Excerpted from the book on conscious business management, Business Black Belt
Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted.
Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.
~ Hans Margolius
In addition to your five senses, many other “senses” provide quality direction—beyond the limited scope of your intellect.
I was taught that we have five senses: sight, smell, sound, feel, and taste. Is that it? On a physical level maybe, but I contend there’s more to it than that. What about our subjective senses, our gut feel or intuition? We must look beyond our physical senses and their limitations to include our emotional, intellectual, and spiritual senses as well. Do you use all of your senses? Can you improve them with exercise and training?
I’ve heard that we only use about 5% of our brain… So, what’s the other 95% doing? I suspect that much of the brain operates these other senses that we don’t acknowledge or give much credit to. If you don’t recognize something, how can you know to use it? No wonder we feel like limited beings. There’s so much more to us that can make us very powerful, yet because something is not so easy to see, we disregard its validity.
The more I learn and experience the more power I think people really have. I respect nature, the supreme being for sure, but let’s use what we’ve got and do what we can.
Why didn’t I follow my gut instinct?
I submit that these extra senses make up our gut feel, our intuition. According to the dictionary, intuition means the act or faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of rational processes; immediate cognition, or an impression. Our inner voice speaks through our intuition. We know we should listen to this voice, but often we ignore it because there is no rational reason for paying attention.
Since we don’t often acknowledge our intuitive senses, how can we put them to use—let alone trust ourselves with these powerful tools? If you bring them all to bear in what you’re doing, you have so much more power. Let’s take a look at some of these overlooked and seldom acknowledged senses.
Sense of Appropriateness
What is the right thing to do? What’s the right thing to do between people? What’s the fair thing to do? Murphy’s Law says that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. The corollary to that is when you least want people to see you, that’s when you run into the most important people. If you go out in curlers thinking, “I hope there is nobody there that I know.” Of course there’s going to be somebody there that you know. That’s Murphy’s Law. So, you always need to look good and act appropriately.
What people need to see in you is consistency and credibility. And you must always be on. That means that you cannot allow your mood or feelings from a previous encounter to affect your interaction with the next person, or your continued demonstration of integrity.
Sense of Balance
This can mean many things. You have a physical sense of balance on a bicycle. You also have a sense of balance in life in terms of time spent on something, between things, how you feel about yourself, and you balance your success among business, family and other things.
Sense of Being
Sometimes we feel as though we are invisible. For instance, if we don’t show up at a certain party, it wouldn’t make any difference anyway. When one person is missing from a meeting, there can be a tremendous difference in the ability to discuss an issue. Imagine yourself sitting in a meeting, and consider for a moment the energy of your presence and the contribution you make. You can contribute your energy wisely wherever you are and make a difference, or you can poison your environment with negativity. Given that you do make a difference everywhere you are, what responsibility do you take for what you contribute to every situation?
Sense of Belonging
When things aren’t going right (i.e., my way), I feel as though I should be somewhere else where things are going my way. I don’t belong here—wherever I am at the moment. For a long time, I felt as if I wanted to get out of wherever I was, be somewhere else, doing something different, with different people. What got me into this mess, I discovered, was just going with the flow. Sometimes this is a good thing, but I had allowed circumstances to dictate my life even though I could have made different choices. This left me in situations where I was unhappy, where, consequently, I felt I didn’t belong. I then resisted everything that was happening—which is not exactly going with the flow. A sense of not belonging can be a good indication of not being true to your goals and feelings.
Only when I took charge of where I was going, who I was with, and what I was doing did I feel like I belonged. Even if I made horrible choices, at least I made choices. I learned from the results and made better choices next time. I belonged to my situation and made the best of it.
Sense of Direction
This can be a real problem if at least one person traveling with you doesn’t have a good sense of direction. We men seem to think we were born with a very strong sense of direction and to prove it, we often won’t use maps or ask for directions. But, part of having a healthy sense of direction is recognizing the need to check and recheck your bearings (ask for directions). (Remember to focus on the goal of getting there and stay flexible on the process.)
It’s amazing how uncommon common sense is.
~ Mark Twain, author
The dictionary defines common sense as the native ability to make sound judgments. In a later chapter, I discuss doing the math. This helps a lot when applying common sense to business deals. Common sense is also your ability to do the right thing in spite of direction or procedures dictating action that may not be appropriate to a particular situation. (Common sense dictates that hot coffee is usually very hot whether or not there is an official warning notice, and pulling the lid off a cup while driving is not a very smart move.)
Sense of Commitment
Are you going to go the distance or not? Are you going to come through, no matter what? Do you have a sense of what that’s going to take? Are you being popular in the moment with the person who has just made a request or demand of you by agreeing to do something with the intention of making an excuse for bailing out later? Or do you acknowledge your agreement to do what you said you would do, write it into your schedule, then do whatever is necessary to follow through?
Sense of Humor
Just because you are a professional doesn’t mean you have to be boring. I bring my dog to the office. He howls a lot, especially when we’re on the phone, but it’s fun to have him there and everyone who visits our office loves him. It’s one more thing that makes JIAN different and a fun company to work with.
Think about this: The entertainment industry is one of the most lucrative businesses to be in. Do you entertain people? How can you make your business interesting and even amusing? My childhood dentist glued a mop and a face to his X-ray machine. I wish my current dentist did that too. I often choose to do business with certain people simply because they are more fun than others.
Sense of Rejection
I won’t dwell on this one. You know what it is. But are others really rejecting you or is it what you represent? You might remind a person of someone who was mean to them as a child, and for no apparent reason, they hate you. It’s not your fault.
Rejection works both ways, and the opposite may happen with you. A person may remind you of a jerk from your past. You have to work harder to give this person a break—because this person is not the person from your past. Although your mind is stewing in the past memory, you must consciously override the memory and be aware that you are with a different person.
Sense of Rhythm
There’s rhythm in the universe. We’re talking about business here, so I am referring to how rhythm applies to business. Patterns repeat in economic activity. Real estate prices go up and down. Stock prices go up and down. Certain factors go into these things, but there is a rhythm in it all.
Sense of Space
There are several things to look at here. First, how much space do you need to work in? How big should your office be? Also, how close or far away do we sit together? Many people have studied the “territorial imperative,” the appropriate distance you feel is right to keep between you and another person. For example, the distance acceptable between you and someone else can be much closer in an elevator than it would be if you were standing out in the desert.
You can also look at space in a business sense. How much space do you have in the market? Your company may have a competitor who competes with one of your products, while another competitor competes with a different product. Your other products may go totally unchallenged. I think in terms of the chessboard as a spatial representation of my business. That way I can see where I need to do more building, more improvement, or more expansion.
I see many people locked into their business models. They could take many opportunities that would appeal to their customers. But they say, “That’s not our business. We can’t do it.” They become very myopic.
The classic example of this was the railroad companies. They saw themselves only in the railroad business versus being in the transportation business. Their view was limited to trains and tracks, but the other view includes all modes of transportation. If the company heads had expanded their thinking, they could have seen sooner that their business had room to expand. In your own business, you must imagine or visualize how you can increase your space in your market.
A Sense of Style
Notice how you react to a slob. What image of yourself do you portray? What is appropriate for you or for your business? I know I feel more comfortable when our accountants come in wearing suits and ties, although I rarely wear a tie myself. I might be concerned if they wore jeans and had ponytails. I also like the fact that my flying instructor wears a leather flying jacket. It goes with the territory. Style also applies to how you do things, how your office is decorated, and how you approach your staff. Look around. Some people have style and others don’t. What is your sense of style? Is it appropriate?
A Sense of Timing
Just as in music, timing has much to do with rhythm as well as the notes that come before and after. Some things must be done before others. Customers must be in a certain state of mind before being ready to buy. Sometimes you must wait for the right opportunity before you leap. Will you wait for a harmonic convergence before acting or is now the right time? We can ANAL-ize too much and miss an opportunity or we can make our move.
A brilliant executive is one who can spot the right pattern
with the fewest possible facts.
~ Fred Adler, Investor
Also, how long is something going to take? I find myself showing up 10 minutes late, often because of my bad sense of how long I need to get ready, out the door, and travel somewhere. (I seem to think that I can just “beam” over to my appointment.) It’s one sense I’m trying to improve.
A Sense of Urgency
Some things can wait, others cannot. Successful business people all seem to possess a strong sense of urgency—some things need to be done now… because if they’re not, an opportunity will be lost. Forever. To a business owner, instilling a sense of urgency into your people is crucial. However, I’ve found that it’s easier to hire people who are inherently motivated and already possess a strong sense of urgency than to train those who don’t get it. When you interview prospective employees, ask them to prioritize a list of your current action items to test their sense of urgency.
A Sense of Value
How much is something worth? Don’t you hate it when you pass on an opportunity to buy something because you didn’t have a sense of the right price to pay for it, only to find out later that it was a bargain?
Value = Wow! / Price
~ Christine Sofranko, South-Western College Publishing
Often, you don’t have much time to respond to a good deal when you come across it. How can you know how much something is worth? If you develop your sense of value, you’ll know. You’ll know what you’d pay for it or what someone else might pay if you were to resell it to them. I look at catalogs and at the prices on all kinds of things, so that I’ll know a good deal when I see one.
When he looked at a potential item for his catalog, Richard Thalheimer of The Sharper Image knew what he would pay for something. He knew what his margins were, when he had to pay for it, and how much space and copy it would take to sell a product adequately. As a result, he’s been tremendously successful.
As the creator of BizPlanBuilder business planning software, I have a sense of the value of a business plan and the effort it takes to write one. I know that consultants charge $1,500 to $7,000 or more to write one. I also know that you’ll take a great deal of time explaining your business to them in order for them to write it for you. I also know how much time and effort it takes to write a good plan from scratch. I understand the value of my product to my customers. So I know how to market my product. I can sell it at a profit to me, yet at a great price for someone who needs a business plan.
Team up with others to combine sense strength
Other people may have a more refined sense in any of these areas. This is how to make the best use of your management team, your employees and strategic partners. (And it’s where your competitors can gain an advantage.) If you’re traveling somewhere, you might want to hook up with someone who’s got a better sense of direction than you.
Acknowledge you have these senses and you’ll already be using more of your brain. You will become more conscious because you’ll be aware of other thoughts and feelings that you’ve got to work with. Using these additional senses will dramatically improve your ability to do business.
Business Black Belt Notes
- You have more than five senses. Develop and use all of them.
- Our additional senses are like gut feelings.
- Our additional senses are in the 95% of the brain we don’t use.
- Exercise and train your senses to improve them.
- You improve your ability to do business when you become conscious of these other senses.