What you need to know about the difference between your intuition and your gut

Intuition vs gut for business owners and teams

A lot of people talk about listening to or trusting their intuition and gut interchangeably. What they’re referring to is that sixth sense or inner knowing about a decision, an action or where they’re headed: intuition.

Like that bad boy they dated back in the day and if ONLY they’d listened to their intuition and given him the flick early on.

I’ve been thinking back to my experience of intuition vs gut before I knew about Human Design. One of the clearest examples of this was during my coach training. We had a thing called Triads (or maybe it was something else- I can’t remember. It was a long time ago!) This was a group with a coach, a client and a coach mentor who was the listener. 

One of my biggest learnings during these was to be braver with my questions. If you don’t know, the art of coaching is to ask excellent questions to help the client to realise the answer for themselves (which is quite different to mentoring, where you help the client to work out where to go next etc. But I digress).

You see, I had an instinct in the moment of coaching to ask a particular question. Or a hunch about what was going on for the client. Sometimes, I trusted that and it was absolute gold and led to the most transformational revelations for the client (ok, as transformational as it got during coach training!)

Other times, I second-guessed it, doubted myself and wondered what I was on about. Yup! Not so transformational. I knew the best question to ask, but I didn’t know why or where it would lead. So I bottled it. 

So what WAS that ‘thing’ that led me to have a hunch or an instinct? 

This is a great example of my intuition. I have a strength (in Human Design) called the channel of Talent- this connects my spleen (the origins of our intuition, instincts and fears) with my throat (the communication centre and how we bring things to life).

Your intuition is that feeling you get about something or someone – a sixth sense, you might say. Sometimes we don’t even ‘clock’ it at the time, because we’re too busy or life is too noisy. We might override it by becoming too analytical and overthinking things. Taking time out to pay attention to your intuition might look like regular meditation, yoga, breathwork, journaling or free writing, or walks in nature. 

It can alert you to danger, like the fact that something isn’t quite right when you walk into a room. Or that someone is lurking when you can’t see anyone.

In Human Design, 55% of people can consistently access their intuition. Some of these are also meant to ‘trust their intuition’ as their best means of making decisions. This is also called having a ‘splenic inner authority’. Only 9% of the population have this style of decision-making, so you can see why regularly telling people to trust their intuition may not be the best way forward. The Human Design Types that can have this decision-making style are Manifestors and Projectors.

On the other hand, the gut is a motor centre. It’s actually the most powerful of the motor centres, according to Human Design. Other motor centres are the Ego (or Will), Emotional (or Solar Plexus), and Root centres. All Manifesting Generators and Generators will have consistent access to this powerful gut energy, and together these Types make up 70% of the population. The spleen isn’t a motor centre- it’s called an Awareness centre.

The gut helps to provide the fuel for a person to take aligned action. Burnout can happen when someone continually ignores their gut by saying yes to things that don’t light them up, and by people-pleasing and/or overcommitting. 

For me, the difference between trusting my gut (my way of making the best decision, which is the same for 33% of the population) compared with following my intuition is that I just want to get started on something that I’m really excited about. I get a surge of energy and excitement and can’t wait to take action. If I don’t feel like that, I don’t embark on the thing (a new service, offer, working with a client, a team workshop).

My intuition is more of a quiet nudge or little voice letting me know what to do or say in a moment. This comes up most often when I’m coaching or facilitating- a question, insight or story will come to mind and I need to act on it right then or it’s gone. This requires trusting my instincts as well as asking permission to share my hunch if it’s a coaching session. It’s similar to my gut in that it’s a spontaneous thing that happens in the moment, but it’s a very different energy.

The gut is like a powerful force that wants me to bring a thing to life. People describe it differently – some feel like it’s fiery; others feel an expansion in the gut; others want to literally stand and get started, and some physically lean in. It’s another ‘felt’ experience, rather than a thought.

My job is not to second-guess the gut, to override it or to think about it too long, or I will end up talking myself out of it (which to be perfectly honest, never leads me in the right direction!)

If you’re curious, there are also 6 other Inner Authorities (aka decision-making approaches) besides these two.

There are also people who don’t have this gut response or intuitive knowing consistently, so asking them to make decisions or rely on this sense regularly won’t be helpful. This is so beneficial to understand in terms of team dynamics, so that you’re speaking the language that will be most meaningful and beneficial to each person.

** If you’re curious to learn more about this, you can book a Human Design session or get in touch regarding a team workshop


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