The official blog of GuideOn, the Veteran Career Platform


When Intuition Comes into Play

As we transition out of the military, it’s important that we try to make an effort to know ourselves and know our strengths and weaknesses.  Our time in the service often gives us the ability to perform a candid introspective analysis of what we’ve done well and what we need to improve on. However, as we transition into the private sector it’s important to understand where our skills are immediately transferrable and were we need to gain new knowledge and experience in order to become strong contributors. To assist with this introspective analysis, we wanted to share some insights and research on the psychological underpinnings of thought processes – specifically intuition vs. logic – in order to help us better understand ourselves and the organizations and sectors where we can make the biggest impact.

Frameworks of Thought

At the most basic level, human beings have a rational side and an emotional side. This framework of the way in which humans interact with each other and the world goes all the way back to Aristotle and has largely stood the test of time; however, new research by Dan Ariely, Daniel Kahneman, Chip and Dan Heath, and Jonathan Haight has brought new insights into this baseline framework.  

Our emotional side is like an Elephant and our rational side is its Rider. Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant.  Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go the Rider is going to lose. He’s completely overmatched.  (Heath, Chip and Heath, Dan - Switch, pg. 7)

This analogy comes from Jonathan Haight, who offers a concise and straightforward understanding of how to understand why we react in different ways. The Heath Brothers, further added environment to the equation, which they refer to as the path. Their addition to the framework offers a new element to this instructive analogy, which intuits that by utilizing our rational side to direct our emotional side into a virtuous environment, we can sustain ourselves in a positive growth focused trajectory. Dan Ariely adds another fascinating perspective through his research, which shares the concept that humans are indefinitely irrational, though in predictable ways.  

We have problems with self-control, related to immediate and delayed gratification – no doubt there. But each of the problems we face has potential self-control mechanisms, as well. If we can’t save from our paycheck, we can take advantage of our employer’s automatic deduction option; if we don’t have the will to exercise regularly alone, we can make an appointment to exercise in the company of our friends. These are the tools that we can commit to in advance, and they may help us be the kind of people that we want to be. (Ariely, Dan – Predictably Irrational)

One of the most fascinating insights about the way that we think and how to conceptualize and utilize the emotional (Intuitive) and rational (Logical) systems of the brain comes from Daniel Kahneman. Dr. Kahneman (a nobel laureate) explains how our thinking is broken down into two systems: System 1 – emotional and intuitive; and System 2 logical and deliberate. The key advice that we share is that we need to train our intuition (System 1) to know when to incorporate more deliberate thoughtful analysis (System 2) in order to make optimal decisions and choices. Especially when big decisions are on the line, it’s important to think methodically and make full use of our System 2. Daniel Kahneman’s research is of profound importance in understanding how to utilize our intuitive side and our logical side in order to achieve positive outcomes. This awareness can be of great use in determining how best to approach our transition from the military into the private sector.

~The GuideOn Blog Team