Intuition? Instinct? Reaction?

person in red sweater looking puzzled

Intuition? Instinct? Reaction?

Communication, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Personal Growth

Written by Tracey

March 9, 2023

One of the key traits found in pioneers is their ability to know the difference between their instincts and their reaction. In the real world, that might mean running with a business idea that seems so obvious you question (with alarm) why no one else has started it. That was me in 2003!! Or being the only one to red flag and speak out about a leader up to monkey business with the numbers. Or taking a break from all social media when “the experts” suggest this is the kiss of death for your business. Clients are often perplexed by this, “How do I determine the difference for myself?”

person in red sweater looking puzzled
Person with colourful words and one prominent red word - intuition

I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship. ~ Louisa May Alcott

Intuition, instinct and reaction are three different terms that often get confused. Intuition is a feeling or hunch about something without any apparent reason as to why it came about. It’s usually based on past experiences and knowledge, but sometimes it can be more of an emotional sense than a logical one. Instinct, on the other hand, is an inborn behaviour or action that animals do without thinking about it. It’s usually a response to danger or something wrong, and it’s a predetermined set of actions designed for survival. Finally, a reaction is a conscious response to an event, situation or stimulus that can be physical or emotional.

person in red sweater looking puzzled
Person with colourful words and one prominent red word - intuition

What’s tricky is staying conscious enough (self-awareness) to learn the difference in you between your intuition, instinct and reaction. Clients often ask me for the formula here as though there is one, and I always answer with, “what if you trusted your instincts now? What would you say?” So good and so cheeky! This reflective question requires sitting with (being with) the experience when it happens, allowing those lousy body sensations to pass through you, wash over you, breathing through them, relaxing what has tensed, unhitching your story wagon from the facts before acting or doing.

It doesn’t matter how much we prepare ourselves, whether we read every book on the planet, listen to podcast over podcast about overcoming fear, digesting every excellent Instagram quote about pioneers or dream chasers, when it comes to experiencing what everyone else describes when we’re personally in it, we want to make our experience wrong, different, fatal or the exception.

Clients will say, “Yea but they had money to fall back on.” “They didn’t care what people thought about them.” “They had at least one person who supported the idea.” “They were emotionally stronger than me.” “They were better organizers.” “I’m just not cut out for this.” “This was a bad idea.”  Remember that most people don’t advertise their terror filled moments, choosing only to air what looks like easy success. 

The latter may also be true, “they” may have developed more resilience and therefore be emotionally stronger than you in those moments but guess how they built resilience? By allowing themselves the freedom to practice, to launch, to get scared, make messes, and learn from them. Soon with enough practice, they develop the resilience you covet. In the absence of supporters or evidence that you’ll succeed, in the deafening silence that seems to surround uniqueness and difference, you’ll find you, your instincts, and a deep, soulful knowing that isn’t driven by your knowledge alone.

Courage loading up

This is the pioneer’s journey, and make no mistake, pioneering is not a game of perfection. Think about it, a pilot learns to fly a plane, including through turbulence and clear blue skies. The training includes learning to be with it all when it happens, not if it happens, but when it happens. So if there’s any planning to be done it’s to address how you will navigate your way through turbulence vs ensuring you never bump into any.  And when you’re riding the sweet edge of your unlimited potential and possibility, you will be exhilarated and awe-struck by all the frontiers of you that you haven’t met yet.

As you’ve discovered, pioneering isn’t just about imagination; it’s also about learning how to co exist with uncertainty. Which is something I love supporting clients to do.  By allowing ourselves the freedom to practice, we learn that we can choose how we will respond vs react.

Practice develops resilience over time which supports you to confidently overcome fear and embrace new challenges. The more you practice, the  more you can be with.  So take a deep breath, tap into that knowledge within you! The possibilities are endless.

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