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Published on January 27, 2020

How To Leverage The Subconscious Mind

How To Leverage The Subconscious Mind

Do you remember the first time you tried to do anything? Walking, playing a musical instrument, singing, writing. Anything at all?

Despite all of those skills being so different, each one goes through a similar cycle. When we first attempt it, we’re terrible at it. We might even feel shameful or embarrassed about it later on.

But after a while, things start to click.

The movements feel natural. We require less mental awareness and energy. We do it without hesitation like a habit that we’ve long held.

This is the power of the subconscious mind at work. Every automatic movement is guided by this force and it drives human behaviour. More importantly, it can be leveraged when we know how to.

What Is the Subconscious Mind?

To properly leverage the subconscious mind, we need to know what it is. Already, some of you may be saying you already know what it is.

Indeed, I described what it was above.

But it’s so often that we overlook that aspect. We’re not always aware that our subconscious is at work. Because of this, it’s difficult for us to leverage it based on what most know.

Going into more detail, the subconscious mind is, in reality, the second stage of a three-stage mind model.[1] This model was developed by the famous Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud. He described the 3 levels like this:[2]

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  • Conscious – The first level. It defines all of our thoughts and actions within our awareness. Examples are our sense of smell, touch, and hearing.
  • Subconscious – The second level. These define are our reactions and automatic actions. We are still aware of them when we think about them. Examples are driving a car. There comes a point where you don’t need to pause and figure out how to turn it on or drive it.
  • Unconscious – The third level. This defines all of the past events and memories we have. These are inaccessible to us regardless of how many times we recall them. An example is remembering anything when we were a baby or recalling the first word we ever said.

All of these minds are connected. As to how it affects our behaviour in specific cases, it’s hard to say. It’s one of the challenges psychologists and neurologists are addressing today.[3]

How Does the Subconscious Mind Work in Everyday Life?

Your subconscious mind is always in the background doing most of the heavy lifting of course. But how much is it doing?

Here is a general overview of what our subconscious mind really does at the core:

It’s a Memory Bank

The capacity for information in your subconscious mind is unlimited. It permanently stores every detail and everything that has happened to you.

Whenever we are recalling something, there is good odds that we are using our subconscious mind.

It Is Also Subjective

Your subconscious can’t think or reason alone. It obeys everything your conscious mind wants. That’s at least one connection we know that works.

It Provides Balance

Everything from your body temperature to your breathing and heart beating. Your subconscious mind is what controls that. On top of that, it keeps a balance of all the chemicals that are your cells.

Not to mention it has good control over your mental level too. Mental in that you will think and act in a manner that aligns with what you said and done in the past.

Our Subconscious Mind Is Our Comfort Zone

It’s your subconscious mind that works on keeping you within the confines of that comfort zone. This is one of the reasons for us being so hesitant towards change despite our initial desires to stretch ourselves further and grow.

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Our Subconscious Shapes Our Reality

As mentioned, our mind stores past events, though it uses those events to shape reality. Everything we’ve experienced – from beliefs, and good memories, to fears, and bad memories – forms our reality. Through this map, our subconscious mind can move us in various directions in life.

How to Leverage Your Subconscious Mind

Now that you have a grasp as to what your subconscious mind is and does, we can begin to leverage it.

We know we can because we are aware that while our subconscious mind can do amazing things, it is hesitant when we try to do something different.

Going back to those activities I mentioned, I’m willing to bet that some of you did those things but stopped. Whatever reasons you have are your own, but there are good odds that those thoughts sprang from your subconscious mind.

So, in order for us to grow, we have to overcome this hurdle. How we do that is through four steps:

  1. Asking
  2. Believing
  3. Taking action
  4. Receiving

Here is how each one is broken down.

1. Asking

Remember that our conscious and subconscious is connected. Think of our conscious mind as the seeds and our subconscious like a garden. Whenever we have a thought or a desire, we plant a seed and our subconscious mind will begin growing it.

This subservient tendency can be in our favour as we can fill our minds with desires and begin to ask ourselves questions.

What do you want in life? What goals do you want to be achieving?

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It also pays to be aware of what’s happening around you and how you act.

Are you someone who is optimistic? Or are you always complaining about things?

All of our thoughts shape our view of reality and can dictate our actions. With this in mind, work on being intentional with your life. Don’t be afraid to ask but also offer positive vibes through excitement, joy, and peaceful thoughts.

2. Believing

What it means in this specific scenario is that you are maintaining a positive expectancy from day to day. That’s not to deny there won’t be failures or setbacks. But rather despite the harsh road, you know you can get to your end goal.

This step demands you to stick to your plan and have faith that it’ll pull you through.

3. Taking Action

This goes hand in hand with belief. After all, asking and believing isn’t what will move you forward. Like with anything in life, you have to create momentum.

But the thing with taking action is that it feeds on your request and your belief. Asking is more or less a plan and believing is a motivator of sorts.

4. Receiving

The last step is receiving. What I mean by this is being open to receiving whatever is coming your way. The actions, thoughts, and beliefs that you have are what will move your subconscious mind to push you to do what you want to do.

So with that said, you want to make sure that you are prepared for what will arrive in your life.

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It’s not so much as knowing what responsibilities or perks come with a new change in life. Rather it being able to maintain this change in your life no matter what.

Anyone in the world can become a healthy person. But some can only keep it up for so long.

Anyone can have a great circle of friends and people they can count on. But they can easily break ties after a while.

Remember that our subconscious mind will do anything to push us back into what is comfortable. Receiving is a way of telling yourself that this is your new comfort level. Even if you had to go through a life change to obtain it.

Final Thoughts

Our subconscious mind has the ability to tap into any possibility that we desire. So long as we have the technique, we will be able to leverage it in all aspects of life.

That doesn’t mean that we won’t run into failure. Like with everything we started off with in life, it took time to learn and become skilled. The key here is to not give up and continue to push.

Soon enough our subconscious will catch on and we can work hand in hand to achieve anything.

More to Boost Your Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on July 29, 2020

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

Have you been thinking of how you can be a more strategic leader during these uncertain times? Has the pandemic thrown a wrench at all your carefully laid out plans and initiatives?

You’re not alone. The truth is, we all want some stability in our careers and teams during this disruptive pandemic.

However, this now requires a bit more effort than before and making the leap from merely surviving to thriving means buckling down to some serious strategic thinking and maintaining a determined mindset.

Is There a Way to Thrive Despite These Disruptions?

Essentially – yes, although you need to be willing to put in the work. Every leader wants to develop strategic thinking skills so that they can enhance overall team performance and boost their company’s success, but what exactly does it mean to be strategic in the context of the times we live in?

If you happen to be in a leadership position in your organization right now, you are most probably navigating precarious waters given the disruptions caused by the pandemic. There’s a lot more pressure than before because your actions and decisions will have a much greater impact these days not just on you, but also to the people who are part of your team.

Companies often bring me in to coach executives on strategic thinking and planning. And while pre-pandemic I would usually start by highlighting the advantages of strategic thinking, nowadays, I always begin these Zoom coaching sessions by driving home the point that this pandemic has now made strategic thinking not just an option but an absolute must.

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Assessing and making plans through the lens of a good strategy might require significant work at first. Nevertheless, you can take comfort in the fact that the rewards will far outweigh the effort, as you’ll soon see after following the 8 strategic steps I have outlined below.

8 Steps to Strategic Thinking

As events unfold during these strange times, you’re bound to feel wrong-footed every now and then. Being a leader during this pandemic means preparing for more change not just for you, but for your whole team as well.

As states and cities go through a cycle of lockdowns and reopening, employees will experience the full gamut of human emotions in dizzying speed, and you will often be called on to provide insight and stability to your team and workplace.

Strategic thinking is all about anticipation and preparation. Rather than expending your energy merely helping your company put out fires and survive, you can put the time to better use by charting out a solid plan that can protect and help you and your company thrive.

Take the following steps to build solid initiatives and roll out successful projects:

Step 1: Step Back, Then Set the Scope

One of the things that leaders get wrong during their first attempt at strategic thinking is expecting that it is just another item on a checklist. The truth is, you need to take a good, long look at the bigger picture before anything else. This means decisively prioritizing and stepping away from tasks that can be delegated to others. Free up your schedule so you can focus on this crucial task at hand.

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Then, proceed with setting the scope and the strategic goals of the project or initiative you plan to build or execute. Ask yourself the bigger question of why you need to embark on a particular project and when would be the right time to do so.

You need to set a timeline as well, anywhere from 6 months to 5 years. Keep in mind that your projections will deteriorate the further out you go as you make longer-term plans.

For this reason, add extra resources, flexibility, and resilience if you have a longer timeline. You should also be making the goals less specific if you’re charting it out for the longer term.

Step 2: Make a List of Experts

Make and keep a list of credible people who can contribute solid insight and feedback to your initiative. This could range from key stakeholders to industry experts, mentors, and even colleagues who previously planned and rolled out similar projects.

Reach out to the people on this list regularly while you work through the steps to bring diverse insight into your planning process. This way, you will be able to approach any problem from every angle.

Bringing key stakeholders into this initial process will also display your willingness to listen and empathize with their issues. In return, this will build trust and potentially pave the way for smoother buy-in down the line.

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Step 3: Anticipate the Future

After identifying your goals and gathering feedback, it’s time to consider what the future would look like if everything goes as you intuitively anticipate. Then, lay out the kind and amount of resources (money, time, social capital) that might be needed to keep this anticipated future running.

Step 4: Brainstorm on Potential Internal and External Problems

Next, think of how the future would look if you encountered unexpected problems internal and external to the business activity that seriously jeopardize your expected vision of the future. Write out what kind of potential problems you might encounter, including low-probability ones.

Assess the likelihood that you will run into each problem. To gauge, multiply the likelihood by the number of resources needed to address the problem. Try to convert the resources into money if possible so that you can have a single unit of measurement.

Then, think of what steps you can take to address these internal and external problems before they even happen. Write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Lastly, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different possible problems and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

Step 5: Identify Potential Opportunities, Internal and External

Imagine how your expected plan would look if unexpected opportunities came up. Most of these will be external but consider internal ones as well. Then, gauge the likelihood of each scenario and the number of resources you would need to take advantage of each opportunity. Convert the resources into money if possible.

Then, think of what steps you can take in advance to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Finally, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different unexpected opportunities and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

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Step 6: Check for Cognitive Biases

Check for potential cognitive biases that are relevant to you personally or to the organization as a whole, and adjust the resources and plans to address such errors.[1] Make sure to at least check for loss aversion, status quo bias, confirmation bias, attentional bias, overconfidence, optimism bias, pessimism bias, and halo and horns effects.

Step 7: Account for Unknown Unknowns (Black Swans)

To have a more effective strategy, account for black swans as well. These are unknown unknowns -unpredictable events that have potentially severe consequences.

To account for these black swans, add 40 percent to the resources you anticipate. Also, consider ways to make your plans more flexible and secure than you intuitively feel is needed.

Step 8: Communicate and Take the Next Steps

Communicate the plan to your stakeholders, and give them a heads up about the additional resources needed. Then, take the next steps to address the unanticipated problems and take advantage of the opportunities you identified by improving your plans, as well as allocating and reserving resources.

Finally, take note that there will be cases when you’ll need to go back and forth these steps to make improvements, (a fix here, an improvement there) so be comfortable with revisiting your strategy and reaching out to your list of experts.

Conclusion

A great way to deal with feelings of uncertainty during this pandemic is to anticipate obstacles with a good plan – and a sure road to that is practicing strategic thinking.

In the coming months and years, you’ll need to continue navigating uncharted territory so that you can lead your team to safe waters. Regularly doing these 8 steps to strategic thinking will ensure that you can prepare for and adapt  to the coming changes with increasing clarity, perspective, and efficiency.[2]

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