Originally appeared in Planet Jackson Hole

Q: Does intuition play a role in the workplace?

A: It's easy to assume that artists routinely plug into their intuitions, but you may not know that many business owners and entrepreneurs say that intuition separates the experts from the amateurs. This is not just hearsay. Studies done over the years at the Harvard Business School discovered that business owners credited 80 percent of their successes to acting on their intuitions.

Valuing both intuition and logic are a winning combination for successful business ventures and strategic decisions. Intuition is key in timing, innovating, problem solving and hiring. The investor who has a hunch and hits the mark, the medical professionals who follow intuition in diagnosis, the marketing person who knows the next big thing - these are all examples of intuition at work.

I talked with many people who are the best at what they do to learn how they use intuition on the job. Here are three inspiring examples:

  • A manager in the high-tech industry shared that his dreams often contain important business advice. Specifically, he said that his dreams are his own early warning system about potential problems with both people and systems at work. Following up in real time with more research and troubleshooting on the job consistently helps him avoid pitfalls, leads to more creative problem solving and contributes to his successful leadership, he said.
  • A woman who makes her living interviewing people at an employment agency told me that in the short time it takes an applicant to walk into her office, sit down and say hello, she has an intuitive sense for whether the person and the job are a match. Then she uses the rest of the interview to gather more data from the applicant. According to her, that first intuitive impression almost always prevails in the rest of the interview. Research on decision making in hiring supports her experience; studies show that in the first few minutes of a job interview all intuitive information is gathered and an employment decision is made.
  • A third example of how successful people use intuition at work comes from a power couple in real estate investing and development. They told me that sometimes all the facts relating to an important business deal look great on paper, but don't feel right. At other times, the facts don't line up, but the gut says go ahead. They have learned to listen to their gut instincts in these situations, and say it has always paid off (literally).

Want to hone your intuitive skills? Start by paying attention to and following your hunches on things in daily life and at work that have little consequences. Simply be curious if your hunches turn out to be accurate. Practice this until you build trust in your intuitional guidance. The more you value your intuition, the more valuable it will become.