We like to think that we make rational, proactive decisions based on facts. Yet, any good salesperson or marketer will tell you that people decide based on emotion, on the subjective. Only after our initial impulse does the rational mind kick in to justify the choice.
That emotional decision is often based on pre-programmed propensities and cultural norms with each of us having our own filters.
In my college days in the 1960’s, I trusted long-hairs not crew-cuts, and blue genes not suits. Today, that differs.
Yet, if we go deeper, if we are able to listen to our inner voice, inevitable subjective decision-making can be powerful and effective.
How can we be more conscious and make better choices?
When running a business, we make scores of choices each day — whether it be in operations, marketing, sales, negotiating, delegating, managing, hiring or firing. Any one of those decisions could have huge consequences to the well-being of the business.
So, how do we choose?
If it is a major decision, we try to be objective. We weigh pros and cons, draw from our knowledge and experience, and discuss with others. Still, we must take the leap. We must choose, and we never have enough information because the future always differs from the past. That leap is based on decision, and choice comes from inside.
If we consciously go inside, we can look for inner truth. We look to our sense of knowingness. The deeper we go, the more proactive we can be, and the less the past limits us.
The advantage of the daily practice of Transcendental Meditation is that we habitually go inward. We experience subtle and powerful levels of thought in silence.
Because of the habit of turning our senses inward, we can go inside to experience our truth, that sense of rightness. We call that experience “intuition.” If we make a habit of going within for answers, then the process becomes spontaneous. When I remember to stop and go inside to feel centered and knowing, I can allow the answer to come.
The courage to act
Once we feel we know the direction from our inward experience, we should decide from common sense and objectivity.
Suppose that “common sense” triggers fear. We must ask, is that fear coming from pre-programmed reactive mode — “I can’t trust anyone wearing a suit.”
We need to introspect again. When we get centered and quiet, do we still know it is the right decision, or do we feel for now it is better not to act?
Inner knowingness and outer validation combined gives us the confidence and courage to move forward.
1000’s decide to move to Fairfield, Iowa
In 1979, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi asked those practicing advanced Transcendental Meditation techniques to move to Fairfield, Iowa and Maharishi International University in (now Maharishi University of Management). He told us “Meditate together at M.I.U. and create world peace. You will be rewarded 10,000 times over spiritually and materially.”
Thousands of meditators like me heard the request. Yes, we had all experienced significant, even life-changing benefits from TM. We also had our doubts because of Maharishi’s propensity to speak of the ideal: “Heaven on Earth,” “Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment,” “Bliss, not suffering, is the nature of life.”
For most of us, moving to Fairfield made no sense. Many of us were in our 20’s and 30’s just starting our careers and families. How would we support ourselves? We didn’t farm, and many of us weren’t ready to work at Maharishi International University in exchange for a dorm room and board.
At the time I had an excellent position as a software engineer at Hewlett-Packard in California’s sunny and mild Silicon Valley. A short drive took me to the ocean, San Francisco or Yosemite. Now Maharishi asked us to move to a land of corn-growing and pig farming with hot summers and cold winters, hundreds of miles from a significant body of water, and five hours from the major Midwestern cities.
Yet I came, ignoring my family’s pleadings and “common sense.” 1000’s of others also came! We followed our inner voice and moved to Fairfield. How come?
Deep within it just felt right. Outer validation came from TM’s benefits, Maharishi’s encouragement and our unwillingness to conform to cultural norms.
The courage to listen to that inner voice
Reflecting, I suppose it could be called courageous to leave a great job at Hewlett-Packard in sunny California and move to Iowa without job prospects. Fortunately, I could not ignore the strong pull inside. The pull was stronger than my skepticism of Maharishi’s promise or fear of the unknown. If I stayed in California, I knew I would always regret not being true to myself.
From that same decision made by thousands of us, we created a special community. Together, we meditated in large domes for our personal evolution and the well-being of the world.
During the day, we started hundreds of small businesses. We did so even though many of us as former anti-establishment hippies, knew little about business. Lots of businesses failed. Others succeeded but stayed small. Still others ended up being sold for hundreds of millions of dollars.