The 1 Word That Can Guarantee Success
Today, I’d like to talk about making decisions.
In a recent article I wrote about success as a process that begins with taking one small step in a new direction but is emphasized by our willingness to another. Too often we fail to track our progress, analyze the results and take reactive action. Rather, we act and if the results do not immediately and mysteriously align with our expectations, we quit.
A step, one small step in a new direction. This is the beginning.
Except, it is not.
Nothing happens without the DECISION to begin a tactical system of steps that include action, diagnosis and reaction. With that in mind, let’s back up the truck a bit and talk about decisions and the things we can do to get our minds to play along. Let’s talk about what it takes to brainwash ourselves to think differently. Let’s diagnose what it takes to transform desire into decision.
THE FIRE BRIGADE
When Benjamin Franklin was born in 1706 people thought about things very differently than they did upon his death in 1790.
Born and raised in Boston, Franklin grew up amidst the remnant psychology of the Salem Witch Trials and a Calvin Doctrine, which ultimately looked for signs of god’s will within the universe. This was a time in which the Fire Brigade, (of which Franklin would become a volunteer) responding to a home struck by lighting, would douse the neighboring homes for protection while allowing the stricken home to burn to the ground, lest they attempt to refute the god’s will.
How interesting, that a boy educated to be a Calvinist priest would grow to become captivated by lightning and the implications of its science, a thing considered to be a sign godly unrest. How, within a culture of apprenticeship and workmanship, does Franklin jump from interest to interest, launching newspapers, building furniture, experimenting in science and producing numerous inventions? How does a man educated to age ten, become so integral to the foundation of a nation?
THE SCIENCE OF INTUITION
Neuroscientist and professor, Dr. Antonio Domasino, in his book Descartes’s Error, writes about a businessman named Elliot who became unable to make decisions following surgery to remove a tumor from his brain. Although he retained an extraordinary IQ and was otherwise without side effects, the damage to Elliott’s brain left him devoid of emotion.
Contrary to the suspicion that his affliction would give him the ability to make calculated and controlled decisions, it soon became clear that without emotion, Elliott was unable to make decisions at all.
In her book Conquer Cyber Overload Joanne Cantor theorizes that an abundance of information, or the ability to efficiently consume information, does not provide us with any real advantage in decision-making. In fact, in the era of short attention spans and three thousand brand engagements per day, when thoughts and ideas are whittled down to their most important 140 characters or substituted by emojis, it may be that we are actually consuming too much information. Without the ability to balance analysis with emotion, Elliott became stuck within a constant state of paralysis.
Ultimately, Elliott’s experiences and Cantor’s theory of over stimulation suggests that our decision-making sweet spot may live within those scenarios in which we are adequately informed but allow emotion to guide us. Within this sweet spot, the word emotion could easily be replaced by intuition, which is defined as:
“A thing one knows from instinctive feeling, rather than conscious reasoning”.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
So, what do intuitive reasoning and our brief biography of Benjamin Franklin have to do with achieving goals?
The answer ultimately comes down to the way we engage our minds when we think about doing something new.
It could be said that Franklin chased his passions, rather than allow culture or nurture to pave his life path. But in the midst of day-to-day decisions making, the notion of “pursuing your passions” may be too grand a concept, and likely wasn’t of foremost concern to Franklin, either. Instead, in its simplest terms, it is fair to say that he merely followed his interests, wherever those interests happened to take him.
And what’s the harm in following our interests wherever they take us? And what’s at risk in allowing those interests to inform our goals? And what can be lost in letting intuition inform our decision-making in a way that encourages us to act upon those interests?
We are emotional beings with minds that analyze scenarios more rapidly than we can comprehend and desires that we often can’t even verbalize. Yet buried within our subconscious is a system that attempts to guide us, and which we may be overriding with information, analysis, and logic.
Steve Jobs once said:
“Follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
The background noise of our lives and expectations and information and logic push us toward consistency and comfort. Our minds fabricate reflex actions that are designed to protect us while at the very bottom, beneath it all our intuition pulls.
In which case, success begins with listening to ourselves and making the decision to trust ourselves to take that first step into some unknown. To fly a kite into a lightning storm, or create a chair that rocks, or tell a story, or build a business, or make the first sales call, or lace up our running shoes.
And, what of brainwashing our minds to play along? It could be as simple as providing it with a one word answer.
Just say yes.