybe when man first came onto this planet perhaps intuition was there to help us find food or find water or to stay out of danger and stay away from those wild bears but now it’s certainly gotten much more sophisticated and we can use it in our relationships, we can use it business, we can use it for our health. Asking ourselves the question is like ‘what is my right next step?’ and I do think that intuition is kind of like our inner compass or our inner GPS or inner CEO for our business listeners here because it really does give us an indication of what direction to go in.
One of my very favorite ways to use it is simply to pay attention to when you’re making a decision what lights you up? What feels interesting? What are you curious about? What energizes you? I believe that’s usually your intuition pointing you in that direction. If it feels draining, boring, heavy, your gut hurts that’s usually your intuition saying move away from that. But again I think looking at logic and facts is not necessarily counterintuitive if you will to you using your intuition. I think that both ways are valid.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh yes and I would also like to talk with you, you mentioned sort of like a human being and the human experience. Now I understand and I hope you know more about this than I do, that we humans have neurons in our stomachs.

Lynn Robinson
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
Actually something to your gut has kind of like some thinking or intelligence capacity.
We discussed this a bit with Dr. Marcia Reynolds earlier, episode fourteen-ish. Can you talk to us about that a bit?

Lynn Robinson
In fact Marcia is one of the people that I interviewed for the Put Your Intuition to Work book, she’s really quite fascinating. But I’ve run across that, studies about that many times and what I tell people to do when they’re trying to make an intuitive decision is to tell themselves they’re making it. For example say you’re thinking about a new job so tell yourself “I’m going to leave my job and look for a new one” and maybe kind of feel it in your body. How does that feel when you make that decision? Now a certain amount of anxiety or nervousness is probably very normal but how does it feel in your gut? What is your gut saying to you? Does it tighten up? Does it feel tense? Do you feel stressed? Sometimes people get it more in their shoulders but the belly as you said a lot of scientists have researched it and said it’s the second brain in that it gives you information from your physical body about what’s a good decision or what’s not a good decision. You know what’s frustrating about it whether you think it resides in your gut or elsewhere is that it doesn’t tell you exactly the specifics.
I’ll give you an example, there was a guy that I interviewed for the Put Your Intuition to Work book and he had a decision to make. He had gotten two job offers and I’ll call them Company A and Company B and I said try this exercise: tell yourself “I’m taking the job with Company A” and just close your eyes and see how does that feel in your body. Instead of getting more of a gut feeling he kind of opened his eyes real quickly and I asked what happened and he said I saw a big X through it next to the name of the company. He was a real logical, rational sort so “what does that mean? Why would I get that X? Why shouldn’t I take that job?” So I just said try it with Company B so he did the same thing and he said I’m taking the job with Company B and he closed his eyes and he said “oh I feel really calm you know my gut says this might be a good thing and I just feel happy.” So when he opens his eyes he goes ‘well I know that Company A job is a much better job and he started arguing from the logical perspective and so we didn’t really decide it at the end of the session but I said please call me and let me know what you decide.
I actually didn’t hear from him for a few months until I got a voicemail message and he said “you’re not going to believe this I ended up taking the job with Company B for a number of reasons.” But I just found out that Company A went bankrupt and so that’s the frustrating thing that I find about intuition. It doesn’t say “Company A is going bankrupt please do not take that job.” It just gives you that belly feeling or a symbol or an aha moment so it’s kind of frustrating at times. If I were in charge of the universe it would give us a lot more information.

Pete Mockaitis
Well that is fascinating I guess if I’m thinking about sort of spirituality from a Christian context. There’s the Psalms about how the word of the Lord is a light unto our feet.
Like it’s a little lamp like back in the day it would a little oil lamp where you maybe see a step or two in front instead of the whole picture.

Lynn Robinson
Of course we all are admonished to hear that still quiet inner voice because that’s the other way that intuition speaks to us. I certainly wish it would turn up the volume occasionally but the still quiet inner voices is often how we get that information so I tell people when they’re in a work environment and they’ve got a decision to make it’s hard to get that intuitive message when you’re multitasking with emails and phone calls and trying to get the report done. So it doesn’t require that you spend an hour in meditation. It just may be taking a walk outside of the office, it may be sitting and just closing your eyes for a few moments. So you can really hear that either what your gut is saying, what the inner voice is saying, hear the aha moment. So there’s a lot of ways in a business context to get that information that you need.

Pete Mockaitis
So that’s fascinating and what’s interesting is I think that even if we kind of bracket or put aside any of the kind of mystical or supernatural or whoa kinds of matters I think it’s kind of indisputable that you do in fact get another perspective and set of information when you think about or tackle a problem. In that way it’s interesting when you just said “just how does your body feel about that?” it’s like I suddenly realized somebody is not going to like this. But that’s news and I was like now that’s something that can be addressed, It’s like it can move action forward.

Lynn Robinson
One of the questions that I like to ask intuition is what is my right next step? I think intuition is a really wonderful source of guidance because sometimes we don’t know the whole path we just know what’s my right next step, what’s interesting, what am I curious about, how could I take those steps? One of my favorite quotes is just simply to aim yourself in the direction and then respond to what shows up. I think that way you’re kind of given clues along the path like where do I need to go next and intuition is a great resource for that.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, so now tell us how do we kind of jump start accessing this additional knowledge, perspective, information. So indeed as your book is called – put my intuition to work, what are the steps?  What do I go do?

Lynn Robinson
Well we often think of intuition as coming to us unbidden and it does sometimes come that way but I like kind of priming the pump by asking questions and I like asking open ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Say in a business setting you could say “should I hire Susie, yes or no?” But if you asked your intuition ‘what do I need to know about Susie, what are Susie’s strengths and weaknesses?” And what I do is  I sit down with an old fashioned pad of paper and a pen and I somehow find that my right brain works better that way versus being on a computer. That may just be me but I just take a pad of paper and a pen and I just write the question down at the top of the page and I kind of brain storm. You know do I get an image, do I get an inner voice, do I get an aha moment? Sometimes the information doesn’t come in right away, I find that a lot of times intuitive information will come when you least expect it. Usually when you’re kind of occupied otherwise in something a little mindless like washing the dishes or driving home from work or in the shower, walking the dog, blow drying your hair. That’s usually when the intuitive ideas come in but I like asking intuition questions.
I gave a talk recently to a group of engineers and a guy came up afterwards so he said ‘you know engineers are known for their pocket protectors and they put their pens in there’ and I said yes and he said I keep an intuition card in mine. He said basically it’s a three by five card ‘and I write down a question for the day like today was how to product more, how can we produce more widgets for our factory this month’ or something like that and he said but throughout the day I’ll get answers to the question and he said it may come as an aha moment, it may come that I’m drawn to a conversation with someone or I click on an interview and there’s something that sparks my interest and it provides an answer. So he said there’s almost like a little guide in me that knows that I’ve asked that question and what’s to provide an answer so I thought that was really cool especially coming from an engineer.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes, that is interesting. So what else can be done? So that’s a great tactic there putting a question on a note card then ruminating on it and see what pops up as well jotting notes down as to what comes to you. What are some other approaches?

Lynn Robinson
Well the other thing that I tell people to do is to pay attention to what they’re saying to themselves because I think that inner talk that we have is so important and I’m sure you’ve probably had a friend who’s going through a tough time and you’ve maybe had a good answer or some good advice and yet the person was so filled with negativity. What I tell people to do is really watch what they’re saying to themselves because a lot of times I find with my clients is that people are saying things like “oh I’m not good enough” or “I just don’t know what to do” or “I’m so stuck” or “I don’t know the answer to this” or “there’s no way out.” So I tell people to say more general things like I’m going to figure this out and I do know what to do, the answers will come to me.
When I teach this to business owners I like to tell people be clear about the outcome you want because again if you liken intuition as an inner compass or an inner GPS, inner GPS in particular, you program it – here’s where I want to go and I think that intuition works much the same way. So often in business we focus on what we don’t want you know ‘I don’t want to fail’ but what do you want? You want to make money, you want your customers to be happy, you want to be happy at your job, you want to be awesome at your job so kind of focus on the what you want rather than the what you don’t want and then your intuition can start giving you clues about how best to get there. I just find that when I’m clear about what I want and sometimes it’s a little bit not so specific like I want to make x number of dollars or I want to win this account.

It may be more general you know I want to be happy at my job, I want to have more than enough money, I want to be able to give back and be of service in some way. I find when I’m clear about things like that that my intuition seems like it provides a lot of synchronicities and coincidences that what I’m focused on and where I want to go tends to be what shows up. The other thing that you can do kind of like the other thing we were talking about earlier is ask for an image. A picture is worth a thousand words is the cliché we’ve all heard and that’s how intuition will communicate. So if you said I’d like an image for how to make our podcast be successful you know and I just tell people simply close your eyes take a few deep breaths and ask for an image and often it comes through as a metaphor.
We all have our own symbols like if I got a fire to me that might mean a romantic evening for you that might mean danger so we all have our own way of interpreting those symbols kind of like dreams. That’s the reason why there’s a lot of different ways of interpreting it. My favorite technique is to ask for a dream so I write down if I have a question or an issue that I’ve got before I go to bed at night again on my piece of paper and I try to summarize it as a statement or a question I’d like information about you know – how to market my book and then when I wake up in the morning I don’t necessarily have a specific dream. Sometimes if I’ve got one I can’t figure it out but I’ll simply ask myself what did I learn last night about how to market my book. So before I become fully awake I’ll just jot down some answers that come to me because again sometimes you don’t remember the dream or you do and you can’t figure it out but you often will wake up with an answer so that’s another great way of accessing your intuition.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay and now those are some dos, you also had some don’ts in your book you had a nice little listing lineup of key reasons we make bad decisions.
What are some of those?

Lynn Robinson
Well I think part of it is we get scared and it’s probably one of the biggest reason we don’t trust our intuition is because it often leads us out of our comfort zone. Often it’s saying try something new you know leave your job or start a new one or you’ve got to fire that person, you’ve got to have a difficult conversation and your intuition is telling you we need to move in that direction but we get scared and we start talking ourselves out of the thing that we’re scared to do. One of my very favorite books is called Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers, a book that came out a decade or two ago but it’s still one of my favorites.
I think the fact is almost all of us feel scared before we do something new and I think we often don’t know that about ourselves. I know that when I started doing my intuitive advisor consulting about twenty five years ago I was so nervous, I was convinced that I wasn’t going to be successful at it and really made life tough for myself and I bet you were probably nervous before you started doing your podcast.
I think it’s just a norm of what happens to a lot of us. The other thing is just really again paying attention to what we are saying to ourselves. If you’re saying things to yourself like I can’t figure this thing out or I’ll never get ahead or whatever that often will really block the intuitive messages. Is there favorite one that you read of a don’t that comes to your mind or that happens in your own life on how not to trust your intuition?

Pete Mockaitis
I think that there’s also in terms of other people’s approval and perspective was a good one that kind of resonated. You had a nice lineup –“you’re too lazy, you’re too rushed, you haven’t considered the consequences, we’ve always done it that way.” Which one do you think resonates the most often or most strongly with folks?

Lynn Robinson
I would say probably in a business setting it’s we’ve always done it that way and I think that’s such an intuition killer because there’s always one person in the group that says ‘you know maybe we should try something new, have we thought about doing…’ and there’s usually one other person in the group going ‘that’s such a bad idea we’ve always done it this way’ and then there’s always the person it’s always inevitable that ‘oh that just won’t work’.
If you ever studied brainstorming one of the things which is very akin to intuition when you’re trying to get some ideas is to just brainstorm the ideas, put them out there with no judgment and that’s the kind of direction for the group. Let everybody put their creative ideas, set the intention of what you want ideas for and then throw those ideas out there. Whatever your intuition or inspiration or creativity is serving up and not to comment on them until there’s a point in the technique where you say all the ideas are in now let’s just go back and figure those things out. Which one do we want to act on?
But it’s that judgment about it ‘oh that will never work, how could that work?’. I find over and over again that while I can focus on the what I want I just find that I keep my mind open forgetting direction.
I make a living being an intuitive advisor, I get to travel all over the world, I’ve written eight books and it’s like I just feel like if I can make a living doing this anybody can make a living doing anything but I had to really watch that I didn’t toss out those ideas that were coming my way and say ‘oh I could never make a living at that or that’s not a good idea or how could I do that or no one’s ever done that before’ because those in fact are the intuition killers.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh I hear you and I’m a huge advocate in brainstorming to have the editing and selection and judging step be separate from the ideation generating it. It’s easy to say and harder for people to do, it requires enforcement on my part as facilitator sometimes. But I would like to say when the time is right and appropriate what are some key checks or balances or processes that we should use to ensure that we’re not going astray with intuition?

Lynn Robinson
That’s such a good question because sometimes people say is it intuition or intu-wishing? I thought that was kind of interesting. But what I tell people to do and it’s not practical on all decisions that one’s making is to try to take a step towards it. So for example if we use the example that I used earlier of something thinking it’s time to leave my job, I’m getting bored with this and I’m not being stimulated and it’s time to leave my job. Well of course that brings up fear and you’re like ‘oh maybe I shouldn’t do it’ and you talk yourself out of it but your intuition is kind of nudging you and keeps saying ‘hey you know think about this, time for something new.’

I tell people to take some steps towards it which doesn’t necessarily mean going and tell your boss the next morning I quit. It may be rewriting your resume, it may be talking to a career coach, it may be doing some informational interviews or taking some classes. So you’re taking action steps towards what you’re intuition is indicating and then usually what I find personally is if I am going in the right direction, if that is going to be a successful outcome I’ll find things working out for me. I’ll find that I’m getting some introductions or just you know find a great article or a great class that excites me. Things tend to work out when I’m going in the right direction. If for example I just keep hitting a lot of roadblocks then I’ll sit back and go maybe this isn’t the right path. I mean and that’s always a little dicey because nothing ever seems to go absolutely a hundred percent on all the time.
It’s funny I used to a long time ago have a job working at an adult education organization.
I used to be the logistics person for all the speakers that were coming and it was so funny I found that there were some programs that I just couldn’t seem to work on and I was beating myself up thinking that maybe I’m just a procrastinator and what’s wrong with me. It turned out that those ones that I just couldn’t work on I kept procrastinating and putting off, it turned out inevitably that those were the ones that got cancelled either the presenter or the speaker was sick or they got low enrolment and we going to have to cancel it. So it was almost like my intuition was serving up a message there that I wasn’t totally conscious of but it gave me that information nonetheless so it’s kind of interesting how intuition does give you that information.

Pete Mockaitis
Well it sure does come in handy as a time saver.

Lynn Robinson
Yes, for all you procrastinators out there you can use that.

Pete Mockaitis
Now I don’t have to spend all that time working on that thing. Well so tell us is there anything else you want to make sure that you put out there before we kind of shift gears and talk about some of your favorite things?

Lynn Robinson
Well on my website which is http://lynnrobinson.com/ I have a lot of eBooks like How to Listen to Your Inner CEO and Six Tips for Supercharging Your Intuition so there’s a lot of free resources and quizzes there. People can absolutely go there and find out a lot of information about trusting their intuition as well as the Put Your Intuition to Work book.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright, could you start us off by sharing a favorite quote? Something that you find inspiring.

Lynn Robinson
It’s one that I actually said a few moments ago, it’s aim yourself in a direction and then respond to what shows up because I find that’s such a great way of getting myself unstuck which I find is something that happens to me just like it happens to everybody else. What do I feel excited about? What do I feel enthusiastic about? I aim myself in that direction and somehow some next step will present itself so that’s one of my very favorite things to do and favorite quotes.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, so how about a favorite study or experiment or a piece of research?

Lynn Robinson
This is one which I actually found recently which is kind of amazed me that we make thirty five thousand decisions on average throughout the day. Now most of those are not earth shattering – should I stand up, should I sit down, you know what should I make for lunch? But still thirty five thousand decisions so I just figure intuition has got to be a key piece in some of those.

Pete Mockaitis
Wow that is several per minute.

Lynn Robinson
Yes I know it’s quite mindboggling.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite book?

Lynn Robinson
This is a real old one, I mentioned Feel the Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers that was a definite favorite book and the other one was The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy. I think it recently got republished but I believe it came out in the 50s or 60s but that was a powerful book for me. I read that years ago and I keep picking it and rereading it so that’s definitely a favorite.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite whether it’s a piece of hardware or software or gadget or something that you find handy?

Lynn Robinson
You know one of the things I use in my business is something called Full Slate (http://www.fullslate.com/) and so that’s something that I use like a calendar for people to make appointments with me and that’s been a great resource for my business.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright and how about a favorite habit, something that has really been instrumental for your personal effectiveness?

Lynn Robinson
The very favorite thing that I do is a brief  three step technique that I do every morning. One is I just try to get as clear as possible about what I want to accomplish that day. I do like The Power of Your Subconscious Mind – the book that I just mentioned. He really talks a lot about visualizing so I’ll imagine the successful completion of it, seeing myself having it be easy, me being happy, being effortless. The last thing that I do and this is the intuition part is I just ask myself what three things could I do today to move in this direction? And I pay attention to whatever shows up that feels interesting or I’m curious about or has some energy to it.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright and how about a favorite sort of piece from your books,  your speaking or your training event when you communicated that really seems to resonate in terms of kindle highlighted or retweeted or head nodding?

Lynn Robinson
Interestingly it’s really as simple as intuition is your inner compass because when we pay attention it leads us to success.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay and you mentioned some of the best places to find you already, anything you want to add to that?

Lynn Robinson
I’d say my website (http://lynnrobinson.com/), I’m on Facebook as Lynn A. Robinson and @IntuitiveLynn on Twitter so there’s lots of different ways to find me.

Pete Mockaitis
And did you have a favorite challenge or parting call to action for those seeking to be more awesome at their job?

Lynn Robinson
I would say as simply as to pay attention to your intuition so whenever you’re making one of those thirty five thousand decisions in the day is to just stop and say ‘what’s my intuition say about this?’

Pete Mockaitis
Okay well thank you so much for this. It’s been a real treat and I wish you tons of luck and success and I much appreciate it.

Lynn Robinson
Thank you.

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