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MitonOptimal Weekly Comment - Week 14, 2015 - imageI am currently reading a book by Adrianna Huffington, founder of  ‘The Huffington Post’ fame, called ‘Thrive’ which makes very interesting reading. Essentially an autobiography about life, but in particular well-being, wisdom, wonder, giving and generally having a “well balanced stool”. I highly recommend it. However one important chapter highlighted an interesting point which I wanted to share.

Within the wisdom chapters, Adrianna chats about the “power of the hunch” and the absence of wisdom as interlinked. Pompeii, an ancient city wiped out by the AD 79 volcanic eruption (and visited by the Campbell family on sabbatical last year) had many tremor warnings from Mt Vesuvius before the eruption. However the warning signs of impending doom were dismissed as “not particularly alarming”! I’m not sure what about smoke belching from Mt Vesuvius wasn’t alarming but that is not really the point if this story.

One big source of wisdom is intuition. We’ve all experienced it: a hunch, an inkling, our inner voice, or a message we can’t explain. For some the word conjures up “new age” thinking, or even more hippy connotations, but the reality is that many events in the world have turned out to be right because of intuition. Essentially we know that our intuition can at times be more accurate than trying to bear down on a problem with cold, hard logic.

The third-century philosopher Plotinus apparently wrote that there are three kinds of knowledge: “opinion, science, illumination“. I guess the meaning of the first is group thinking, the second factual or technically provable and the third intuition. The internet has made the first two types of knowledge very easy to come by but it has taken us further away from the intuition or gut feel.

In fact science has confirmed how important intuition is in the way we make decisions. Many of the world’s most important decisions are not arrived at by linear reasoning, but by intuition. Intuition based decisions are a) rapid, b) not conscious c) used for decisions involving multiple dimensions d) based on vast stores of prior experiences, e) characteristic of experts, f) not easily or accurately articulated afterwards, and g) often made with high degrees of confidence.

However in the modern communication revolution, we often seek to wait and then confirm our intuitive response or decision. The constant chirping of smart phones, Google, the groaning of inbox search or the whirring of analytical software programs and spreadsheets are sought as evidence.

Many will appeal that our hyper connectedness is the snake lurking in our digital Garden of Eden and this is most definitely one of the things that is making it harder and harder to connect with our wisdom. People have pathological relationships with their devices and are finding it harder and harder to unplug.

If you have read this far, you obviously can read more than 140 characters as dictated by Twitter! My concluding point is that the best environment for intuition to flourish is that quiet centre where there is perspective and balance and a recognition of what really matters. Most great investment strategies are based on all three kinds of knowledge, sadly the third being intuition is currently getting drowned by the communication revolution. Many may miss impending issues or dismiss them as “not particularly alarming” because there is no evidence or crowd trending just yet.


Weekly Comment - Week 14, 2015





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