How have we become cut off from our inner knowing? How can using intuition create a better world in business, marketing and beyond? Lynn Serafinn explains.
Remember the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson? That’s the story where the Emperor wanted to have a new suit made of the very finest fabric and of the very finest cut. His royal tailor showed him fabric after fabric, but none of them satisfied him. None of them was fine enough to make the finest suit in the land.
The tailor then went to the back of his shop. When he came back, he ‘showed’ the Emperor a fabric that was his ‘most exclusive’. He said this fabric was so fine and so subtle that only the most intelligent person with the most refined taste and the finest eye would even be able to see this fabric, or the suit that would be made from it. He said that if someone were a fool, they would see nothing at all. However, the truth was that there was actually nothing there. The tailor was pretending to be holding ‘the finest fabric’ and to be sewing with ‘the finest thread’. In truth, he held up nothing but air.
Of course the Emperor saw nothing, because there was nothing to see. However, not wishing to appear the fool, he said, ‘Yes, yes! Such a wonderful fabric! So exquisitely made! Only THIS will suffice to make me the finest suit in the land!’
A few days later, when the tailor delivered the finished ‘suit’, the Emperor arranged to be taken on a grand procession with his finest carriages and horses, so all of his subjects could admire his magnificent new suit.
As the procession went through the city, word had travelled about the suit. The citizens heard that the suit was made of fabric so fine and so subtle that only the most intelligent person with the most refined taste and the finest eye would even be able to see it. They heard that if you were a fool, you would see nothing at all. Now, of course, the people saw nothing, because there was nothing to see. But not wishing to appear the fool, they cried out, ‘Oh, Your Majesty, we have never seen such a fine and beautiful suit!’
Amongst the throngs was a little boy. Just like everyone else, when he looked up to see the Emperor in his new clothes, he saw nothing. In fact, what he saw was the Emperor standing stark naked in front of everyone! And being just a little boy–and not caring whether he was fool or not–he pointed his finger at the Emperor and cried out:
‘The Emperor is naked! He’s wearing nothing at all!’
And suddenly, the entire crowd saw the naked Emperor, the imaginary clothes no longer visible to them.
And finally, the Emperor looked down and realised he was standing in front of his subjects with not a stitch of clothing on.
How the Old Paradigm Dulled Our Inner Knowing
I love this story because it’s a great example of how we can be tricked into disbelieving what we know to be true and accepting what we are told to believe. In this case, the tailor manipulated the Emperor by triggering his ego and feelings of shame. If the Emperor could not see the ‘fabric’, then he was a fool. Of course, the truth was that he was a fool because he ignored his own truth; he did not see the fabric, but pretended to see it so as to appear intelligent and refined.
The old paradigm of marketing works very much like the tailor in this story. It caters to the ego and triggers uncomfortable emotions–especially shame. We are told either that we will not be ‘enough’ unless we buy such-and-such product, or that this product will alleviate our ‘not-enough-ness’ by making us more–more desirable, more successful, more of something.
Just like in the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes, the public tend to believe the hype of marketing, even if only at an unconscious level. One example (and one of the biggest scams) I can think of is the hype around ‘low-fat’ food products. Marketing has convinced the public that ‘low-fat’ means ‘better for you’ and ‘good to keep you slim’. At a broader level, many marketing campaigns also tell us that we are ‘not slim enough’, thus conditioning us to be more receptive if something promises to make us thinner. But the irony is that many products that flaunt themselves as being ‘low-fat’ are in fact unhealthful products, full of refined carbohydrates that actually make us gain weight. On top of that, new evidence reveals that fat content in food has nothing whatsoever to do with weight gain or loss (the unhealthy carbohydrates are the real culprits). Nonetheless, millions of people still opt for ‘low-fat’ products because the old-school advertising campaigns project a voice of authority that many have come to accept as ‘true’.
But somewhere inside us we know what is true and what is not. It’s called ‘intuition’. Intuition is that inner knowing of what is right and what is wrong–for us. It has little to do with brains and everything to do with gut. The trouble is, we’ve become an ‘intuition resistant’ culture, where few of us hear or recognise the messages that intuition sends us, and even fewer know how to use and respond to them.
What is even more of a deterrent is our social conditioning. Few of us are fearless enough to speak up or act against the ‘grain’ of the status quo. In The Emperor’s New Clothes, the Emperor AND the general public believed an untruth, even though it went against their inner knowing. Only the little boy was fearless enough to speak up. He wasn’t afraid of being called a fool. He didn’t care if he appeared unintelligent or unsophisticated. He was innocent. He was egoless. He had nothing to lose.
But what really holds us back from connecting with our inner knowing? And what is the road back to fearless intuition in our day?
The Great Disconnection of Self
Each of us has a direct pipeline to Truth through our intuition. But what is intuition? Some might call it the soul. Others might call it animal instinct. Still others might reduce it to physiology and chemistry–heart-rate, tension, endorphins, adrenaline, dopamine and other hormones.
But whatever you choose to call it, intuition is part of being human. The problem is that, in today’s world, our intuition has become dulled and it is my personal belief that what has dulled our intuition is too much stimulation–too many images, too much sound, too much information, too many stimulants (sugar, coffee, alcohol), too much stress, too many ‘things to do’, too much paperwork, too many emails, too many medications, too much driving and–finally–too much advertising.
Now consider all the ‘not enoughs’ we experience in our daily lives–not enough sunshine and fresh air, not enough lazy strolls through the trees, not enough sleep, not enough whole foods, not enough time to think, not enough time to process emotions, not enough time to ‘be’–and you can see how the ‘too muches’ and ‘not enoughs’ have caused us to become disconnected from ourselves.
When we are disconnected and out of touch with our intuition, we become vulnerable to the influence of manipulative marketing messages, as well as so many other types of belief influencers in our world. Therefore, if we are to shift towards a new paradigm for business and marketing (and life in general) it is vital that each of us make it a priority to re-establish our lost connection with our intuition. The bad news is that it’s a lengthy process; we’re so out of touch with ourselves that it will take some time to re-establish that connection. But the good news is that intuition is part of our innate make-up; even small changes in our lives can start to wake up this semi-dormant bit of ourselves and bring us back to a place of self-awareness and conscious choice.
Intuition and the New Paradigm Consumer
As we’ve seen when we spoke about how we have come to believe in ‘low-fat’ foods, consumers frequently respond to emotional triggers in marketing without being aware that we’re doing it. We become conditioned to respond to certain colours, packaging, trigger words or brands. We trust products whose advertising ‘looks’ professional and we like brands whose advertising makes us laugh. The more we unconsciously adopt the belief systems of others, the more we become dulled to our intuition. You might say we become ‘brainwashed’. Consumers who are brainwashed will spend more. They will also borrow more (via credit cards) to support their desire to consume. For many who have succumbed to the ‘not enough’ messages of marketing, consumerism can become an addiction.
But if we bring intuition back into our human experience, we will be more tuned in to our emotional responses and ‘gut’ reaction to things. We will be less prone to react to manipulation, and more confident about making conscious choices in our spending habits. We will not feel the need to over-spend or go into debt in order to feel ‘enough’. I’d go so far as to say that if we all learn how to re-ignite our Intuition, we can help save the economy at a personal and global level.
Intuition and the New Paradigm Entrepreneur
Business owners are also susceptible to marketing. Someone is always marketing to them, especially online. How many times have you, as a business owner (especially a new business owner), seen a business product, service, boot camp or coaching package that seems to be promising you the moon? At first you tell yourself it looks ‘too good to be true’ and you are not inclined to buy. But then you hear promise after promise, and read testimonial after testimonial. You start to doubt your gut. And then, they promise you a special deal of 40% off if you buy within the next 30 minutes. You’re still not sure this is the right thing for your business, but you don’t want to miss the deal. In the end, you go for it in spite of your better judgement–possibly spending hundreds or even thousands on it. Not long after, you find yourself utterly disappointed. You realise your first thoughts were correct: this product really was too good to be true.
Every time you had strong feelings about the ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ of this product, your intuition was speaking to you. But all too often we ignore these messages and fall into self-doubt. The classic things that challenge our intuition at these times are ‘social proof’ (like testimonials), over-hyped ‘benefits’ and extremely short-term ‘sales’ or ‘special offers’.
In such a scenario, learn how to recognise your intuition. Do you feel a rush of excitement and empowerment in your gut? Or does your gut feel tight and your groin tense? Then, ask your gut how you feel about spending money on this product. If you start to feel a great weight in your chest, your intuition is definitely trying to tell you something. Equally, your gut is telling you something when you feel fear and a giddy kind of buzz at the same time (something entrepreneurs feel when they know they are taking a risk, but it has great potential to grow).
Bringing intuition into your business as your ‘silent partner’ can help you save money and make much better business decisions. Old-school marketers are banking on the fact that you are in ‘reactive’ mode instead of intuitive mode. Don’t let others tell you what is right for your business. Get in touch with your silent partner and take back control of your business expenses.
Intuition and the New Paradigm Marketer
Of course, to make the New Paradigm come to life, we need a sea of intuitive (and ethical) marketers. I feel very encouraged by the fact that I am meeting more and more of them every week.
Intuition plays a huge role in ethical marketing, but no one teaches it. It’s very simple: if a certain marketing strategy makes you feel ‘icky’, it’s almost certainly unethical. And if that marketing strategy is unethical, just don’t use it–no matter how many other marketing schools or gurus tell you otherwise.
Old-school marketers will teach you to use ‘Scarcity’ (aka the Deadly Sin of Scarcity) as a marketing tactic. They’ll tell you to use fear, sex and humour. All of these strategies make me feel ‘icky’. That’s why I wrote The 7 Graces of Marketing in the first place. I’d love to see every marketer on the planet start taking the ‘icky’ test before they engage in any marketing strategy. Imagine what a different world we’d live in if marketers simply didn’t use any marketing that felt wrong.
I believe intuition can revolutionise the advertising industry, and that re-sensitising marketers to their intuition can help turn the economy around and restore ethics to the business sector around the world.
Intuition and Collaboration
One of the 7 Graces is the ‘Grace of Collaboration’. The move away from Competition and the shift towards Collaboration is one of the hallmarks of the New Paradigm. But I believe intuition plays a vital role in successful Collaboration. Intuition can guide us to find the right collaborators by helping us tap into the four cornerstones of Collaboration–vision, innovation, trust and ease:
- Do we feel a shared vision with our collaborators?
- Do we feel creative and open in this collaboration?
- Do we feel trust coming from them? Do feel we trust them?
- Does it feel easy?
Collaborations are often established because of ‘logical’ associations: we or our businesses have something in common, therefore we ‘should’ collaborate. But true Collaboration can never be a logical process; it is an intuitive one. By learning to trust our gut while asking ourselves the questions above, we can save ourselves a lot of unnecessary headaches and setbacks, and bring a sense of authenticity and aliveness to our collaborative ventures.
How Intuition Makes Us Whole Human Beings
At the end of the day, intuition is part of who we are. Whether it is our soul, our primal DNA or our body chemistry, it really doesn’t matter. If we cut ourselves off from this vital component of what makes us human beings, we begin to disintegrate, individually and socially. We lose our ‘compass’ on our road of life. We make bad business decisions, as well as bad personal ones. Intuition is one of the greatest gifts we humans have, and it’s time we reclaim it.
But as we have seen, embracing our intuition takes courage. And, just like the little boy in The Emperor’s New Clothes, to be truly intuitive, we need to be truly fearless. We need to have complete and utter trust in who we are and what our Inner Wisdom is telling us. But I believe this fearlessness can help us rectify all that is distorted within the world of business and marketing today.
Think of a world where we are all in tune with the Inner Knowing of our intuition. It would be a world where we know what is best for us. We would not drive ourselves into despair due to feelings of shame or lack. We would make stronger friendships and business alliances. We would buy what we actually need, rather than what we were told we need. We would not seek to control others, because the very thought of it would make us feel uncomfortable. We would feel greater compassion and empathy. We would lead ethical lives and run ethical businesses simply because IT FELT GOOD.
And then, in this ‘stark nakedness’ of who we truly are, there would no longer be any ego or shame to cover up. The ‘suits’ we would wear as we walk through life would indeed be made of the finest cloth, and stitched with the finest thread, for these suits would be woven from the fabric of who we really are.
At last, we would all be able to see each other clearly.
I’d love to hear what you have to say on this topic. How has intuition helped you in your business marketing? How have you learned to connect with it more? What do you believe intuition can bring to the world? Please share your intuitive comments, thoughts and experiences below.
24th September 2013
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The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing.
Brit Writers Awards Finalist
eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically, by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media.
eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)