4-Pillars to Success

My last blog-series explored the foundation of the 4-Pillars to Success methodology. This blog is the starting point for the next set, focusing on the individual capacities.

We shall start with the Intellectual Capacity (IC). But first, what construes as intellect?

Mindful or Mindless

Our actions though generally deliberate, are not always within our control. They are driven by our mind, yet not always through accrued intelligence. There are three stages that represent our state of mind: 1) unconscious, 2) subconscious, and 3) conscious – composed of ingrained and acquired knowledge.

Unconscious Stage – crucial for survival: Let’s look at a critical activity that keeps us alive – the heartbeat. In its default state, it operates completely independent of our consciousness. We can affect it say by running fast or mindful meditation, thus forcing the unconscious mind to respond by increasing or slowing the heartbeat.

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But outside of that, we have little if any control over its natural course. Blinking and breathing are other examples of continuous ingrained activities outside of our full control. Though we can have brief interference by either shutting our eyes deliberately or forcefully keeping them open, or taking deeper or shorter breaths, their operation is largely beyond our control.

Our life depends on these unconscious activities. For instance, when a child is born, inhaling – by design is auto-piloted. There is no acquired knowledge behind the activity, there is no conscious response, only a precogitated, ingrained reaction. It is completely unconscious.

Subconscious Stage – crucial for reasoning: Subconscious absorbs all the information obtained through all of our senses and processes and stores in various clusters with synapses. When reading a book, or riding in a car, or in a noisy restaurant, we record and store all the information, yet consciously respond only to things that pertain to our immediate needs. Think of the way we filter everything that we hear at a loud bar until someone says our name, then we are ‘all ears’. It isn’t as if we were not hearing all the chatter prior to our name being called. Our brain was in fact recording, filtering, and storing until hearing our name triggered an immediate response, a conscious one.

Conscious Stage – crucial for acting: Consciousness is a deliberate stage that is most often used by  conscious us, yet it has the slowest response time because it requires coordination with subconscious before carrying an act. The conscious mind is having you read this and you subconsciously believe or not what you have read thus far. That gut feeling of yours is very powerful, not because it is mystical, but rather because our subconscious mind evaluates all of the information that we possess and based on that assessment, it presents choices for us. Our conscious mind, the weakest and the least informed of the three, then either agrees with it or not. And that’s how we, at times, do things that we want to forget we ever did.

Mindful Action

At the time of birth, we have no tangible control of the events that can foster or threaten our survival. Unconscious mind – our ingrained knowledge takes control. Ingrained knowledge is a large part of our early ability to staying alive, the rest is accomplished through our acquiring knowledge and building episodic memory (memory for past events, thereby the ability to imagine future affairs – by Thomas Suddendorf: The Gap), which power our conscious and subconscious minds.

The collaboration of the three stages gives us the best chance for success, especially when presented with an unlikely scenario. Imagine that we suddenly encountered a large predator – a Tiger. Our heart will immediately start racing (ingrained activity, produced by unconscious mind yet prompted by the subconscious that identifies the level of the threat) prompting an immediate response. We will likely start running and importantly away from it (conscious activity – selection of direction). At some point we may even leap over a 6 foot tall barrier, which at any other time would have been unfathomable to even imagine.

It is a collaboration of all three stages that increases the chances of a favorable outcome. The unconscious mind pumps the adrenaline faster and shuts down other energy consuming operations thus enhancing our operation, and subconscious mind makes all sorts of calculations of depth, distance, etc. based on total knowledge, and last, the conscious mind makes the attempt to leap. The collaborative effort shuts down every other ‘open window’ in our head to fully support the activity that will help avoid the immediate danger, thereby improving our chances of finding and applying a solution to survive the encounter. When in that condition, regardless of how much debt one has, the relationship disasters they are in, work issues they face, etc. all is ‘forgotten’ for the time to enable all available resources to focus on a single agenda – staying alive…

We will explore how we acquire knowledge in the next blog.