Entrepreneur: Harness Your Subconscious!

Shlomo Maital, Yoyah Group, Yoram Yahav

Harnessing your subconscious

By Prof. Shlomo Maital.

Psychologists Say:  Goal Pursuit Operates Unconsciously! Entrepreneur:  Harness Your Subconscious.

My wife Sharona, a psychologist, drew my attention to a fascinating article in Science, July 2, 2010, by Ruud Custers and Henk Aarts, scholars from Netherlands’ Utrecht University.

Here is what they found in their research (and in other supporting studies):

“As humans, we generally have the feeling that we decide what we want and what we do.”  This belief, that we control our destiny, set our goals and drive our behaviors based on them, is fundamental to much of what we teach in innovation and in entrepreneurship.  It is fundamental to the whole strategic process involving vision, mission, objectives, goals, strategies.

But “scientific research suggests otherwise”.    They cite studies showing “apparently, when people are persuaded to consciously set a goal to engage in behavior, their conscious will start to act out unconsciously.”

In an old study done 25 years ago, people were told to freely move their index fingers.  Their brain activity was measured (then, by EEG, Electro- Encephalograph, not functional MRI). The finding:  “Preparation of the finger movement in the brain was well on its way by the time people consciously decided to act”.

What does this study mean in practical terms?  My interpretation is this:

Innovator, entrepreneur, inventor…everybody!    Look deep into yourselves, discover your true passion.  Define it carefully.  Think about it deeply. Plant it deep and strong inside your subconscious.  From time to time, strengthen and reinforce it.  Then, stand back and watch your brain drive your behavior toward achieving your goal, your passion.

Please don’t misunderstand me — I’m not saying to set a stretch goal and then just sit passively and wait until your brain makes it happen.   I am saying, the existence of a deep passion, something you deeply and powerfully wish for, seek and yearn for, is vital, because the evidence shows that it drives behavior in ways we are not fully conscious of.

I now realize that in my courses and workshops, my insistence on getting participants to think about and define their passion is well-founded.   Lack of such passion will reduce our innovative horsepower by half or more.

As Sharona pointed out to me, there is another more disturbing conclusion:  We are far more subject to manipulation than we know. Outsiders can manipulate our goals. Once they succeed, this drives our behavior unconsciously and subconsciously.

I think this is why it is so vital for each and everyone of us to have our own clearly-defined goals and passions. If we do not, others will supply their own versions, to their own benefit rather than ours.

An economic law says, bad money drives out good (Gresham’s Law).  A parallel law might say, bad (external) goals can drive out weak internal ones.  Don’t let them!   Set your internal gyroscope, seal it… and watch your brain help you fly.