The Conscious Mind as Trainer

It might be that our subconscious mind ears often in our urban and large-scale world. It might be that reason and traditional intelligence are the most useful devices to navigate this world.

I’m reading ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ from Kahneman at the moment and what I’ve read so far seems to have a bias towards our higher mind of reason. Specifically, various instances are discussed in which what humans intuitively feel is the correct answer is logically and/or mathematically false.

However I think it is better to think of our subconscious, automatic mind as a prodigy. Somebody with great potentials but also great flaws. It is our job to be the guide of this prodigy. Thereby not understanding our conscious, reasoning mind as being more trustworthy or superior to our subconscious mind, but understanding it as a facilitator, a manager. The conscious mi d is not the rock band, which amazes millions, it’s the boring guy in the background, which assures that the catering is cared for.

Because our conscious mind is weak – it might give us the illusion that our reasoning mind is us – that we could be the voice talking in our had and deliberately going through the steps of calculating 34 * 15 – but this voice is not who we actually are, it’s a small, insignificant part of what constitutes us; our intuition, the thoughts and processes we are not aware of are much more us – importantly they set the boundaries of what our conscious mind can accomplish.

The conscious mind however can also work as a coach. It can observe the team, send it through drills and training sessions, set the strategy; however, when the real action happens, the conscious mind, just like a coach, stands on the side lines with very little influence.


A good or a bad trainer can make a crap team into a sterling one. But only a trainer, who accepts his team, and accepts his role in the periphery of the game can accomplish such.

Such I believe the conscious mind should progress, with humility, patience, love and determination.

The Dangers of the OK Plateau and How to Overcome Them

I found the following wonderful quote in Daniel Goleman’s Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence via Brain Pickings:

Amateurs are content at some point to let their efforts become bottom-up operations. After about fifty hours of training — whether in skiing or driving — people get to that “good-enough” performance level, where they can go through the motions more or less effortlessly. They no longer feel the need for concentrated practice, but are content to coast on what they’ve learned. No matter how much more they practice in this bottom-up mode, their improvement will be negligible.

The experts, in contrast, keep paying attention top-down, intentionally counteracting the brain’s urge to automatize routines. They concentrate actively on those moves they have yet to perfect, on correcting what’s not working in their game, and on refining their mental models of how to play the game, or focusing on the particulars of feedback from a seasoned coach. Those at the top never stop learning: if at any point they start coasting and stop such smart practice, too much of their game becomes bottom-up and their skills plateau.

While this excerpt is centred on sports, it of course applies to many areas in which we might want to develop expertise.

I read another book some time ago, The Little Book of Talent by Daniel Coyle, in which there were some similar ideas. However, in The Little Book of Talent it was added that there are two types of skills: hard skills and soft skills. The former being skills that can easily be advanced through deliberate practice, such as hitting a perfect forehand in tennis, and the latter being skills which are more difficult to practice deliberately, such as developing a strategy to win a tennis match. I think this is a distinction worthy of consideration in the context of the above quote.