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The Four I’s : Instinct, Impulse, Intelligence, Intuition

Euler diagram of four circles with the letter I in each circle

What is the difference between Instinct, Impulse, Intuition, and Intelligence?

The spark for this post comes courtesy the Rich Roll Podcast Episode 634: Guru Singh on Intuition over Impulse. In this episode, Rich and his guest Guru Singh talk about The Four I’s. What is the difference between Instinct, Impulse, Intuition, and Intelligence? What is the interplay between these different ways of observing and processing what you experience in your day to day life?

My takeaways

Impulse is a sympathetic response to a physiological or emotional signal. Feeling hungry? Your impulse is to eat. Feeling threatened? Your impulse is to fight or flight.

Instinct is the capacity for your body “to know”, based on patterns your body has learned over the years — this is the physiological memory and closely tied to what others refer to as your “body intelligence” or “BQ”.

Intelligence is your brain AND your body’s capacity to process what it experiences, turn this into “knowledge”, and then store it into memory for later use — intelligence quotient, emotional quotient, body quotient: IQ, EQ, BQ.

Intuition is about pattern recognition with some discernment. It’s more akin to a parasympathetic response where you step back, take in the data “on the field” and then co-relate the data points together — connecting what you experience instinctually, impulsively, intellectually — to start forming decisions on how you would respond or what action you would take.

A parting thought

Intuition is the hand that lightly holds the inputs to reach an insight, and the insight is what can guide your response.

What do you do impulsively vs. intuitively? Which signals do you tend to pay the most attention to? Which signals do you often ignore?

How can you develop your intuition with greater intention?