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Using the subconscious to business advantage

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Thursday December 19, 2013 at 10:00am
Ever felt out of control of your business? It can happen to any business owner, at any time. Business owners often complain to me that they are simply too busy to be able to step back and see the bigger picture, or feel the business is running them rather than the other way around. Planning is the key to breaking free from this position and by understanding the conscious and subconscious you can wrestle back the control.

Present thinking on the mind tells us that most of what we do, feel and think is not under our conscious control. Most of our subconscious runs itself, invisible to our conscious mind. In Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain David Eagleman says our conscious mind is like a stowaway on ship “taking credit for the journey without acknowledging the massive engineering” of the vessel itself.

By learning something about the subconscious mind we can put it to work for us, and our businesses.

I think we all realise that many of the decisions we make on a day to day basis are hard wired into our brains without us being conscious of them. Everything from recognising attractiveness in the opposite sex to the fight and flight instinct. These instincts have developed through millions of years of natural selection. Indeed a function of our brains is to gather information and most of the time this runs on autopilot with our conscious mind oblivious to the ‘big ship of the brain’ running in the background.

Our thoughts vary depending upon the time of day: in deep sleep we have no thoughts, in dream sleep we have bizarre thoughts, during the day we have more normal day dreams which are modulated each time we spike the chemical cocktails of our brain with alcohol, coffee, various drugs or physical exercise.

Like the functions of the rest of our body, consciousness developed because it was advantageous, but only in small amounts. Our subconscious works on ideas and thoughts for days or even years before serving it up to our conscious mind as an idea. The brain runs “incognito” as David Eagleman says, or in the words of Pink Floyd “there’s someone in my head but it's not me”.

Almost all of what happens in our mental life is not under our conscious control for a reason, because it’s more efficient this way. Indeed in many ball games at a professional level the ball travels too fast for the conscious mind to be aware of it. But no matter because we do not need to be consciously aware for our muscles to move our bodies. Indeed ask a professional tennis player how they consistently return that superfast serve and they won’t be able to tell you. The return serve develops after many hours of practice to the point that it is a subconscious act.

Using your conscious mind

Most of what goes on in our brains we know nothing about. Neuroscientists see the conscious mind as the long term planner, setting goals and our subconscious then sets about trying to meet those goals.

Think about this in relation to your business. If you fail to set clear, measurable long term goals your subconscious mind will be running around aimlessly, whereas, if you have a clear business vision and set of goals your subconscious has a clear end in mind and the results it presents you with are more likely to be useful.

One of the most impressive features of the human brain is the ability to learn any kind of task that it is given. This flexibility of learning is a large part of our human intelligence and is accomplished by the brain changing its circuitry to handle the new task. This allows greater efficiency and hence speed through automation. Burning the task into the brain circuitry allows the brain to expend less energy in solving the problem. I take that to mean, the more you plan and consider the future, the better you will become at doing so and the better the results you will get.

By understanding a little more about our brain and how we learn will help us to communicate and understand our own and others’ behaviour better and help us in our businesses and personal lives.

Andy Parker
Chartered Accountant and Chartered Financial Planner, Solihull

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Parker Chartered Accountants and Financial Advisors is the trading name for PLW Advisors Ltd (Registered No. 10396831), and Parker Financial Planning LLP (Registered No. OC347027). Parker Financial Planning LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. All companies are registered in England and Wales – registered office contact details here