As you might imagine, I’ve been obsessed with Tesla’s new autopilot feature. Who knew we’d have such technology in our lifetime? Well, clearly Elon Musk did!
Within hours of the update, YouTube was littered with videos of people showing off their new hands-free driving. As you watch them you can see the steering wheel moving back and forth, responding and adjusting to the curve of the road.
watch the video, you can see where RockTreeStar fails to respond to the system when it alerts him to retake control of the wheel. He finally grabs the wheel just in time to prevent the car from swerving into oncoming traffic.
Just like Tesla’s autopilot, life offers us the opportunity to set the destination of what we want for our lives, and then choose how much to control or relax on exactly how we reach our goals. In fact, each of us comes with our own built-in autopilot system: an often underutilized function of our subconscious mind that Maxwell Maltz dubbed the Automatic Success Mechanism.
In the 1960’s, Maltz popularized the idea that, by visualizing every aspect of your goal and seeing yourself achieving it, you could put this “highly complex automatic goal-seeking machine” to work. You may have heard me speak of this in terms of “virtualizing”, as recent research has revealed including all of your senses in how you mentally experience reaching your goal to be more effective than simply seeing it in your mind’s eye.
Maltz’s research showed that the subconscious mind can steer its way to a target or goal by the use of feedback data and stored information, automatically correcting course when necessary. Some of the feedback — opportunities or obstacles appearing in our paths — are simple for our subconscious minds to process and adjust to while other, more subtle feedback — such as mistakes along the way, or interactions with toxic people — may need us as the driver to intervene.
Often as passengers of our Automatic Success Mechanisms, we find that the more we keep our hands on the wheel (attempt control how we reach our goals), the less effective we are. This is because there’s a flow to life that our bodies and subconscious minds are more in tune with then our conscious minds. Attempting to control too much constricts the flow that could bring new opportunities to us. All that’s needed from us is clear direction and no middle management. Consider those Tesla owners anxiously hovering over their steering wheels, unable to relax and let the system do its job. What’s the point of having autopilot if you never let it work for you?
On the other hand, sometimes there are early warning signs of dangers ahead that, if left unchecked, could really derail us. What’s the point of having a conscious mind if you’re always running on autopilot? There is a delicate balance we get to master around setting the course with our goals and letting the flow steer us, and stepping in to make adjustments when necessary. No matter how much trust we put in the flow of life, we’re still the driver and it’s still our responsibility to ensure we reach our goals. This means keeping our eye on the prize, focusing our energy towards reaching those ends, and being open to doors that lead to unexpected places. The trick is learning to do all of this and still let our subconscious mind do its work.
Think about a goal you’ve held for a while, but not really gained ground on. In what areas are you holding onto the wheel too tightly? In what other areas, are you zoning out, and ignoring early warning signs of derailment? What’s one thing you can do this week to either ease up on your control or steer your actions back on course?
“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals; adjust the action steps.” — Confucius