Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Intuition - The Art of Letting Go

Intuition has got a bad name in our society. Intuition is thought to be a gut feeling some lucky people have. Intuition is a "6th sense," a gut feeling, some kind of supernatural sense. I don't think that is what intuition is about at all. We all have the ability to be intuitive, to make the right decision in a split-second. How many times have people instructed us on standardized multiple choice tests, to go with your first answer, trust your gut.

Intuition is logic which seemingly spontaneously enters your mind before you can analyze the situation. Intuition is pre-verbal, pre-cognitive logic. The brain is analyzing the facts, along with using your empathetic abilities and understanding non-verbal clues before you can clumsily attempt to dissect the situation verbally.

Look back at any of your knee jerk reactions, your three year old child has that look on his face like he wants to step off the curb, you grab him. You don't wait until he moves toward the street. You don't go through mental gyrations and evaluate the situation, first noticing
a movement of the child's leg, then notice the direction of his gaze, then say,"what are you thinking of doing, little Spike," before you decide to grab your child. You don't have time.
You had all the observations, but made your decision before actually mentally verbalizing the

If you had been distracted by a friend, or on the phone, you may have missed the clues to
prevent your child from stepping into oncoming traffic. Intuition requires complete
attention. If you are thinking, "I wonder if this outfit makes me look fat, oh, where should
we go for lunch, I am so mad at my husband because he left that mess," you may have missed the important clues. Mothers pay close attention to their children and pick up all of the signals. That's what "women's intuition is all about."

Any lawyers can use his or her intuition. But, to have intuition you must forgo other thought or emotions. You must be "in the moment" completely concentrating on what you are doing. If you are cross-examining someone with a checklist, reading your checklist and not listening to
the answers, your intuition will not emerge. If you ar more focused on sounding articulate and
lawyer-like, trying to impress the jurors, the judge and the girlfriend in the back of the
courtroom with your finesse and command of the English language, your ability to be intuitive
is annihilated.

To be intuitive, in life as in law, you must be in the moment. What does that mean? You must listen more than talk. You must understand the meaning of what you hear from the speakers
point of view. Your mind and gut must be free of barriers to react. You must pay complete
attention to what is going on and none to yourself or how you look or to what you are going to
say next. Intuitive requires letting yourself go.

While I certainly do not profess to be the be all and end all of intuitive lawyers, I want to give an example from one of my trials. I was cross-exmining the human resource executive about the way she conducted an investigation. She was defensive and obstinate in insisting her investigation was complete. Then, all of the sudden, she fought back tears. I was listening and watching. My next question was,"Would you have liked more help with human resources?". "Yes," she sighed. I asked how many people she had to help her and she replied three people
in human resources for 29 offices in 9 states. She looked relieved that I understood her
dilemma. She wasn't the bad guy, the company that really did not care as much about
preventing discrimination as it cared about profits was the bad guy.

In yoga, my yoga teacher says the hardest pose is the corpse pose, where your task is to let go, to meditate, to clear your mind. Cultivating your intuition is like savasana, you must
let go. It's hard for lawyers, and people, to let go and trust in what will happen. But, to
use your intuition, let go, you must.

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