Have you ever wondered why relatively few entrepreneurial businesses achieve super success?
It’s about one in twenty. Not very many.
This should be surprising. Napoleon Hill said “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
There is no shortage of books, articles, websites and research about what makes a successful business and, as importantly, how to avoid business failure.
And yet the majority of businesses struggle or just get by.
There has to be a reason…..and what I found was revealing. I call it unconscious ignorance.
It goes something like this.
In childhood and our early years we are fed a diet of limiting beliefs which we are told not to question. Accepting that something is, becomes unconscious.
Which in some respects is helpful; we don’t need to consciously remind ourselves to breathe or worry whether gravity will keep us firmly on the ground.
But what about the limiting beliefs that do us a disservice? Is there a way of separating those from our helpful beliefs?
And then I remembered a story told to me by a good friend and mentor. As a child he was hopelessly short-sighted When his father realised he couldn’t see properly he took him to an optician. He vividly recalls the day he was first fitted with glasses to rectify the problem. “Suddenly I had proper vision,” he said. “And the world just popped out. It was three-dimensional to me in a way it hadn’t been.”
He thought about that moment frequently as he grew older. Of course, you could tell a simple mechanical story about what was going on in the lens of his glasses, his eyeball, his retina, and his brain. “But how does that explain the way the world just pops out like that?”
On one level the glasses-eyeball-retina story is the only story. But to me, it was clear that it wasn’t enough: it told you what the machinery of the eye were doing, but it didn’t begin to explain that sudden, breathtaking experience of depth and clarity.
At that moment he became consciously aware, and conscious awareness goes deeper than purely science can explain.
What if it isn’t enough just to be able to see, but we have to be consciously aware of what we are seeing for it to make sense.
So, exactly what is conscious awareness or as some scientists call it consciousness. According to a philosopher named David Chalmers it means a subjective experience of the mind or the feeling of being inside your head looking out. You can feel it.
Consider for a moment the feelings we all experience when we see, hear or read something that moves us emotionally. That feeling is often physical. And the reason is because of our consciousness.
This brings us back to unconscious ignorance. If, by being consciously aware, we are able to determine whether we know something to be true or not, then it follows that we can also know that we don’t know something that other (more successful) people know.
If then we choose not to learn what they know, we have either chosen the path of ignorance (which I suggest is unlikely) or we are unconsciously ignorant: we don’t know what we don’t know.
This explanation starts to make sense of why relatively few people achieve a high level of success. Despite having the consciousness to create a subjective experience of the mind, their (unconscious) limiting beliefs get in the way. Until they become consciously aware of these limiting beliefs and the resulting ignorance that they cause they remain trapped in unconscious ignorance.
It is why, faced with the blindingly obvious, some people refuse to accept the truth. It is why, I have discovered, that hard-of-thinking business owners don’t make my ideal clients.
But perhaps becoming consciously aware of what we don’t know – and acting upon it – is all there is to becoming successful.