Your Secret Weapon Is Your Intuition

Posted 3 years, 7 months ago | Originally written on 19 Oct 2020
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom:
and with all thy getting get understanding.
Proverbs 4:7 (KJV)

One of my teachers fascinated me at his ability to make lightning fast assessments. I was blown away by his snap assessments even without crunching through the details - just a quick glance at the scenario was enough to enable him to stop and second look. What I loved about him most was that despite him almost always being right he would hedge that he could be wrong. I really admired that and I aimed to emulate this way of thinking.

Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink is all about snap judgements in which he tells the story of how an art expert had a 'gut feeling' that a painting was a good copy despite everyone else being fooled into thinking it was the original.

It comes down to intuition, having good intuition at that. It makes me smoke when someone feigns an intuition when all they want is the consequence of having a good intuition. But having a good intuition could save you inumerable hours. Your intuition functions like an index by which you reflexively know certain things to be the case. Just as a search engine has to build an index to be usable, your 'index' is built by countless hours of practice - the famous 10,000 hour rule - through which an individual repetitively exercises tasks in some domain (e.g. chess, programming, communication, anything really) to the point that she is able to do so blindfolded. She knows all the steps by heart, all the mis-steps, consequences, shortcuts, tips, tricks, functionality under the hood and even the undocumented rules. Shes knows the signs that everything will work right and when a crash is imminent. She knows what needs to be improved and what is working just fine or couldn't possibly be improved.

Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash

This is the take-home message: by all means build a great intuition in the domain you love. It takes odds of years so it's not the kind of thing you want to spend time on the wrong road. Don't waste your life postponing when you will get started; start today, start now. It's a long journey and there is so much much to be discovered. Abandon the road that is leading you nowhere. Be focused. Extinguish all the side-hassles that keep you distracted, that are always giving birth to further distractions. Have space only for the one thing you want to shine at.