Monday, March 9, 2009

The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind, Part III

In the past two days, I have been discussing the Power of the Subconscious Mind – both from a stand point of understanding what it does and doesn't do for you as well as explain how it does it. Today, I will close the three part series with a couple examples of how others leverage this power and how you can as well.

There are many ways to leverage the power of the subconscious mind, but I'm going to discuss two very specific ones, and give some examples of how these tools are helping people all over the world - right now. And I will show you can use them yourself in your everyday life. The two methods are Briefing and Visualizing.

My background, as you may or may not know, is in Naval Aviation. For nearly 20 years, I flew FA-18s for the US Navy. This is a dangerous community, that unfortunately has written most of its "lessons learned" in the blood of lost Aviators. But it's also a community that does everything it can to prevent making the same mistakes more than once. It is for that reason that Naval Aviation began to formalize it's Briefing process to help Aviators prepare for missions and minimize the tragedies that were so costly in the early years of Carrier Aviation.

The Brief has two purposes. The first, not as relevant to this discussion, is to assign responsibilities during the flight and to make sure everyone knows what they are supposed to do when. The second, which is directly related to this discussion is to cue the memories of the pilots and flight officers of what they are going to do, before they are put into the position of having to do it.

Each flight, pilots, whether flying alone or with others, review everything they expect to encounter on the forthcoming flight from standard checklists to emergency situations that they are most likely to encounter during the flight.

Specifically, there is one Immediate Action Emergencies (as we called them – because the procedures had to memorized verbatim) that comes to mind. It is our “Settle Off The Catapult Procedures” - what you do if you get to the end of the catapult shot off the front of the carrier and you don't have enough speed to actually go flying safely. These procedures are probably the most time critical procedures that any pilot must learn, because reaction time for survival is often seconds at most (and often tenths of seconds in the worst cases).

*** Click here to watch a quick video showing these dangers. ***

If the situation occurs that the pilot must go through these procedures, there is little time to figure out what to do, it is pure reaction. And it often requires responses faster than you have time to consciously process – literally, you must rely on your subconscious inputs. As such, every flight, that launches from the carrier, briefs these procedures so that they are refreshed into the forefront of the Pilot's subconscious mind. This has been proven time and again to save lives by ensuring the pilot's subconscious mind is prepared to draw from the right procedures very quickly.

In fact, I know many pilots (including myself when I flew) that would make sure to go through the procedures one last time while taxiing into position just before all night catapult shots. They would literally touch gently each button or handle that is part of the procedure – so as not to forget EXACTLY where they are – cuing there mind one last time. And it works!

Briefing and mentally preparing works because your subconscious mind has prepared itself for likely situations it will face. So where else, besides aviation, is this technique used?

Just about everywhere you see consistent success.

Most often people do it somewhat informally – and they see good results. But if they were to just start formalizing the practice, they would generate considerably better results in every endeavor of their lives.

For example, game preparation for any sporting event is about going over the game plan and the plays that you expect to use – and how the opponent may react. It involves reviewing in your mind what you are going to do, when, and how - thinking through at some level all the differing problems you might face and what actions you would like to take when they happen.

It's important to note, that this is in no way a guarantee that you take the planned actions. You may choose to do something different, real time, given the situation. But by briefing all contingencies, you have a higher probability of success.

Additionally, you see this in business teams (as well as individual efforts). As an example, think about Sales Teams. The Sales Team that briefs how they are going to follow their system before making calls (cold or hot) is prepared for all contingencies. They will be more prepared to handle each situation that the perspective customer could throw at them – even before they encounter it, because the response will be “top of mind” for them. This improves consistency and reduces individual errors. And these teams that brief are far more likely to make their target goals, as they are able to recognize resistance from the customer quicker, often responding to it, even before the customers feels it consciously themselves.

And there is no reason that it can't apply to everyone on a personal level as well. No matter what your daily activities involve, you can better prepare yourself to handle the situations, at a much higher level of success, simply by reviewing what you are going to do and how you are going to do it, minutes or hours before hand.

The other technique that I wanted to discuss was visualization – visualization of both short term desire and long term goals.

Although, you can use visualization techniques during briefing, what I'm referring to goes a bit further than just leveraging the power of visualization in preparation for a planned situation. The visualization I'm referring to is about first creating what you desire in your mind – and then creating it in the real world.

Truth is, before anything can be created in reality, it must first be an idea or thought in your mind. And when you create a new idea or desire a new outcome, you subconscious mind looks at this as a problem to be solved – which it LOVES to do.

Whether it is a short term desired outcome or a long term goal, it will go through the same process. First it will look through file structure already in your mind - the solutions from your past. But in the absence of a good solution, it will begin to rapidly blend pre-existing solutions, as well as look for external (outside) opportunities to try to come up with a solution. The stronger your visualization of the desired outcome, the higher the probability of it finding a solution that will solve the problem.

In the case of visualizing short term solutions, you are most often tapping into your own ability to create a solution from internal blends of pre-existing solutions. This is often called “thinking on your feet” – coming up with creative blends of situations that you may or not have seen in the past. And because the subconscious can't tell the difference between reality and fantasy, it may create solutions then blend your own experiences with those that you have read about or even dreamed of. Some are better than others at this. But not because they are better thinkers or more creative. Instead people who are better at "thinking on their feet" tend to be those that have a larger database of solutions to pull from – based on their past. And that requires prep work - practice.

As an example, in golf, one of my favorite sports, Phil Mickelson is the master at this. No one is more creative in coming up with “off the wall” shots to save a horrible lie. As you watch him, it almost seems like he is inventing the shots as he goes. But as it turns out, that's not the case. I've seen him in interviews discuss how he tries hundreds of different types of shots in practice because he knows he's going to find himself in weird situation during a tournament.

So when Phil Mickelson has a horrible lie and can't see the hole that he is aiming for because of a big tree in his way, he stops, visualizes what he wants to do and leaves the rest to his subconscious mind to come up with a solution. Does he know this is happening? Probably not, but that doesn't matter. It happens because that's the way our mind works. He sees the shot he wants to make and his subconscious mind retrieves the method he used to do it in practice. Then it's all “muscle memory” that puts the shot in place.

Visualization of long term goals is a little different.

I'm guessing you've heard ideas about the Law of Attraction or “asking the Universe” for what you want as taught through the Teachings of Abraham and The Secret. The concepts are that if you simply think about what you want, and ask the universe, the energy of the thoughts alone will attract to your your desires and actually turn them into reality. In one way, I believe in these ideas, but not because of some cosmic energy creates it. Instead I believe it is YOU that creates the solution – your subconscious mind – not an external force over which you have no direct control.

When you “visualize” a problem for your subconscious mind that it cannot solve immediately, it doesn't quit looking - it continues to look for answers until you direct it elsewhere. If there are no answers within your memories to the solution, you subconscious mind tries to find a solution outside externally. It listens more intently, watches your surroundings closer, and does what it can to manipulate your thoughts to attract you to situations that it believes will most likely provide answers.

Let's say you are looking to surround yourself with people who are truly happy. As long as you can visualize that happiness in a powerful way and do so again and again, your subconscious mind will feed your conscious mind with thousands of thoughts steering you away from negativity in others and towards people that bring happiness to you. Its not that these people magically come into your life – they are going about their own life, seeking the things they are seeking. What has happened is that your subconscious mind has gone through all your existing patterns and steered you towards taking actions that will increase the likelihood of you meeting and engaging with these positive people.

And you recognize these happy people easier – because your sense are tuned to their presence. As opposed to the presence of negativity. You subconscious mind doesn't create their happiness nor does the universe bring them to you. Instead, you change your habits (as controlled by your subconscious) to give you a better chance of meeting these people and building a relationship with them.

The same thing can happen with wealth. If there is a specific goal that you want to create - and you commit to that goal as a priority - your subconscious mind will first look for a solution internal to your past experiences. But in the absence of a solution, it will look elsewhere - external to your own memories and experiences. It will lead you down new paths - meeting new people, reading new books, and living new experiences - all of which it thinks will supply you with the solution.

What is the difference between believing it is your subconscious mind is creating your world and some powerful universal force? Simple – in one situation, you are at the will of some outside (external force), giving you an excuse when it fails. And the other is completely controlled by you and you alone. And you have no excuses any more - for the situation you are in.

Bottomline, the power to create your world is within YOU not with some outside force. But in order to create the world you want, you can't just continue to do what you have always done, you must to accept that you do have the power and learn how to leverage it.

You must learn how to leverage the Power of Your Subconscious Mind!


  1. "Bottomline, the power to create your world is within YOU not with some outside force. But in order to create the world you want, you can't just continue to do what you have always done, you must to accept that you do have the power and learn how to leverage it."

    That paragraph is SO powerful!! Thanks for your insights and thoughts during your last 3 blog posts ... Lots of powerful, important info on CREATING a life full of happiness, purpose and responsibility. It is truly amazing what happens when we accept responsibility for EVERY part of our lives and then MOVE forward with positive energy and purpose. Thanks again ... and Happy Monday to you!! :) Wendy
    PS - Loved the info about the pilots and the video clip. Thanks for including that!

  2. Wendy, Thank you so much for the comment. This three blog series is very important to me. Too many people give away their power to others or some force outside themselves.

    I believe that when you understand the power of your own being, and accept responsibility for creating your own world, you then have the greatest power on this earth - the ability to make your life be what you want it to be.

    Your humble servant, JJ

  3. All 3 were good - but the third was great! The experience on the flight deck was perfect to input. Your experience flying is really relevant - and it gives the blog readability, makes it fascinating!

    Have you considered a 4th... overcoming old patterns that are locked beneath the conscious? (You know someone who wrestles with this!) Because I think sometimes an objective professional is so powerful to cut through the haze that a person cannot even see. You know me - the subc fascinates me.

    What an inspiring blog - Carry on! Nita