Respect Your Intuition

by Chris Lose • in
  • April 2018
  • LD at Large
• Created: April 12, 2018

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Let your intuition lead, and your intellect will follow.

In a recent study that I Googled for this introduction, car buyers who had chosen their purchases quickly, based on intuition, were far more satisfied with their choices than those who had spent time analyzing pros, cons and conflated analysis. As humans, we are driven by emotions and instinct far more than we like to believe. We aren’t quite sure what was right about a car that tingled our senses, but we know that it was right for us. Maybe it was a feeling we got during the test drive, maybe it was the way the salesman linked the car to our identity or maybe it was the color of the stitching in the steering wheel that matched our favorite pair of shoes. Regardless, there was magic in the air. That old mammalian brain recognized it without our consciousness even realizing. After we have fallen in love with the car, we can rationalize our decision and create a logical reason for our preference.

The same is true for lighting designers. We know exactly what feels right long before we can rationalize why it’s right. Yet, sometimes we struggle to trust ourselves. Who hasn’t wasted countless hours on looks that are overworked and beyond complicated? All too often, we can look back on our time spent only to realize that we bypassed the right decision 30 minutes prior. Our intellect double-guesses our intuition in order to confirm its own necessity. We allow our left brain to convince ourselves that we are wrong because we didn’t spend enough time pondering the worthiness of the look. We beat ourselves up needlessly over minutia. We continue to delve deeper into the abyss of self-doubt, insecurity and endless options. We can prevent our gears from grinding to a halt if we use these three mantras: slow down, practice mindfulness and follow the clearest path. When we implement these techniques, we can focus past the poppycock and zoom in on the prime elements.

‡‡         Slow Down

Intuition comes from the primitive brain; it’s an artifact of the early days of mankind when our brain’s ability to detect hidden meaning ensured the continuation of our community. These days, we use this capability so little that we don’t know how to listen to it properly. We pass over our own intuition in favor of statistical norms and cultural expectations. When we go too fast, we can easily miss the clearest answer right in front of us.

I can recall a late night programming session on my last tour. “Gold Dust Woman” kicks off with a monster guitar intro performed by Waddy Wachtel. We wanted to highlight Waddy appropriately, but we had exhausted most of our bag of tricks earlier in the set-list. So we sat there trying to do this huge sweep that started from SL to SR with a fan delay on the tilt, but the pan snapped into place and the colors went from Congo to Red from SR to SL and the zoom did a really weird blip right on the first strum. After eight unnecessary follow cues and 45 wasted minutes, we looked up from the console to see the glorious disgrace of complexity that we had created. It just didn’t work. We deleted nine of the eight cues, put a backlight on him at full in open white, and a front light in red, and it rocked audiences everywhere. The back truss spot that was usually reserved for Stevie made Waddy’s scraggly gray hair pop out of his surroundings. We had found exactly what we were looking for. The solution was right in front of us all along. Stevie is the focus of the show 95 percent of the time. That is why she gets the back truss spot. We needed to highlight Waddy for just a few seconds and didn’t consider the obvious — to use the followspot on him. Our intuition was correct, but our rational brain barred us from exploring the opportunity. It wasn’t until we sat up, looked at what we were doing and took a breath that we realized how far off we were. By taking a few seconds to slow down, relax and look at our own work, we were able to reconnect with the initial instinct in a much simpler manner.

‡‡         Practice Mindfulness

Don’t freak out about the term “mindfulness.” I know that it sounds even hippy-dippier than trusting our intuition, but it’s really just a hoity-toity term for focusing on being in the moment. Mindfulness highlights and even intensifies the five senses by bringing us into the moment. Hands on console, eyes on red, ears on bass line, ass in chair…you get the idea. A few moments of taking a step back into our own body can give us an entirely new perspective on the picture we are painting. Mindfulness accesses the more pure areas of our brains that key in on deeper emotions and visual impact. Taking a few deep breaths, taking our hands off the console and leaning back in our chair for a moment can give our sensibility a break. Mindfulness is a great technique to filter out all of the distractions in our environment—and our brain. When we do that, we can hear our intuition loud and clear. Our intellect can take a smoke break and let our instincts drive the show.

I have chosen to set my auto-save settings to 30 minutes. Every time that little yellow bar pops up, I lean back, take a breath, consider my actions and move forward again. Those few precious moments allow me time to reflect and consider the worthiness of what I have programmed. If it is worthy, efficient and beautiful, I move on to the next step.

‡‡         Follow the Clearest Path

There is no Yellow Brick Road. The nature of creative endeavors rarely provides us with an instruction manual to success. It is up to us to limit our choices to a triad of solutions that we know will work. We constantly fall prey to the paradox of choice. We can see so many paths to success that we can’t choose any of them. When we are able to limit our choices to one of three options that simply feel right, we have a 33.3 percent chance of being satisfied with our solution. When we have a hundred options, we can only be one-percent positive that we chose the correct path. By allowing our intuition to limit our choices, our intellect has a better chance of rationalizing what we have done. When we are confident in our own decisions, we have more confidence when explaining our choices to others. This makes it much easier on a long tour to reconfirm to ourselves that we made the correct choice. Beating ourselves up daily over the choices that we didn’t make will only serve to fracture our serenity. Allowing our analytic minds to challenge our instincts will stifle our creativity.

‡‡         Permission Granted

This is our permission to allow intuition out of the back seat. When intuition thrives, intellect becomes a tool in the box rather than the solo artist. Let it process other tasks like paying taxes, plugging in monitors and determining the direction to crank the truss bolts. Intuition is a powerful force of the creative mind that can help us to make first-rate decisions. As with all skill-sets, practice makes perfect.

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