INSIDE OUT LEADERSHIP AND LIVING
Ten Keys to Fine Tune Your Gut Instincts
by Elese Coit
ELESE COIT, CEO, MANAGEMENT CONSULTING BUSINESS. NET
Ten keys to ﬁne tune your gut instincts ELESE COIT
© Elese Coit 2012
All rights reserved
Inside Out Leadership and Living
Forward by the Author
ize that I had lost the single most essential tool I’d ever been given. Common sense. To use Inner Directedness is nothing more than simply using your personal reference points to determine what is good for you and what is not. You may already be expert at this. Certainly we all know how to do this but, like me, you may have let yourself get trained away from using it more often. This is a particularly important area of development for leaders. Outstanding leaders are inner-aligned, finely attuned to internal direction. This sends a signal to others who sense their aliveness, trustworthiness and ultimately their followability. Inner Directedness is a key leadership component.
In the course of training and managing people, I’ve been asked many times: “How do I know when I have the right answer?” It truly has surprised me to notice just how many people do not have an inner sense of what is right for them. I thought it was just me. I have to admit that I spent much of my life struggling with life decisions, consulting logic and other people’s opinions. I ended up confused, and frankly, found it very difficult to be able to tell when my own gut feel was leading me in the right direction. I developed a mistrust in myself. I lost faith in my own ability to guide my life, and it took me many years to real-
There’s no downside to using our own good sense. What we decide to purchase, to do or not do for a living has an impact all around us. The more out of alignment we are the more social, familial, political and commercial difficulties result. The more inner directed we are, the better our world. This book outlines ten qualities of inner direction that I have noticed are always present when I am truly listening. It is how I know I am on course with myself. I’ve shared these with many people, and they have also learned to use the directional system that is built into them. You need nothing new to apply it today to your own life. It’s in your human firmware. This ebook will offer you ten very simple ways to recognize and cultivate this in yourself.
Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there and be guided by the truth as one sees it.
Why care about Inner Direction?
Great leaders, innovators and peacemakers have one striking quality in common: they are inner directed. They hear and march to a unique drum that beats inside. Gandhi’s quiet inner knowing freed the Indian continent. Many people struggle to hear their own drum. Understandably. There is so much conflicting information and so many options to pick from. The menu is getting bigger all the time. We try our best to cope by multi-tasking, speeding up and taking on more, all the while ignoring the counter indications. We end up eating too much, sleeping too little and forgetting to move around enough. This would change if we heard our sensible selves more clearly. We have been highly trained at over-riding our inner good sense. In fact it is not uncommon to be literally unable to “hear” inner direction and as a result to end up stuck in indecision or facing avoidable situations. Great leaders reference their inner senses often and powerfully in order to direct others with clarity. You can use it as your best personal advisor. The Inner Directed “voice” is the part of you that tells you when you are on course or off course. It is less of voice than a sense or a feeling. As such, it can be confusing to many people what it is, how to “hear” it and how to know if it’s steering you right. This book is intended to help you make a finer inner distinction between good sense and all the other stuff.
I NNER D IRECTION : T HE WHO , WHAT & WHY .... 1. Why care about Inner Direction? 2. What is it? 3. Actively Recognizing it 4. To Each Their Own
What is being Inner Directed?
One of humanity’s biggest problems is that people have lost familiarity with how good it feels to be Inner Directed. To lose this inner faculty is to lose our firm grounding and to be at risk of losing ourselves and being relegated to acting as people pleasers and yes-men. Without the immediate and reliable ability to recognize our own right direction we settle for other people’s direction and end up as shadows of ourselves. One difficulty in learning to hear inner direction is that there seem to be many conflicting signals to choose from. This is because few realize the role that thinking plays in human emotional shifts. We look outwards instead of inward to explain this, so we get confused about what our feelings are telling us. Being unable to discern clearly means we are truncated as human beings. We fail to experience an authentic and truly selffulfilled life. One of the most common things people say is that they don’t feel like themselves. To not be able to rely on your inner sense of direction does indeed feel like losing yourself. Leaders rely on natural good sense and gut feel all the time. They recognize when to follow what they hear and when not to. That inner directedness was never learned in a training room. Inner discernment builds a platform of self-trust that helps foster other natural talents.
Almost everyone would love to consistently and reliably know what’s right for them. Do a quick check on how familiar you are with using your inner hearing. Think of a decision you need to make, but haven’t yet, and ask yourself where you have been looking for your answer: • Your bank account • People whose opinions matter to you • Predictions of the future / Future fears • Market analysis None of the above are wrong, but all could and often do conflict. How does one decide? Decision-making tools are everywhere, and yet, decision paralysis is very common. To look inside for clear direction can be like flexing an atrophied muscle. It is difficult at first, then it gets easier. No one can predict the future, and we can never know every possible outcome. If you are leading a new team (or raising a child, hiring a new employee or making an investment, etc.), even weighing all available facts you can find might not yield a perfect way forward. Well-tuned inner direction is a very useful compass. Just knowing you have inner direction frees the mind. This does not mean that you will never make another mistake again, but it does mean there is information coming from somewhere other than the list of worst-case scenarios.
Actively Recognizing Inner Direction
To follow Inner Direction you must know it. So take a moment to reflect for yourself on... How does inner direction feel to you? How do you know it’s arrived? Where do you check for it? For example, say you are at a restaurant: where do you look within yourself to know what you want for lunch? Ordering off a menu is a good example of how you use Inner Direction naturally. Everyone has some way of being able to tell what they are really hungry for (without asking everyone at the table). This natural knowing is also called gut feeling. Can you think of a time when you ignored a gut feeling? What happened? Consider too how available your gut feel is when you most need it. Do you use it? Can you access it easily? The reason why actively recognizing and using inner direction helps us is that the more you know what it feels like the more you’ll find it is right there when you need it. Getting to know it means paying attention in ways you may not have before. And don’t assume you need a “quiet mind” for this. Inner Direction can find you at any time. As you become friends you will recognize its arrival earlier and more often.
To Each Their Own Inner Direction
Humans have a shared set of human capacities, but we are all individual thinkers. Although we all have the ability to hear our inner directedness, what we each “hear” is totally different and unique. What is best for you is not best for another. Inner Direction is completely specific to the person listening, relevant to the moment at hand and on constant refresh. New direction is there in you to meet new situations as they arise. This book is not going to suggest any optimal conditions for hearing best, nor is it going to install something in you that you don’t already have. You already possess this ability; it’s a matter of simply getting familiar with it. As many entrepreneurs, leaders and creatives can tell you, the advantages of recognizing and using your inner guidance are immense. With everything else being equal, gut feel has often guided successful people to inexplicably choose the better business partner, get skeptical about contract terms just in time, or to pull out of a deal because it just didn’t feel right. Using personal Inner Directedness does not mean you will ignore reality, hard facts and serious options, but it will let you know what’s happening within you as you and make decisions, take on challenges and lead others. Inner attunement is your ally for business and for life.
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The Ten Keys
These Ten Keys to recognizing and using your inner directedness will help you gain greater awareness of an inbuilt GPS system that you already possess. To be Inner Directed is to use a natural human self-guidance system. People refer to this system by many different names: instinct, wisdom, inner wisdom, inner guidance, the inner voice, common sense, intuition and gut feel are only a few. Recognizing it is more important than what you call it. The keys here describe what it feels like to be well tuned in to yourself. They are not a prescription for what it must be like. They are not exhaustive. They say nothing at all about the specific content of anyone’s own inner direction. When human beings are listening and tuning in to inner direction it feels natural and good so, by way of contrast, each key comes with a counter-indicator called a “warning sign.” This is the sign of moving away from Inner Directedness rather than towards it.
I NNER D IRECTEDNESS IS RECOGNIZED BY : 1. Rightness 2. Understanding 3. Acceptance 4. Release 5. Alignment 6. Solidity 7. Privacy 8. Constancy 9. Silence 10. Knowingness
Here’s to your discovery!
Inner direction can be recognized by a feeling of “Rightness.” Rightness is not self-justification. It is not necessarily rational, and yet it is not arrogant. Rightness is simplicity. Like an exhale. Rightness is a knowing that has firmness and lightness in it. Look for rightness in the same place you look when you decide what you want to order off a menu. It is the feeling behind, “Oh, I’m having THAT for sure.” Rightness is plain. When it arrives you wonder how the heck you missed it. Warning sign: Arrogance.
photo: Jon Ovington
Inner Directedness always walks alongside understanding for others. Understanding contains an awareness that others may not see things the same way as you do or agree with you. Humble and compassionate, it respects itself. It often says “It is this way for me and I understand why you might not see it this way” and really means it. Inner direction never wants to dictate or rule over others. It possesses a deep sensitivity to the fact that everyone else also has their own personal sense of inner direction. Warning Sign: Intolerance. People Pleasing.
photo: L.N. Batides
Inner Directedness is accompanied by acceptance. This is neither resignation (helplessness) or passivity (powerlessness). The presence of acceptance is evident when tightlyheld positions and violent opinions are surrendered without a sense of loss. Very often a situation will not have changed, but when acceptance arrives things look different. Obstacles and pathways get clear. You see what is there without rejection or repulsion. As scales fall, you see old landscapes with new eyes. Warning Sign: Frustration. Impatience.
Photo: summerly noon
Release is the absence of attachment. Guided from a deeper feeling, there is no sense of intellectual property. New ideas are flowing. If there is a job to do it’s to be the flow without thinking about it too much. There is no undue possessiveness about any particular outcome and the mind feels opened, free and creative. Often solutions come to mind that seem obvious, but that you had not noticed before. You will discern being off track if a sense of stickiness or pinching off arrives. Warning Sign: Investment. Affront. Efforting.
Photo: Gary J. Wood
There is harmony between body and mind.
There is no
sense of pushing against. If there is movement it is more like a pendulum swing that is simply coming closer and closer to center balance. As your ear for mis-alignment gets better your sensitivity may heighten. Disharmony may seem worse. What’s happening is it’s less tolerable. A musician carefully tunes each string before playing; you are the tuner and the instrument. Warning Sign: Indecisiveness. Body discomforts. Fidgeting.
Photo: Kevin Lawver
Solidity is something felt. Just as electricity must be grounded, so for you. When yoga and martial arts positions have solidity there is no wobble, imbalance or strain. Solidity tethers us to center. In solidity there is simply a resting place. In solidity we are simultaneously flexible and oddly unmovable -- no matter what comes at us. This occurs naturally, without taking up arms or defensive postures. It is as if you grow roots from your feet to the earth. A feeling of authenticity. Warning sign: Defensiveness. Over-explaining.
Inner Direction puts its attention on you. It is intimate and reveals you to yourself. It never says what other people should do nor how to act upon others to change them. As a result there can be a hesitation to divulge, explain or share. There may be a sense of aloneness or being set apart. Inner Direction arrives with the power to be carried into action by you in the moment. It is a living thing and may need your protection until it is fully formed. Warning Sign: Seeking the opinions of others. Comparing.
Constancy has a core of un-waver-ability. It is totally uninterested in “Pros and Cons” arguments. Constancy makes all the voices in favor and all the voices against fade away in a distance. It is bigger than them and it is bigger than you. It is not stubbornness, although it is likely to be very hard to move you off your track. It can be hard to say what’s behind such certainty; it just is. Constancy holds change in the same way that closely mowed grass does, by growing back. Warning Sign: Evidence Gathering. Pig-headed-ness.
Noticeable absence of white noise. Sometimes a feeling of being in slow motion. There may be noise all around you, and there is a noticeable quietness within. The senses are less frenetic, and although the shrieking of the world may continue, you are experiencing the calm internal weather. You are the eye of the storm. Have others sped up or have you ratcheted down? You may wonder what the fuss is all about out there. Warning Sign: Overwhelm. Multi-tasking.
Knowingness is not know-it-all-ness. It does not fear the disappointments of others and plans no preemptive attack. It often arrives before the evidence does. Suddenly things look obvious, and going forward looks easy. It is not uncommon to struggle to explain why this is so. There can be a feeling of relief, as if only after cleaning the windows did you realize how dirty they were. Knowingness is kind. It also simply refuses to go away. In fact, it’s a bit of a nag. Warning Sign: “My Way or The Highway.” Chronic Illness.
Super Simple Summary
Inner Direction is simply...
A sense of what is best for you. Personal. You can’t get inner direction for someone else. Easy. It steers you with less effort once you get to know it.
I NNER D IRECTION IS RECOGNIZED BY : 1. Rightness 2. Understanding 3. Acceptance 4. Release 5. Alignment 6. Solidity 7. Privacy 8. Constancy 9. Silence 10. Knowingness
Present. You recognize you had it all along. A way of listening to yourself without the external noise.
You may also notice Following your inner direction sets you apart. However, it will ultimately put you back on solid ground, feeling much more like the person you know you truly are. It will give you back your own mind.
In the next section: some common questions people ask.
Why We don’t listen
You may have noticed that when we people ask for advice, they really don’t want it. We listen as if they do. Have you ever offered someone advice, and not only did they refuse it, but they did precisely what they knew to do all along? One reason we might not follow what we already know is because we fear others will disapprove of us. But there are no “others.” There don’t have to be since the voices of disapproval are alive in our own minds just like free radicals scavenging our good ideas and sabotaging our life purpose. Of course we think about the impact of our decisions on other people. But perhaps too much. Have you ever noticed how following your best path often ends up being strangely the right thing for everyone involved over the haul? Will chaos break out if we all start following our own north stars? Maybe. Maybe it will be the quantum physics definition of “chaos:” ultimate order in a system of cooperative individual elements each made of pure potential and expressed perfectly in relation to one another. Or something close to that. This kind of listening is integral and natural to every human being. It is part of our humanness. We came wired up this way. If we realized it actually works well for us individually and collectively, perhaps we’d listen more often.
SOME THINGS THAT COME UP
1. Why We Don’t Listen to Inner Direction 2. Some Misunderstandings 3. Two Assumptions About Thoughts 4. The Most Common Question 5. The Unmistakable Moment of Yes
To listen to your own Inner Direction does not mean you will stop caring about people and become interested only in yourself. Instead you become lucid. And since clarity contains a certain amount of enlightened self-interest, you generally aren’t that keen on railroading others to get your way. We are in deepest trouble when we cannot tell what is right for us as individuals. This is why people stay in bad relationships and develop addictions. Basic disconnection with our inner world leads to outer conflicted behaviors. What good is it if we recognize what is best for us only after the fact? It may seem that we have no choice about how to act in many situations. But we are choosing what and whom we are listening to before we act. Nothing stops us from consulting friends, advisors, parents and experts. To do so with no selfreferencing leaves us feeling lost and increasingly dependent. In our internal world we experience thoughts of fear and doubt, insecurity and rejection as well as internal urges of empathy and caring. We hear it all, what we fail to do is discern. “Internal voices” are just thoughts and when thoughts change, human moods go up and down. We operate in changing feeling states, so it helps to understand the human thinking/ feeling process as part of learning to listen to ourselves.
Two Assumptions About Thoughts
Two things are true about human thinking: 1. No matter what happens to us, we always feel whatever we think. No matter how badly you feel, you cannot lose your ability to have new thought.
Human beings are thinking beings. No two people have the same thoughts, so it’s common for two people to share an experience but not have the same feeling about it. Feelings change according to a person’s quality of thinking. For this reason alone, it is important to pay attention to feelings. Feelings are an indicator of your state of mind. This means you can use feelings to tell if you are on or off track with your inner guidance. Of course as thoughts change, moods change. Humans also dip into habitual and collective thinking, however, the thinking process still takes place one person at a time. Despite patterns of thinking, people can have their own new thinking any time. If this weren’t true no one would recover from addiction. You may notice that you have had new thinking occur to you today. Since feelings follow thoughts, you may well have “heard” that insight via the feeling you had. Consider this:
Because a new idea is a constant possibility and because ideas occur internally, people can experience sudden shifts. We can have a change of heart, drop a grudge, or get a solution to a problem regardless of any external circumstances. It doesn't matter how difficult things have become on the outside, every human is able to see afresh, which is the same thing as saying we are all able to hear inner guidance. In fact Inner Direction is nothing more than a new idea occurring. Being Inner Directed means understanding that at the heart of the human condition new thought is a constant possibility. No circumstance can stand between you and inner direction. How come new thinking seems impossible at times? The only reason we feel far from our inner guidance is that we fail to recognize it. We are highly conditioned to consult logical arguments and other people’s opinions and experiences. We haven’t been taught how the human thinking machine works and simply do not realize we have and can trust this capacity. As your voice of Inner Directedness is strengthened, your ability to act in relation to it is automatically fortified too. Now that we know that nothing on the outside can prevent fresh new thinking, how can a person improve their ability to recognize and take direction from it? Do you need a clear mind? Should you meditate or something?
The Most Common Question
Most people want to know how to hear better. Turning inside ourselves, listening internally is a relatively new practice for Westerners especially -- compared to the practiced habit of seeking outside sources. Consider the possibility that there really is nothing wrong with your hearing -it’s just a question of what you are paying attention to. If you don’t pay attention you may be unwittingly relying on acquired beliefs, theories and unfounded fears to guide you. This doesn’t mean you’ll never consult an expert ever again, it just means you won’t ONLY look outside yourself. This book puts attention on recognizing inner wisdom, because this is a practical capacity for discernment. To develop this inner listening you might continue investigating, "Where am I checking in right now?" Awareness will help you discover who your biggest consultants and advisors are. See if you trust them. Many people are listening to just about everything; what they are not doing is distinguishing. Think of a time when you made a decision you knew was right. Was there an unmistakable moment of inner Yes! or inner No Way!? If so, you know what this feels like and can use this to recognize it again. The whole idea of the Ten Keys is simply to strengthen this sense of recognition in you.
The Unmistakable Moment of Yes
This moment is the theme of this book. It is not always a loud moment. It is worth taking time to get to know it better, to befriend it, cultivate and most of all, to make use of it. To make your inner direction more a part of your life, recognize it is already as part of your “innate skill set.” As part of your DNA, it is already working in you and with you. It is already whispering in your ear and shouting from the rooftops. It comes in many forms, colors, sizes and shapes. As many as there are human beings and as often as needed. Moment to moment to moment. The more this becomes familiar, the easier we see the difference between personal wisdom guiding and fear guiding. When we hear it and heed it, it rewards us with a return to authenticity. We feel alive again. As children we used this natural ability constantly. Our imaginations ran free, our desires were clear: Ice cream. Play time. Not that cousin. Hungry. Not hungry. More of that please... We we were in touch with inner direction without ever giving it any notice. We had no training in how to do this. Then we got trained how not to.
As we shaped into young people and adults we began to override this inner sense in favor of fitting in, pleasing others and a host of other reasons. We began thinking: "I can't do THAT." "Art isn't a viable career.” And so on. Perhaps we put many of our deep desires to sleep and ignored our own best advice at times and yet, new ideas still keep on flowing. The source of those ideas continues whispering to each of us. How many of us would have saved ourselves a fair few troubles if we had listened when we heard our inner wisdom the first time around? We will listen one day. The day we realize that it is fantastic to be ourselves. And we realize it is what we appreciate in others. You do not need to be different, more developed, more enlightened, more evolved, more skilled or more intelligent to have, to deserve or to hear your Inner Direction. It's in you now. Are you listening?
Sustainable Change Consulting Group are business management consultants to companies that recognize the importance of the people factor in sustainable business success. More about the author, Elese Coit, on the next page.
About the Author
Elese Coit is a business management consultant and human potential expert with a long career leading successful business teams. She has held top posts in Telecommunications, IT, Web and Media FTSE 500 companies internationally including British Telecom and IMG Group. As a program manager, Elese delivered complex, businesscritical change programs across the globe. She headed the Program and Project Management Division for BT Americas before becoming a business consultant and Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Change Consulting Group. Elese uniquely combines a management results track record with the latest in human capital and talent development. She lives in the USA and shares her passion and unique business experiences in her books and articles. Her company partners with organizations to help them release people’s full talents into their businesses -- training leaders and teams in the connection between Potential, Performance, and Human State of Mind. Her book on perspective “101 New Pairs of Glasses” is being used as a teaching tool in training, coaching and educational settings and can be found on Amazon.
For more information or to hire Elese for a Seminar or Workshop contact Tel: +1 858 866 8049 (USA Pacific Time) firstname.lastname@example.org