Each one of us has ends - something you are going to end up serving your whole life because your non-conscious motivational architecture doesn't usually change. That is the difference between your means, which shift all the time and are reflected by culture, and your ends, which are wired-in and mostly permanent. Means are simply your attempts to satisfy an end, because the ends are particularly unique to each of us. If you find something that is shifting in you, most likely it is not an end. It is a means. That is how you can often distinguish an end from a means.
Evolution is this huge program that has been running for at least 4.5 billion years. It runs a program that says Try this. Try this. Try this. It gets feedback that says That didn't work. This worked. This didn't work.
Save this. Get rid of this. This program that has been running for 4.5 billion years has basically evolved us to where we are now in our current means, satisfying the very same ends that may have been in existence for 4.5 billion years.
Each of us is serving those ends based on many different criteria unique to each of us. Above all, we are uniquely different and yet commonly the same.
So that means that each of us is perfect as we are. Each of us is exactly right. There is not one of us that is better than the other, except unless you introduce a system of evaluation that says When you get this, this is better, and when you get that, it is not so good. That is what a values hierarchy does.
When we look at ends, we are assuming that those are the creative tensions within us, whether they be toward, away from, against, or with, as those are the four major compass headings in our lives. What we are doing with our means from the very beginning, and what evolution in the grand scheme is doing, is trying to satisfy those tensions. Because if the tensions get too tense, then the pressure in the system causes the attention in the system to change the intention in the system. Over time, capability forms or does not form, and alignment occurs.
Where the Power Really Is
More and more each day, science is finding that 80-90 percent of everything going on is unconscious. Basically, our conscious mind is a very poor serial processor. In fact, we can't do much when we are conscious. Everything is being done, sorted, cataloged, remembered, and stored unconsciously.
Therefore, most of our means are also unconscious and what's more, irrational-as the behavioral economists are finding. Almost everything that we do is at least non-conscious, if not unconscious and irrational.
Consequently, we can't take ourselves too seriously, because we are completely unaware of most everything going on with us.
This is actually a good thing. All of this talk of "consciousness" and coming to consciousness may be a step down in reality to what we are actually wired up to be-non-conscious beings. What you really want to know is how you can become more effective non-consciously, because your unconscious is where the computing power is. It is a parallel computing system and does many things at once.
Think of it this way: your unconscious system is kind of like an input terminal. You get to hook up to that mainframe with your conscious self and do a little programming. In general, you can't touch the program that is already running, so your motives and most of your values are unconscious.
Here's how it can work for you. If you have a serious problem, don't worry about it in the present. You can try to define it and think about it as much as you can to unpack it from the surrounding noise. If you're an extravert, it's a good idea to talk it through with someone who'll listen and even perhaps ping and probe your ideas a little without getting in the way of your thinking out loud. It may be really efficient to talk about it, because when talking, your unconscious doesn't know what you think until you hear yourself . But then, leave the problem alone. Walk away from it figuratively. Obviously, for some personality types, this is easier said than done. However, when you do so, your unconscious will begin to work through the problem and possible solutions and will bring you the most appealing solution, most likely JUST when you need to hear the answer.
Some people call similar techniques prayer or meditation. Call it whatever you want. The point is that when you let your unconscious do its job, things will come to you when they're supposed to. When they do come, pay attention and try to look for the patterns contained within the answers.
Shift Your Perception for Better Results
What we are basically doing in the conscious world is going through all of our means and all of our value systems and filtering them - taking in inputs and judging the quantity, quality, tension in that input, the ability for it to resolve certain requirements, and then evaluating whether that did it or not. If it does, we keep it. If it does not, we reject it based on our systems. This is the tiny bit of programming time we get at the terminal of our non-conscious mainframe.
Most of us are going to have different means-means suited to our own tastes. The problem is that we have a lot of people out there who want to create a standard of how people should live. That standard then becomes the decision making model where the inputs are judged in a throughput process and the outputs are evaluated as to whether they have met the conditions in the values model. So anytime you change the values model, you change the generator of good and bad, and this is what people don't get because they are constantly trying to figure out why my model is better than yours or why your model is worse than everybody else's.
The key is to understand your ends and your means, and then accept the fact that we are all basically unconscious beings. Use this knowledge to your advantage by letting the unconscious part of yourself sort through things so you can focus your limited conscious attention on attaining better self-knowledge, which will enable you to make more informed decisions in every aspect of your life-and to be the BEST programmer for your own human being, and the rest of us as well!
About the Author:
Mike Jay is a professional business coach, consultant and entrepreneur who has logging more than 10,000 hours of coaching sessions, serving business leaders in more than twenty-seven countries. Mike is the author of several books on executive coaching, leadership and resilience including "COACH2 THE BOTTOM LINE: An Executive Guide to Coaching Performance, Change and Transformation in Organizations."