Align Your Conscious & Unconscious Mindset

July 27th 2015

Dan Gregory & Kieran Flanagan know how to change, shift and influence human behavior like no one else. Off the back of the book ‘Selfish, Scared and Stupid’, their rather disruptive perspective is to embrace human behaviour and accept ourselves at our often self-serving core. In this article Dan & Kieran bring us the Survival Mindset – and ask we align both conscious and unconscious thinking to create a culture of the willing.

We often advise the clients and organizations we work with that when you change your frame, you change the game. But what if you’re not even aware of the unconscious filters and frames that drive every decision you make as a leader, as an individual, as a team or even as a member of society? Imagine how difficult it is to drive personal change or engage a larger audience, let alone sell to your customers, when your unconscious mindset and that of those around you is not only misunderstood, but is in fact, often disparaged and seen as something shameful.

In our twenty odd years of researching human behavior and driving revolutionary change, we’ve observed a number of consistent truths:

  1. People are largely unaware of what drives themselves or those around them
  2. Even when we do suspect what might be driving us, we typically ignore it or else cover it up out of embarrassment or to be seen as living up to social norms.
  3. When we do become more accepting of our unconscious motivators, and those of others, we not only encounter greater success in driving the desired change, we experience greater ease as well

So let’s collectively sip a cup of concrete and harden up for some straight talk about what unconscious filters determine our mindset and how we might learn to see these filters as an asset to be used to our advantage.

Our unconscious mind plays a critical role in our lives – essentially, it keeps us alive without the need for consciously processing every decision we make. In fact, it’s why we survived and in fact thrived as a species. It regulates such things as our vascular and respiratory systems without alerting us to the fact unless something is going horribly wrong. It also calls dibs on our decision-making and is responsible for our reflexive actions and responses that help us to either seek a fight or flight in times of present danger.

The problem is, it’s not the sexy part of the brain. It doesn’t concern itself with higher cognitive functions such as language and logic or music, it simply looks out for number one, mitigates the risks we are exposed to and has a bias towards the simplest and easiest (often the laziest or least energy consuming) solutions to any issues we might encounter. Put bluntly, our survival brain is Selfish, Scared and Stupid.

Obviously, these unconscious biases were incredibly useful as we evolved over the past 65 million years, but how do they still serve us today? More importantly, how can we align our conscious mindset with these unconscious frames?

Firstly, we need to understand that just as we are largely driven by self-interest, so is everyone else. In other words, we all filter the world through a lens of “What’s in it for me?” As a result, most of our communications and conversations, be they business related or between loved ones, become strained because we are mostly at crossed purposes – our own!

By moving from a position of “What’s in it for me” and framing outcomes in terms of “What’s in it for them”, we instantly get greater engagement. What this amounts to is aligning our goals with theirs and not just relying on such things as charisma, persuasion or intimidation to get the job done.

Secondly, we need to understand that fear is a part of every decision. However, we tend to only be conscious of one side of the fear equation – typically, this equates to the fear of taking action. What we need to learn to consider is that there is just as much fear attached to not taking action as well, and by simply rebalancing or “flipping” the fear, this incredibly powerful emotion can actually be repurposed as a positive motivator not just a barrier to success.

Lastly, we also need to consider how we have designed our cultures, processes, systems and environments. Have we designed with a bias towards success, or have we in fact set up systems that rely on all of our staff performing like our best on a good day (with the wind at their backs)?

In our Behavioral Design work, we don’t simply look for efficiencies or cultural road-blocks, we also look to align the goals and ambitions of organizations with the natural tendencies of the people within them. When we do, leaders move from a position of hierarchy to one of creating cultures of the willing!

For further information on Ode team or to enquire about making a booking for your next conference or event please contact the friendly ODE team

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Align Your Conscious & Unconscious Mindset
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