Multiple minds

Most people grow up with one and only one voice in our heads. It's the one that talks when we talk to ourselves. (If you have more than one voice, time to check in with a doctor). It's easy, then, to assume that this is the mind, that we have just one, one brain, one voice, one thing going on at a time.

We can demonstrate that this isn't actually true. There's the mind that gets nostalgic or excited at a photo or a smell or a sound. There's the mind that keeps us breathing. There's the mind that suddenly announces, "I'm hungry" after seeing a TV commercial. And most important to marketers and those that would change the status quo, there's the lizard brain, the mind that worries, particularly about survival, reproduction and rage.

When the plane lurches in turbulence, it's not your constantly running verbal mind that freaks out. It's the amygdala, the prehistoric brain stem (and the surrounding parts of the brain) that kick in. That kick leads the verbal mind to start a frightening monologue, but it was your brain stem that started it.

Marketing to just the rational mind makes no sense, because the rational mind almost never decides anything by itself. And managing your career or your day based on your irrational fears makes even less sense. Which part of your mind makes decisions about credit cards, personal security, relationships, job prospects and creativity?

As our jobs (and lives) get more cerebral and less physical, our misunderstandings about the mind (and the self-defeating miscalculations each of us make every day) become ever more important. Watch yourself for a day and start keeping store of 'who' is doing the talking and whether that part of the brain is working in your best interests or not.