Tag Archive for: subconscious

My Mind Has A Mind of Its Own…And So Does Yours

I’ve often written about the subconscious and how it’s a driver of most of our behavior. In his book Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior American physicist Leonard Mlodinow contends as much as 95% of your behavior is happening because of drivers you’re unaware of! This came to mind recently because of two separate instances. 

Story #1

The first was a guest podcast appearance. Before taping the show I’d quickly reviewed the host’s LinkedIn profile. I saw he worked for a short time at Kodak. 

My first, and only thought about Kodak in that moment, was whether or not he was there when a business acquaintance was running Kodak’s marketing. I resolved to ask him about it. But, just as quickly as I learned about that fact, I forgot about it.

As the podcast episode progressed the host asked me about my first book, Influence PEOPLE. I shared a little about the book and when I mentioned there were several case studies he inquired further. That’s when I mentioned the chapter I called “The Saddest Kodak Moment.” As I shared some persuasive insights on Kodak’s downfall, he told me he worked at Kodak and that I was right on the money about some of their business issues around their bankruptcy. 

When he mentioned he’d worked at Kodak it suddenly hit me that I’d seen that fact no more than an hour ago. I can say with all honesty, I never thought I needed to share the Kodak chapter because of his time with the company. My subconscious however, decided to do that for me. It was if my mind had a mind of its own. 

Story #2

In the opening I mentioned two incidents. The other occurred over the weekend when Jane got her first Covid shot. I drove her to the appointment and waited in the car. Almost immediately upon entering the building she texted me to ask if I could take a picture of our insurance card. She’d forgotten hers so of course, I obliged.

Seeing the name on the insurance card, Medi-Share, suddenly made me realize something I’d not consciously thought about. I’m working on a third book to teach influence, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness. Unlike my first two books, this one is a story format. It follows the life of a young man, John Andrews, as he learns about the psychology of persuasion in college then on the job through training, mentors, and clients. The company he works for is MediTech Supplies. It never crossed my mind about my health care provider when I named the company in this fictitious story. 

How Could I Miss Those?

Jane once pulled the wool over my eyes (She’s probably done it more than once but that’s for another post). I asked her if the coat she was wearing was new. She said something like, “This? I got it last year.” It wasn’t until sometime later that she confessed that it was new. Apparently, I’d asked the question in January and she bought the coat in December. New? Yes! Bought it last year…also true. 

She joked later saying, “You teach this stuff, and you didn’t catch that?” My reply was something along the lines of, “My radar isn’t always up with my loved ones but well played.”


Okay, some cute stories to drive home the point that our (yours and mine) subconscious is driving more of your thinking, decision making, and behavior than we realize. If I teach people and have blind spots, then how many blind spots do people have who are unaware of how their minds work. We’re not the economic, weigh all the options before making a decision, beings we like to believe we are. It’s always good to explore why you do what you do.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book, Persuasive Selling, was a new release bestseller in several Amazon categories. 

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on the application of persuasion in sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 350,000 people around the world.

Before You Know It

I read a lot and for the most part the books I read are good. Every now and then I come across one that’s so good it needs to be shared. Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do by John Bargh, PhD, is one of those.

As the subtitle indicates, Before You Know It is about how our subconscious drives the vast majority of our behavior. I first became interested in the subconscious when I read Malcolm Gladwell’s best seller Blink where he mentioned several of John Bargh’s studies on priming. Bargh’s work in this area is of particular interest for me because it dovetails with many concepts Robert Cialdini covered in his NYT best seller Pre-suasion.

While scientists cannot pinpoint exactly how much of human behavior is driven by the subconscious, estimates I’ve come across during my studies place it anywhere from 85%-95%. That means nine out of 10 things you do every day are done without conscious thought! If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be good to understand more about how your subconscious is formed and what you can do to make it work for you as opposed to just letting it randomly guide you?

In Before You Know It Bargh helps you understand your subconscious and how to harness its power to create more of the outcomes you want. He looks at subconscious drivers from three primary vantage points; the past, present and future.


Over the course of evolution our genes have constantly been filtered for reproduction and survival. The genes that helped us survive and reproduce best are the ones that got passed down from generation to generation.

For example, if running fast was necessary to survive because of predators, slower people would eventually be the ones who don’t make it. Over time the human race would become much faster compared to our ancestors because the fast genes would flourish.

The principles of influence operate at the subconscious level for the most part and have helped humans survive over the course of history. Going along with the crowd (consensus), being loss averse (scarcity) and working together in cooperative ways (reciprocity) come natural for most people and are all good ways to ensure you live another day.

Your personal history also plays a huge role in developing your subconscious and determining who you are. Throughout life you’re constantly learning. When it comes to getting what you want, the things that worked and things that didn’t get stored in your memory. Before you know it, that learning is in the back of your mind driving your behavior in the form of habits that require little or no thought.


This section looks at all sorts of environmental cues that can impact you in the moment. Mere exposure to something can change your thinking and behavior in ways that might surprise you. For example, simply finding out someone was born where you were born, attended the same school as you, or cheers for the same team will make you like that person more without much conscious thought.

What’s interesting is how unaware you are of such stimuli. When asked for rationale after acting in a particular manner, your mind will generate reasons, many of which are actually bogus. Salespeople have known this for decades and have a saying to describe this phenomenon, “People buy based on emotion and justify with logic.”


Your goals, dreams and desires are all in the future. What you want and the problems you need to solve can weigh heavy on your mind. Until they are resolved they can disrupt your sleep and distract you during the day. But there’s good news. You subconscious can help you sort out many of those things without your awareness.

Imagine you shared a goal with a small group of friends for accountability. After sharing you spend some time each day trying to achieve that goal. How cool would it be if those people kept working on your behalf and occasionally texted you with insights and ideas on ways to achieve your goal? That’s essentially what your subconscious does when you’re not consciously focusing on your goals.


If you find social psychology interesting, if you enjoy books like Blink and Pre-suasion, if you’re ready to learn more about why you do what you do and how to harness your subconscious, then pick up a copy of Before You Know It. If you apply some of what you learn, before you know it you’ll take more control of your life.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. His Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning course, Persuasive Selling, has been viewed by more than 50,000 people! His latest course, Persuasive Coaching, just went live. Have you watched them yet? If not, click on either course name to see what you’ve been missing.