A form of intelligence is pattern recognition… the ability to detect, identify accurately, and then make decisions based upon the patterns in our lives.
The more we can develop this skill, the more accurately we are going to navigate the terrain of our lives. The less able we are to recognise patterns, the more we react to what happens, the less predictive we become, the less we learn, the more we experience unnecessary frustration, pain, and setbacks.
For example, if, in your relationships, you keep finding yourself arguing about the same thing over and over with different people, this may indicate a pattern in how you think and communicate in terms of your relationships. To detect this pattern is to empower you to think about what it is about you that is generating this argument. To identify accurately your role in the arguments is to be able to do something about it. To make a new decision is to potentially alter the quality of your relationships.
Generalising as a Form of Intelligence
Our ability to generalise is a form of intelligence worth cultivating. To see how one thing could lead to other things, mean other things, expand to touch other things, save tremendous time when it comes to making decisions. The more we can do this, the faster we can think, the faster we can make accurate decisions, and the freer space there is in our thinking for… thinking.
Following from pattern recognition and generalising, we arrive at consequentialism, which is being a student of what could, potentially, occur, should we make this decision. Avoiding the decision is making a decision and the same consequential thinking applies.
If someone is building a business, and can learn that decisions made based on feelings rather than the reality of the situation, cost them in terms of profits and progress, they are informed to make a new choice moving forward. Of course, anyone is free to make decisions based on feelings, independent of facts. That is our own agency and we are free to choose. The key to this is for anyone interested in improving their results. Feelings are not facts.
No matter how much we think it is hard to cold call, and we don’t feel like it, until the web site is built and leads are being generated, the fact is the bank account needs topping up. Consequentialist thinking, which combined pattern recognition with generalising, tells us that the consequence of avoiding doing what needs to be done will end the business venture before it gets started.
No matter how much we don’t feel like taking care of the cashflow through cold calling, consequential thinking tells us that unless we do this, or its equivalence to generate cash, we go broke. It tells us that our dreams will die before we got started.
The more sophisticated we get at pattern recognition and generalising, the better students we become of consequentialism, and thus better able to navigate to the terrain of our lives that we want and prefer.
When looking at the consequences, we must move to being overly optimistic, and overly pessimistic.
What is the best thing that can happen?
How can I prepare for that?
How can I help this project/experience move towards that outcome?
What’s the worse that could happen?
How can I mitigate against that happening?
What steps can I put in place now to ensure that doesn’t happen?
If that does happen, what will I do?
We may do this for ten or more potential consequences, and then plan based on these logic paths, rather than saying, ‘What will be, will be’. Fatalism gives up any agency. Consequentialism says we can study the impact of this action.
Consequentialism in its purest form holds that the consequences of our conduct is the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of the conduct. “A morally right act (or omission from acting) is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequentialism)
So we can even, with consequentialism as our guide, decide what is the morally best thing to do (or not do), in any situation.
For me, its power lies in my willingness to look at what could go wrong.
I am a ‘defensive pessimist’ who is committed to predicting the bad stuff that could happen, mitigating that foreseen risk, building in contingency plans, planning for what to do when things do go to shit, and by doing all of this well, most of the bad shit not happening.