“There are all kinds of different voices in our heads, and often we are listening to our rational mind instead of our intuition.”
What do you listen to when you make decisions? Should you listen to intuition, statistics, or experience?
This is a 5-minute Friday episode about the Invisible Scripts, the voices and programs in our mind that control our decision making.
This episode talks about the variety of influences on our dreams and decisions. Our lives often unknowingly followed a script written by tradition, culture, and heritage. But this is not always the right path to lead. Do not just do what the world tells you to do. Sometimes, we should forget all these rational decisions and listen to those butterflies within us.
I was talking with Jeff Shapiro the other day – he is a paraglider, rock climber, BASE jumper, and wing suit athlete that has had many of his friends die from these dangerous pursuits. We were talking about risk management and what voice in your head you should listen to when you are doing a highly dangerous activity and want to minimize the risk of death. It got me thinking about decision making and why intuition is so hard to listen to.
If it were easy to listen to our intuition, I wouldn’t have been divorced just 16 months after I got married.
I knew deep down that I didn’t want to get married, I wasn’t even sure whether I wanted to stay in a relationship. But I also knew that I loved my ex and wanted to make her happy.
My intuition was telling me “Don’t get married”.
Another voice said, “It’s the right thing to do. You owe it to her after dating for three years.”
Another voice said, “Getting married will save the relationship”.
Now with hindsight, I see that my intuition would have been the right voice to listen to.
What about with career decisions? What do the voices in our heads tell us?
I followed a dream of becoming a professional cyclist, but then I stopped to follow a different dream of becoming a scientist. This was a very confusing decision because it was a mix of my own dream and dreams came from other people. Cycling was my dream. Being a scientist was a script I inherited from somewhere, it wasn’t totally mine.
I always wanted to be an explorer and adventurer. I was chasing a feeling of being a hero. With bike racing, that was covered.
Going after a PhD in microbiology was a mash up of my true dream of being an explorer (because I was doing extremophile research in Yellowstone National Park) and my invisible script telling me to be a scientist.
This invisible script wasn’t something I got from anyone in particular, but a presumed destiny I picked up along the way in life. My teachers told me I was good at science and biology, my father was a microbiologist, and I think science is really cool, so all the arrows pointed toward a career in science.
When I was out in the field collecting samples, I was living ‘my dream’, but when I was back in the lab analyzing them, I was living someone else’s dream. And the rational voice in my head and my intuition couldn’t really figure out what wasn’t working for me.
I recently finished reading Charlamagne Tha God’s book “Black Privilege”. In it, he talks about how his mentor told him “fuck your dreams if they aren’t yours”. Charlamange wanted to be a rapper and he was no good, but his mentor saw that he was a natural behind the mic as a radio DJ. He was only chasing the dream of being a rapper because sports and rapping were the two main ways out of the hood.
I already have dreams for my nine month old son. I see innate talent and ability in him that I hope he gets to take to advantage of. I’m sure many of the things that I do and talk about will become his invisible scripts. Because he is American, he will have all other sorts of dreams charted out for him. His well-meaning teachers and friends will encourage him to pursue one thing or another. But he will eventually have to uncover his own dreams beneath all that.
As an outsider, I’m seeing some blatantly obvious scripts playing for people in the former soviet republics that I have been in for the last five months – for example people are not willing to pay to improve themselves. The script says “learning new skills should be free and provided by the government”. Or maybe, “I don’t believe I self improvement will work for me”.
Here are some more example invisible scripts:
“I have to go to graduate school to get a good job”
“Buying a home is a good investment”
“I’ll be happy once I have more money”
“If I have kids I need to settle down and stop traveling”
I love the book “Steal like an artist” by Austin Kleon. He talks about modeling your creative work after other people’s work that you love, and it will become your own.
I’ve done this so many times in business – started a podcast, crowd funded a book, become a coach. But you have to make them your own.
So how do you tell the difference between what is really good for you (actions that truly match your dreams), vs. another tasty idea that someone else did really successfully but isn’t for you?
Pay attention to when you feel discontent, when you feel “icky”, when you avoid doing something, or when something is hard over and over. This might be your intuition trying to tell you that you are playing a role in an invisible script that isn’t for you.