People have lots of different ideas about intuition–what it is and how it works.  My experience and ideas continue to evolve.  I hope this post will spark a dialogue and I can learn more from you.

I have had a strong intuition my whole life, but was conditioned to ignore it to please others.  There were still plenty of times when it bust through the conditioning insisting I heed it.  Once I was reading a Campus Life magazine in the Kaiser waiting room and I saw an ad for Teen Missions and I just knew I was supposed to go to Scotland.  Similarly, when I was looking at colleges in Southern California I thought I would probably end up at UCLA or Long Beach State, but when I walked onto the USC campus I just knew that was where I belonged. 

I did not attribute this strong desire to intuition; I did not have a vocabulary for understanding it.  I certainly did not try to cultivate it.  I did notice that my intuition was more fluid, or I was more open to it, when I traveled. 

Fast forward to about 2 years ago in the Co-Active Leadership Program and suddenly, the floodgates of my intuition were opened.  Sometimes it resulted in some physical discomfort–I felt like I had vertigo or was motion sick when I thought the truth was going unsaid or someone was being very false.  I realized how much of the time I was “powering through” situations that my intuition was actually asking me to slow down and handle differently. 

Then last October I led a Habitat Global Village build to Porirua, New Zealand.  I hoped to combine the trip with some exploration about a possible move abroad and New Zealand was on my short list.  Norway was too, but in a skype call with my friend Susie she said that if New Zealand seemed like a good fit, to go for it.  (even though it was not in her best interest!).  I flew the short 12 hours (I was expecting more than 17) and had to change planes in Auckland.   As I sat in the domestic terminal with an egg McMuffin and a cup of coffee, I looked up and saw the big display for the Rugby World Cup October 2011.  And a voice said, “you’ll already be here by then.”  Whoa!  That got my attention.  I spent the rest of the trip paying close attention to what else there may be to say.   

The build itself was fantastic and I could envision living in Wellington, but I still had Christchurch and Auckland to check out.  My intuition was a combination of “not that”, “look into that”, “remember that!”.  I couldn’t see myself living in Christchurch but I saw an exhibit about Anartica that was “remember that!” as I loved studying law of the sea in college.  I woke up early one morning in Auckland and realized that I could go back to law school.  And a terrific session with a counselor got me really pumped up. 

Now I am in Auckland.  And reality is much different.  I have actually stepped into my future.  And sometimes it feels so fantastically right, sometimes I am overwhelmed by fear, and sometimes I feel rock solid in my faith–sometimes all in the same day.

I have more of a sense of intuition as being God’s way of speaking to me through my personality.  It is not yet a fine tuned radio broadcast.  It still involves playing red light/green light while paying attention to where my energy increases and where doors and window seem to be opening.  At the same time, I remember that while I definitely made a good decision to go to USC, it was not all sweetness and light.  So intuition still requires faith on my part and I have to actively manage the fear of disaster.  And here I am.

What is your experience with intuition?

4 thoughts on “Intuition

  1. hmmm…not all sweetness & light. i think that is it. i have not ever experienced all being allright all the time, but have sometimes experienced the grace of enough rightness to keep taking further steps on the path, and knowing the way haltingly forward was the right one, as far as it lead. i think that is as good as it gets, or at least i am satisfied with that. i was looking over your sactown simplifiy and could see that you were headed somewhere. glad you are taking these steps forward! altho they are farther away geographically, that doesn’t matter so much. you ask good questions which is really more important than the answers. i don’t think we get that supertuned broadcast–we have to think and choose and act. love you more than you know.

  2. Julie…..thanks so much for the thoughts, and especially the reminder about following intuition not always being easy. I have many times in my life followed my intuition, even when it created discontent or unease in myself and others.

    I happened to be talking to the girl next to me on the plane Friday and she was telling me that she just totally changed her mind on the location and timing of her grad school and was quite stressed about it. I laughed and shared that I had passed up a full ride to grad school right after undergrad to go teach tennis on an island off the coast of Maine. She let out an enormous breath and smiled and said she was so happy to hear that, more than I would know.


    My thoughts are that in our culture and society, we often don’t give ourselves permission to follow our intuition. And, others often don’t give their permission. So, following intuition becomes a double trouble decision of bucking against our own constraints and those of others.


    I believe following intuition leads to enlightenment. Enlightenment means different things to different people. I believe enlightenment means release, connection, and learning. You become untethered and afforded clarity that doesn’t exist within the confounds of not having permission.

    Funny story now, not then. I lasted less than a month on that island off the coast of Maine because some dogs attacked mine and they were kicking my dog off the island. I said if the dog goes, I go. They said they couldn’t believe how stupid and immature I was to give up such a lucrative summer and opportunity over my dog. My intuition told me otherwise. Learning commitment and loyalty at costs was one of the best lessons I’ve had in life. My dog took care of me, they did not!

    Thanks again Julie….

  3. Intuitively, from now on, I have to keep my big mouth SHUT! Great … if I wouldn’t have said, “Go for it” would you be my neighbor now?! Oh shoot … I’II have to start being more selfish!!!!

    ; )

  4. I do not have any theories about intuition to contribute, ony stories. I do think the following your intuition is normally the luxury of the young, so I am glad you are inspiring all of us not to forget we may have another chance.

    I carefully structured my post-graduate school career to include a relatively high-paying job in San Francisco to pay off my loans. (I went to school in North Carolina.) A law school professor called me eight months later and recruited me for a new center that was opening in DC. It took me about a week to decide, plus one trip to DC to meet the people at the center. Intuition told me it was the right choice! Three weeks later I was working in DC.

    Now I want to change jobs, perhaps start my own company. My intuition is telling me to start my own company. But there are many more factors now that confuse the decision and ultimately cloud my intuition.

    So my question is whether the ability to lsiten to intuition requires freedom from responsibility?

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