Let Your Intuition Complement the Rational Mind

SWE member Carmen Lee urges fellow women engineers to embrace their inner voice and intuition—a powerful tool that can help us make the right decisions under special circumstances and in day-to-day life.
woman with intuition, deep in thought, deep thinking

I want to start with a short story about how intuition saved me at work.

One of the managers in my first job was a rising star in an engineering firm. He was charismatic and had great relations with everyone. Many expected him to become a vice president before he turned 40.

I remember sensing that something wasn’t quite right with this manager. I just knew that I had to be cautious around any information or direction he gave me. Being the most junior member in the firm, I was confused by how I viewed him so differently compared to seasoned coworkers and managers in the firm.

It was about 7 years after I moved to another organization when I heard the engineering firm was suing this manager for stealing intellectual property for his personal business.

Hearing the news cleared the doubt I had carried with me for years. I was sad that it took the firm so many years to see the manager’s true colors. I now realize it was my intuition that gave me a very important signal.

Have you ever had an inner knowing that may contradict evidence or other’s viewpoint? Did you act according to your inner knowing or did you dismiss it because the mind said it didn’t make sense?

Like many people, I rely on my mental capacity to do my work. There were many years that my primary work was about numbers and data analysis. I was so much in my head that I gradually lost touch with my intuition.

First, my mind became busier, then the noisy mental chatter wouldn’t stop. I also started ignoring cues from my body, undermining physical symptoms that later developed into chronic health issues.

It has taken me years to find my way back to tuning into my body for cues, which has helped me reconnect with my intuition. The more I practice feeling into my body, the more accurate my intuition becomes.

One of the greatest gifts of intuition is sensing the trajectory of a person or situation despite the evidence (like the manager). My inner knowing helps me to avoid and neutralize landmines before others were able to identify them. Intuition also allows me to discern the level of truth in a person’s words.

Can you imagine the amount of time and energy saved from cultivating this inner knowing?

When I analyze data, intuition helps me extract the golden nuggets in the data faster without being overwhelmed by the volume of information. Learning to discern when to rely more on data, when to rely on intuition, and when to use both helps me work smarter instead of harder.

“Learning to discern when to rely more on data, when to rely on intuition, and when to use both helps [one] work smarter instead of harder. “

Intuition also comes in other forms. A client of mine listened to her “little voice” and changed a patient’s drug dosage prescribed by a colleague; that “little” adjustment ended up saving the patient’s life!

While medical records and standard protocols are helpful, there are many incidents that she relies on her “little voice” to decide the best way to treat her patients.

Clearing mental chatter and psychological baggages are keys to developing one’s intuition. Mental chatter contributes to skewed perception of situations. Psychological baggages cause us to put up invisible walls as defensive mechanisms. A quieter mind and an open heart are fertile grounds for strengthening intuition.

If you find yourself running into brick walls even though you have been working hard and doing the best you can, reserve a few minutes every day to quiet the mind. Setting aside your mobile devices and taking a short walk in nature helps. Taking deep belly breaths for a minute will reset your system for greater composure.

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Author(s) Information

  • Let Your Intuition Complement the Rational Mind intuition

    Carmen Lee

    Carmen Lee is a SWE Life Member from the Sacramento Valley Section in California. Her first career of 20+ years was diverse, ranging from program management, strategic planning, leadership development, and workplace culture improvement. She now dedicates her second career in empowering change leaders to rise above their circumstances and experience peace, joy and freedom in being their Authentic Selves. You are welcome to share your reflections or ask questions by emailing Carmen at support@carmenklee.com. For more information about Carmen, visit https://carmenklee.com/.

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