Playing with my kids over the weekend, I discovered something that made me pay attention. Unwittingly we (my wife and I) had been buying different sets of toys for our kids!
Our son, Jesse, who is three years old has quite a number of toys, mostly cars. Seventeen cars in total! Even the President doesn’t have that much cars in his 2016 budgetary allowance! It’s not like he requested for cars when he was one year old. But we somehow got the impression that being a boy, he would prefer toy cars. So we bought them at every chance we could get. It’s not like he’s going to be queuing up at a fuel station for 5 hours or buying fuel at N145 per liter, so why not? But that got me thinking!
Our for our daughter, Chimdi, who is just a year old, we have never bought a toy car in her life. But she has a dozen Barbie dolls, teddy bears and Princess Sophia paraphernalia. Now Chimdi, never requested for the beautiful dolls or cute teddy bears, but something told us it was the “appropriate” toy for her. Now that got me thinking!
If we continue to prime our kids this way, it will inadvertently imply that perhaps young Jesse would grow up and imagine that having fast exotic cars is the way to go and perhaps the definition of success and happiness! I can also imagine that Chimdi as a young lady would fantasize that having cute babies is the way to go. These messages having been pre-installed in their subconcious mind before ever they had a chance to think for themselves is quite hard to shake off or even put a finger on. He’ll probably imagine that every young boy should have the same desire. And she’ll most likely assume that the goal for every young lady is to find a prince, get married and have babies (hopefully in that order).
In what ways are we subconsciously acting out programs that were installed in us without our knowledge or conscious choice? It could vary from our choices of whom we choose to date or not, what type of food we eat, what religion we practice, whether we pray or not, whether we exercise or not, what type of books or blogs we read, what kind of friends we keep, what political parties we support, what type of cars we drive, whether we believe in the existence of witches but deny the vague possibility of the existence of aliens, whether we pray with the Rosary or the chakra beads. Many people are what I would call socially-religious, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Hindu. They simply grow into whatever religion they found their parents practising and don’t have the courage to ask questions or make any changes because they fear being rejected.
Life is busy, we are constantly bombarded with marketing messages from various angles of every sort, the human brain requires efficiency, so it naturally gives priority to maybe 7-9 things at a time. But it is skewed more towards those which have already been accepted subconsciously or emotionally and discards or rejects other new conflicting information.
Sometimes all that is required is that you step outside of yourself and ask yourself and perhaps those in your own inner circle different questions, imagine new possibilities and really reflect on them. Examine your own thoughts, bias, words and actions- then ask yourself “Why do I imagine that it always has to be like this?”. This kind of thinking is called meta-thinking. When you think about what you’re thinking about and why you’re thinking that way.
The first step towards progress is getting a deeper understanding and knowledge of yourself. Then you can grow and change into a better version of yourself with expanded consciousness and expanded awareness.
Meta-thinking is another way of going above and beyond what most people think. Instead of simply seeing what is in front of you for what it is, you ask yourself why the creator of this object/event/app/design did what they did. It’s effectively a study of human behaviour, but it applies very well to business since marketing is essentially a study of human behaviour.
If you actively meta-think you can come up with insights, which can lead to strategies to improve your life or business. By understanding other’s ideas and actions and the motivations behind them, you can create your own ideas based on what is going on in your life. This applies to every aspect of life, from relationships, to education, to entertainment, to spirituality, to sports – any area of interest you currently have.
This might sound abstract but it really is a simple concept. The only skill you need to develop is the skill of asking why. Instead of just accepting something for what it is, become a three year old again like my son Jesse and just ask why, why, why!