But it isn’t easy to mould our personalities, and master our actions, according to how we wish. Apart from forces we may be oblivious to, other hindrances relate to our environment, and to our natures.
In the film The International a doomed double-agent laments: “I was once destined to become a man like yourself. True-hearted, determined, full of purpose. But character is easier kept than recovered.”
More specifically, how do we know when to grasp their accuracy, or recognise when they may represent a false flag?
This is not as hit-and-miss or near-impossible as it may sound.
Find a way to be still. An openness to finding the voice is the first step to being able to hear it. This is particularly important in times of stress or high emotion, as negative thoughts or feelings of despondency surface.
For some, this involves quietude and serenity, a form of letting go, mindfulness or even meditation. For others, it may require an intensity of concentration. The key is that in our crowded, cluttered modern world, we will hear ourselves better if we put distractions aside. Make time to think, time to be quiet.
Look for inspiration. Reading the wisdom of others can unlock neural pathways. If you tend to be wary of self-help books, rest assured there is rich guidance in wonderful literature such as Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, or Do Not Say We Have Nothing, a 2016 Booker Prize finalist by Madeleine Thien. Consider this extract from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho:
If you are a person of faith, you may find guidance in religious texts, or the power of prayer. (Incidentally, it makes sense that prayer is described as “powerful”, because its process and intent is often aligned to finding that inner voice.)
Exercise the ability. Once you’ve awoken to your inner voice, the ability to hear it can be likened to building a muscle. Like deliberate practice, the more it’s developed, the better it enables, and the easier it becomes available to us.
Externalise. Our intuition is a guide rope, and whilst we can flex the cord and tighten the strands, no guide can ever be without imperfection or room for improvement.
Let go of the demand for certainty. One of the mindset shifts required of this process, is to accept that very few issues can ever be reduced to a black and white paradigm.
Especially in our Covid-19 crisis, chief executives need to think differently about how to manage adversity. Those using emotion and intuition as well as practical rationalisation and data may achieve better results through the crisis and in the long-term.
This more humanly holistic management style drives collaboration and nurtures creativity within and beyond the enterprise, in a virtuous circle of high performance.