Whose steering your life? You are. But not the you you’re thinking of. The conscious you is distracted by life and a different you is at the wheel. A hundred times a day you have to make a choice. That choice might seem unconnected to your future but it’s probably not. It and all the small decisions like it, when added up, sum up to largely define you and your life.
Everyday we all have to face similar choices between spending money or saving it, reading or watching TV, trying to start a business or working longer hours at work, beating a new video game or building your own website or blog, investing your money or letting it sit in a bank… The list goes on and on. Our life isn’t steered by big decisions, it’s steered by small ones.
We give into impulses and cravings, we give into anxiety and stay late at work, we feel anxiety about investing in a business or stock and then shy away. We’d like to think we made some big, important decisions at some point and that those led us to our successes. Really though, most successes started out as small decisions and only in hindsight do we realize which small decisions were actually big drivers of our life. Our personalities drive our small choices. Our personalities, not conscious logic, drive how we spend our time and our money.
Getting rich or famous is largely based on luck or circumstance, things that are out of our control. For instance, if you grew up in Palo Alto in 1970, you were more likely to be exposed to the tech start-ups of Silicon valley and get drawn in, than if you lived in Florida. Malcolm Gladwell shines a light on these hidden factors in his book Outliers. Attaining moderate success, though, is more within your control… or should I say the control of your subconscious.
Moderate success is highly reflective of personality. Doers achieve more often than thinkers. Thinkers achieve more than people who spend all their take consuming content. Starting a business has many steps and many challenges. and if you’re no a proactive doer than you’ll probably throw in the towel as the tasks rack up. Most businesses have no master plan, just a good idea and a doer to see it through. Business owners are often the go-go-go, high energy types who can hurdle barrier after barrier, problem after problem. They may not do so efficiently as possible but they do what matters, they hurdle whatever is thrown at them. The list of personality-advantages is long. Organized people do better than the disorganized. People who concentrate on a single passion or goal succeed more often than those who pursue several paths half-heartedly.
You make hundreds of decisions a day. Ultimately your intelligence will be trumped by the unconscious you. Highly intelligent people will give into their appetite and get fat, they’ll choose to read a book about the financial collapse instead of trying to profit from the recovering market. Unfriendly people will make less connections to build a professional network of, trying a drug that one time may lead to nothing or may lead to an addiction, addiction is nothing but a very long string of bad micro-decisions where the doer gives in again and again.
Good decisions can make it seem like things are stacked in your favor. Being friendly leads to more good friends that come in handy when you need a hand. Going above and beyond on projects leads to people having respect for you, soon you might find people asking for your help or ideas, before you know it you’re a leader. Reputations, good or bad, spread. People will talk about you. People will remember you, your attitude, if you’re dependable. A hundred times a day you’re stacking the world for or against you.
Thomas Jefferson said:
“I’m a great believer in luck. It seems the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
You can interpret that many ways but I tend to think he meant that life is full of unknowns but if you work hard and do good, you get a few more lucky breaks than unlucky ones.