Expand Your Consciousness: The Luck Surface Area of Your Mind
Not too long ago I was talking with a friend and colleague of mine, Ben Parizek of Barrel Strength Design down in Southern California. I was complaining about how I sometimes can get down about running my company and feel like there are not enough clients out there for the services I am offering. Ben commiserated, but then suggested that the next time I fly into a major metropolitan area, like Los Angeles or San Francisco, I take notice of the vast expanse and vast numbers of people going about their daily business on the ground. He pointed out that there are ways to remind oneself that there are millions of people doing millions of things in a million different parts of the economy every day. There are surely enough opportunities, if one only keeps one’s perspective.
I have started blogging about luck surface area recently. My talk with my friend Ben, who incidentally introduced me to the phrase first coined by Jason Roberts, caused me to think about the luck surface area of the mind. Though the phrase is intended to have a specific meaning, I’m having some fun hacking it.
As humans, one of our hardwired strategies for interacting with the overwhelming diversity and boundless options presented by our world is to limit the amount of data we allow into our consciousness at any one time. We are coded to filter things out. From necessity we simplify our perspective. The needs of efficiency and energy conservation have geared us to focus our perception and seek to make our options finite. According to neuroscientist, Beau Lotto, “We never see the world as it actually is, but only the world that is useful for us to see.”
Most of us have experienced moments where we felt our mind expand and change to accommodate something larger than before. Those of us with children understand that this expansion of consciousness is a gradual and natural process - up to a point. Once we reach a certain age, that expansion begins to slow. Early on a youngster can hold the floor plan of her house in her mind, but not much more. Fast forward a bit and she adds a mental map of her block. With maturity and growth, her mind can embrace an even larger geographic area. Spiritual comprehension follows this same model, I think. Our spiritual understanding expands, to a point, and then stops as well.
As the airplane makes its approach to land, we have the opportunity to contemplate the vast expanse of humanity beneath us. We can remind ourselves that, on a day-to-day basis, our comprehension of the sheer numbers of people in the world and the numbers of people with whom we might interact is, by necessity, limited. Occasionally removing our filters and intentionally thinking larger thoughts is beneficial.
Most of you reading this are among the builders of the Internet. As such, you can work for anyone in the world and often do. Businesses’ customer bases are no longer defined by geographic locale. Nevertheless, many of us, certainly me, can find ourselves in a funk where we start to feel that we have plumbed the depths of our potential customer pool. This funk, this limiting state of mind, decreases our luck surface area. Remembering to keep our eyes up and, from time to time, to gaze out beyond our horizons maximizes the vastness of good that can come our way.
Strategies that I employ to increase the luck surface area of my thought patterns include the simple and the more profound. Google’s search hints feature offers a simple and entertaining strategy. Type some random string of words into the search box and review the suggested links. The surprise element and amount of variation in the result reacquaint me with the millions of niche markets available to millions of types of businesses. Within moments I can often stop whining and return to growing. If I find myself in a really dark place regarding my business and its prospects, I will on occasion get in the car and go to another city in the Bay Area where I live. San Francisco is a favorite destination. All forms of humanity present themselves there. And as they do, they give you glimpses into the millions of variations and permutations that are possible as we exist from day to day.
Luck surface area, expanded minds and attitudes are highly interrelated. Here in Santa Cruz where I live, there is quite a variation in human behavior and lifestyle. It's not San Francisco or New York City, but it is a pretty nutty and diverse place. A small mind struggles here. So few people fit into any given social mold; instead they cultivate their inner freakiness. Such copious variation in humanity offers me an opportunity to expand my attitude. Here I can increase my ability to relate to people who are unlike me. Approaching someone new, I may struggle with a first impression wrought by a truly unique style. Hair color, outfit, tattoos, piercings, or even a business suit, or a Chanel dress can offer a lazy mind a quick label. I have to resist and strive to maintain a positive and open attitude in order to cut through the decorative layers. I have to find the place where we are all just people who have a lot in common and a lot to talk about. An attitude of openness increases your luck surface area; this is critically important for running a service company for a diverse clientele. The ability to expand your mind to accept more variation is a must for interacting authentically and fruitfully with potential clients.