Patrick Schwerdtfeger spoke at the TEDx event in Sacarmento on Thursday, August 30th, 2012. His 8-minute speech was entitled Learned Intuition: How to Become Superhuman and it is featured here for your review, along with the full transcript.

The Learned Intuition speech is actually one small component of the “Cultivating Greatness” motivational keynote program. The full description and transcript of this TEDx Talk is included below the video.

UPDATE: The event took place on August 30th and 31st, 2012, but there were a string of problems with the video files and production. Inevitably, the video never arrived. Finally on June 13th, 2013, I made my presentation a second time and this time, it worked. The video was finally uploaded to YouTube on September 12th, 2013.

TED Speaker

Copyright, 2012, Patrick Schwerdtfeger. All rights reserved.

TEDx Learned Intuition Topic Description

How is it possible for a soldier to look down an urban street in Iraq and somehow know there’s a bomb on it? How can a tennis coach predict a double fault before the player even hits the ball? Or closer to home, how can a parent know within an instant what their child is thinking? How can you predict that a car is about to change lanes before the blinker flashes? To those unfamiliar with these situations, it looks like magic, but it’s not.

Intuition makes you superhuman. It taps into the subconscious mind to effortlessly evaluate situations faster than a mainframe. Once developed, it allows you to be the best without even trying. It gives you an unfair advantage. Even better, it can be learned. Intuition is a function of experience and expertise. So regardless of your goals and aspirations, learned intuition can help you become superhuman!

“Learned Intuition” Speech Transcript

Good evening.

I’m sure many of you here this evening have already seen the latest Batman movie which is in theaters currently. And of course, just two months ago, we had the Spiderman movie as well. This has been going on now for over 10 years, where all the superheroes that we grew up with in comic books and on Saturday morning cartoons are being brought back to life in the form of big budget Hollywood movies. And the people who watch these movies, including myself by the way, all sit there for the most part and secretly wish that we could develop those same superhuman abilities ourselves.

Well I’m here to tell you that we can. It IS possible to develop superhuman abilities within your own lives.

The New York Times wrote a fascinating article about soldiers who have been to Iraq on multiple deployments and who got to a point, some of them, where they could look down a street just like this one and be able to predict with amazing accuracy whether or not there was an IED, an improvised explosive device … they could predict whether or not there was a bomb on the street. That’s like magic to me. And even more amazing, when asked how they could do it, these soldiers were unable to answer the question. They didn’t know how they could do it. They could just feel it. That’s what they said. They said things like “it felt cold” or “it felt wrong.”

Or take the case of an extraordinary tennis coach by the name of Vic Braden who coached tennis for 20 or 30 years and who got to a point where he could watch a tennis match and be able to predict with near 100% accuracy if one of the players was about to double fault, but before the player had even hit the ball. That’s superhuman. And in his case as well, he went over the videos and looked for the pattern or cues that he used to make his predictions and was unable to find any identifiable pattern, yet he was still able to make the predictions.

Or a little bit closer to home, consider a mother who can look at her child for an instant and know exactly what she was thinking. Or for those of us who drive, we’ve all been on a freeway and seen a car ahead of us and known that that car was about to change lanes, even though the driver had yet to activate the signal. We saw something. We didn’t know what but we saw something. And then, sure enough, the car changes lanes. These superhuman abilities are intuitions

You see, it turns out that there is a massive difference between the processing power of the unconscious mind and the processing power of the conscious mind. There’s a bunch of research going on in this area and the numbers vary somewhat between them, but the conservative consensus is that the unconscious mind can process at least 10 million data points in any given situation. Even sitting in this room, you have each made countless observations about the chair you’re sitting in, the people around you and the environment we find ourselves in this evening.

Meanwhile, your conscious mind can only keep track of about 40! Or up to 150, again depending on the research. But let’s use 10 million and 100 to keep the numbers easy. That means that 99.999% of the observations you make you’re not even consciously aware of! The information came in. It came in through your eyes and your ears and it made it into your conscious mind, but you were never consciously aware that you made those observations.

There’s been an explosion of research in this area over the past 15 years or so, under titles like neuroscience, psychoanalysis, cognitive psychology and behavioral economics. And the researchers and scientists who are conducting these experiments, and also a number of authors who are writing about these topics by the way, tend to focus on (1) understanding the extraordinary capabilities of the unconscious mind, (2) the implications for marketers and companies who use this information to try and influence consumer behavior or (3) how we can protect ourselves from the snap decisions and snap judgments that we make as a result of unconscious observations.

But none of those reasons are the reason for my topic this evening. I am making the argument that we can use this information to our own advantages. Let’s use it! How can we learn intuition? How can we take advantage of the way our brains operate to intentionally further our own goals and aspirations?

There was another study done recently that involved chess masters and chess novices. In both cases, they were shown a chess board with a game half way in progress but they could only look at the board for five seconds and then the curtain went down. They were then given a fresh board and were asked to recreate what they had seen. The chess novices could only get five, six or maybe seven pieces right and then they would get confused. They couldn’t remember where the other pieces had been. But for the chess masters, it was easy. Because you see, they saw the whole picture. They saw the strategy of both players. They had a heightened familiarity with the situation which allowed them to assimilate the information much more quickly.

And so we learn that intuition which some people refer to as the adaptive unconscious is a function of experience and expertise. When you develop experience and expertise, you develop intuition at the same time. So for the purposes of my talk this evening, the question becomes: what’s the fastest way to acquire experience and expertise? And the answer to that question is … immersion! When you immerse yourself into a task, you acquire experience and expertise much more quickly.

It comes as no surprise that if you wanted to learn French, you’re much better going to France and immersing yourself into the culture and the language. By doing that for a short time, you would learn far more than if you took French lessons every week for months or even years.

If you wanted to learn how to snowboard, and this is fascinating, you’re much better off going five days in a row than if you went for one day every week for five weeks. In both cases, you’re on the mountain for five days. But when you do it all at one time, you’re allowing your unconscious mind to process the immense about of data coming in for the first time and see the patterns and organize it and make sense of it and develop intuitions that allow you to learn the task much faster.

So my challenge for all of you this evening, and also for myself by the way, is to take a more active role in our own lives. What are your goals and aspirations? What could you immerse yourself into to develop intuitions and achieve your goals and aspirations much more quickly? How could you incorporate intentional immersion into you daily life planning?

If you did … if you did incorporate intentional immersion to develop intuitions that are consistent and congruent with your goals and aspirations, you too could develop superhuman abilities which would allow you to go far further than you would with out them.

Thank you.