Acting on Intuition at Work: What makes following that small voice difficult?

What makes following that small voice difficult?

In early February 2016, I had just successfully organized the conference Women Redefining Entrepreneurship at Cornell University. It was my first time doing anything with that many moving parts and not only had we sold out, but had a waiting list. Despite my chronically running late 10 minutes to everything in life, it ran on time. The attendees stayed until the very end of the night, connecting, laughing and expressing appreciation.


A week later, my executive director asked to meet. He wanted to discuss setting the date for the next conference. This felt like a vote of confidence that it had gone well. He proposed hosting the next one in October of the same year. As soon as he suggested it, I felt a deep sense of dread. It was a sinking, “don’t do it” feeling in the pit of my stomach. But I swallowed it and agreed.

As I moved forward to schedule speakers, a venue, food, and all the many logistics, I could feel my feet dragging. I kept rationalizing it away. I tried to tell myself maybe I just didn’t feel like jumping into that much work again, but that didn’t ring true. I tried to tell that small, persistent voice that it was just afraid. Also, didn’t feel true.

Finally, it became clear that there were multiple large competing events happening the same day we had scheduled the conference. I decided to pull the plug after having all the speakers booked because we weren’t getting even a third of the registration numbers we needed. I kicked myself for not having listened to my intuition.

What makes it so hard to not just listen to our intuition, but also act on it at work?

Acting on your intuition requires faith because it might not have any evidence yet to back it up. We live in a world that values numbers, ROI, science, and what can be proven. But there are moments in life when the greatest insight needs none of that evidence to be true.

Your intuition doesn’t care about the status quo. It’s not afraid of upsetting your relationships, standing out, or taking a different path. It doesn’t mean that intuition is a destructive force, but it can be disruptive.

Your intuition is not concerned with survival. It cares about expressing your truth and the wisdom that comes through you. My not speaking up to my boss was based in fear, but if I had spoken up and let that dread get expressed, I might have saved all of us a lot of time and effort.

Your intuitive voice is a source of originality. It’s not the part of you that’s influenced by other people’s opinions, the past, or fear. It’s creative, tuned into the present and offers guidance that’s specific to you.