Have you ever had that thing happen where you make a decision and it suddenly gets reinforced by some completely unrelated signal? Just as you decide to cancel your beach day it starts to rain. (“Hey! It’s a sign!”) Right after you choose to go for that next promotion someone quits and leaves open a great position. (“Look! It’s a sign!”)
Well, those “signs” can actually be a powerful way to access your intuition and make quicker decisions, if you can just learn to give them a little thought. Your job is not to make these signs appear, but just to recognize them when they do. Just as you tune your radio through the static until you arrive at a clear signal, you are tuning your mind to the messages you’re receiving until you arrive at the answers you seek.
There are a few different ways of tuning into the message.
Drawing out the Meaning
One way of tuning into the message is to look for “signs” and draw out the meaning. “Drawing out the meaning” is a technique sometimes used by coaches to help people access their intuition. It means using the environment around you as if it were filled with secret messages to tell you what to do. For example:
You’re on Section Nine of the research report you’re writing. You listen to Track Nine of a CD to clear your head. Track Nine turns out to be very short. Does Section Nine also need to be short?
You’re going through an extremely difficult time. You’re anxious and stressed. You walk outside and a gust of wind blows over you. Could it be that this situation will blow over as well?
You’re finally ready to print the final draft of your letter when the printer jams and you can’t get it out. Could it be that for some reason this letter isn’t ready to go out either?
You may be thinking, come on. These are just little mind games. Tricks. Playing with words. And you’re right. That’s just what they are. But they are tricks and games that help you open your mind to new possibilities, new ways of seeing and understanding.
Notice everything around you. Observe the details, the sounds, even the smells. What’s happening? What do you notice? Then wonder, if this tiny slice of life had something to tell you, what would it be?
Seek Serendipity and Synchronicity
Another way to tune into the message is to seek Serendipity and Synchronicity, those twin tendencies for life to deliver enchanting coincidences just when we need them.
Serendipity is unexpected good fortune, or discovery by accident.
Synchronicity is a timely, meaningful coincidence.
Put them together and you have those mysterious moments in which you accidentally discover exactly the right thing at just the right time.
- Brant was puzzling over where to take his defunct laptop for a checkup when after taking a wrong turn he ran smack into a storefront computer doctor.
- Caroline discovered that her 10:00 meeting was cancelled just as she was thinking to herself, “If only I had an extra hour.”
- Ginny was still fretting over fresh news that her accountant was about to quit when a long lost friend – a CPA – called to ask if she knew of any job openings.
“It’s a sign!” you think. A wink from the universe. A little gift. If you pay attention to these moments when everything “clicks,” you might just uncover new possibilities.
To take advantage of these moments when the lights all seem to turn green, you need to pay attention. Whenever you’re tempted to say “it’s a sign!” follow it with the words, “Maybe that means I should…” and see what answer comes next. Then go do it. You might just find that the doors at that moment are open and you can slip right through.
Learn to Trust Your Instincts
Yet another way you can tune into the message is to learn to trust your instincts. Earlier we talked about the importance of making room for your intuition; you also need to be able to recognize the messages, listen, and act in keeping with whatever’s true for you.
What does your intuition feel like? Some say it feels like a zing, a snap, or a click. You might feel it in your stomach, your chest, or your heart. For one person it’s a calm, perfectly still knowing. For another it’s a heavily weighted thunk. Another describes a sudden peace; another a taptap of the mind.
When possibilities fall right into your lap, you may feel like some invisible force has granted your silent request. It’s often accompanied by a feeling of speechlessness, almost disbelief.
When you feel that, the search for solutions is over.
Recently, I met a leader who had an unusual set of skills.
Antonio was a linguist with an MBA.
“What does a linguist with an MBA do, exactly?” I asked him.
“Mostly backpack around Europe,” he smiled. But that was then. One day in his meager years as an unemployed post-doc wandering around Sweden, he came across a copy of the Harvard Business Review. In the back, he found an ad for a “naming company” that was looking for (can you guess?) a linguist with an MBA. A consulting company wanted someone clever with words to help assign memorable brand names to their clients’ products.
He scoured the fine print for an address. Manhattan. Antonio lived on Long Island, just across the bridge.
Antonio finished his European tour that month and headed back to the States. He had saved the ad and wondered if the job had been filled.
He called. Job still open.
He got dressed and headed for the address. Without so much as an appointment, Antonio walked in and asked to see a manager. A manager appeared. Antonio showed him the ad and introduced himself as a linguist with an MBA. As Antonio describes it, you could see the manager’s own instinct thumping him in the head.
Antonio was hired and has been there ever since.
The knowledge that something – an idea, a step to take, the way ahead – is right is very hard to put into words. You have to learn to feel it. Raise your awareness of what it feels like for you to hear opportunity knocking. The next time it does, you will be more likely to answer the door.
The strategies for “Tuning into the Message” –
- Drawing out the Meaning
- Seeking Serendipity and Synchronicity
- Learning to Trust Your Intuition –
– these are all ways of accessing information that seems to be around us all the time, but that somehow we manage to miss. To expand your awareness of what’s possible, sometimes you just have to notice.
- Look for “signs,” then ask yourself what they mean.
- Watch for Serendipity and Synchronicity, and follow where they lead.
- Stay alert to your intuition. Learn what it feels like, then practice following it.
The ideas in this article are drawn from The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership and the accompanying eBook called The Extension. The eBook is designed to give you simple, engaging personal leadership exercises and activities to help you be a better leader, and lead a better life. Get your copy today! Click for a Preview and to Order.