“There is a voice that speaks without words. Listen.” – Rumi One day last year, I re-read the Year by the Water manifesto that was downloaded to me while driving along California’s Pacific Coast Highway. It reminded me that my original plan was to not plan every minute of every day. I vowed to do the “opposite of my always” and cooperate with what wanted to happen instead of control it.
I was in Tampa and was scheduled to take a train to Savannah where I was speaking in a few days. However, a little voice whispered in my ear, “You don’t have to take the train. There are no options on trains. If you see something intriguing, too bad, so sad. You can't get off and explore, you just whiz on by. Why not drive?”
I cancelled the train and started driving. Instead of planning the day and locking myself into a hotel reservation, I decided, "I'm going to make it up as I go along so I'm free to follow up on whatever catches my interest." Here's a replay of what happened.
I check the map to see what’s ahead. Wow. Marineland, the world’s first oceanarium and the first in the United States to offer a dolphin encounter, is 89 miles away in St. Augustine. I’ve always wanted to swim with dolphins. Here’s my chance. I call and ask, “Any openings for this afternoon?”
They do, which is how a couple hours later, I find myself swimming with Zach The Dolphin. What a thrill to get in the water, meet Zach face to face, stroke his rubbery skin and look him in the eye.
There’s only three of us in our group so our guide turns it into a mini-training session. She asks, “Would you like to give Zach a command?”
“Would I like to give Zach a command?!”
She tells me, “Point your finger to the sky.”
I do and Zach stands on his tail and zooms across the pool. He swims back for his reward, gulps it down in one swallow and waits, eyes bright, for what’s next.
The trainer says, “This time, circle your finger three times.”
I point my finger to the sky and twirl it three times. Zach nods, takes off, dives deep and then LEAPS out of the water into a triple back flip.
I can’t help myself. I thrust both arms up in an exultant Y (think Y-M-C-A.) I am filled with wonder, gratitude and excitement, all at the same time.
And to think, I didn’t even know Zach existed a few hours before! This wouldn't have happened if I hadn't honored my instincts and acted on that whim. What is a whim? It’s a “Sudden desire or change of mind, especially one that is unusual, unexplained.”
However I believe whims are more than a "sudden desire or change of mind." They may seem “out of the blue,” but I believe they happen for a reason - a good reason.
Here’s what I mean. I saw security consultant Gavin de Becker, author of The Gift of Fear, interviewed on TV. He told the reporter that debriefing people who had been assaulted revealed something profound. When he asked them, “Did you have any warning?” guess what they all said? “I knew something was wrong.”
Their gut had warned them they were in danger, but they let their intellect over-ride their instincts. They looked around and thought, “It’s broad daylight. I’m in an armored car. There's people around. I’m being silly.” They discounted their sixth sense.
I think many of us discount our sixth sense. We get these intuitive nudges, these alerts, but we ignore them. Or we get whims, but we’re too busy to follow up on them.
My epiphany was, “If we have instincts that alert us when something’s about to go wrong; don’t we also have instincts that alert us when something’s about to go right?”
If we have a sixth sense that alerts us to dissonance (something to avoid) don't we also have a sixth sense that alerts us to resonance (something to approach)?
I’ve come to believe that when something breaks through our filter and catches our attention – for better or for worse – we're supposed to pay attention. If our gut instincts tell us this situation is toxic, we're supposed to head the other direction. If our gut instincts tell us this is a congruent opportunity, we're supposed to head toward it.
Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” In my experience, chance favors the aligned mind. If I get a whim that’s in alignment with my instincts and interests, I pursue it. Every time I do, I am delighted with a beneficial discovery I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.
Whims aren’t an accident. They are not simply a coincidence, blind luck or serendipity. Beats-the-odds opportunities are a sign the universe is showing off. It is working overtime to connect you with someone or something that will enhance your life. Whims are your best future meeting you halfway.
Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “If prayer is you talking to God, intuition is God talking to you.”
Do you honor your instincts? Your sixth sense? Do you listen to the voice that doesn’t use words – or do you over-rule your intuition with your intellect, logic and rationale? Do you ignore whims or promise yourself you’ll follow up on them “later?”
That's a mistake. These aligned opportunities won’t be there later. They are a sublime confluence of you being in the right place at the right time, right here, right now.
Roald Dahl said, "Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."
From now on, honor your instincts, act on your whims. Understand your intuition is trying to do you a favor. It has your best interests at heart.
It is doing its half. All it asks is that you do your part to meet your best future halfway.
When you believe this and do this, magic shows up - and your life just keeps getting better and better and better.
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Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create a quality life-work that adds value for all involved. Her TEDx talk on INTRIGUE and books - POP!, Tongue Fu!, and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? - have been featured in NY Times, Forbes, INC and presented to NASA, Intel, Cisco,YPO & EO. Like Sam to speak at your next conference? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com