Leave Room for the Gray Box*

It is foolish to try to analyze everything. Few human minds are able to hold all relevant potentialities in four dimensions.

So you’ve got to leave room for the “gray box,” the part of your mind that can unconsciously process all this information and sometimes gently, sometimes loudly, proclaim the right course of action.

I am not discounting the value of thoughtful consideration. In fact, if anything, perhaps more value should be placed upon really getting in and doing an effective job in systems thinking, teasing out the chain of causality and probability to make a “reasoned decision.”

No doubt, the more experience one has, the more enlightened the Grey box is likely to be. That is why older people often have more wisdom. Yet wisdom is not solely the priviledge of our elders. Many times, the flexible, dynamic intelligence of youth, able to quickly intuit connections and place variable-weighted value on the relevant data, can see trends and possibilities that the elder mind might reject.

It is the work of the young to try to see beyond the near-term niftiness of a decision to second- and third-order effects (using the Grey Box), as it is the work of elders to use their Grey box to include more tenuous-yet-relevant data-points to grasp expansive potentialities.

In the end, this is not a recommendation to make “gut decisions.”  Rather, it is a suggestion that once the analysis is undertaken, more work must be done.  You must go to the grey box and allow its immense powers to work.  This may require quiet time and “emptying the mind” meditation, a complete disconnect from the topic (say, by engaging in an activity that completely captures the attention, like snowboarding, tennis, or a bike ride), or, if you have developed the ability, listening to your body when you entertain the possible decisions.

The quality of your performance depends on letting the power of your mind not be hindered by the size of your data set, nor your “future model.”

*NOTE:  In reverse-engineering electronics, when engineers could not discern the real operational activity of a function, they would label the unknown operation a “black box.”  This phrase would serve just as well for us; however, the phrase has been co-opted by the airline industry, since the flight data recorders have been eponymously termed “black boxes.”  Data recorders record all relevant data points, but they are backward-looking at what has happened.  The capability that I refer to is much broader and is able to export past experiences and data into envisioning future possibilities and probabilities.  Thus we call this integrative function a “grey box.”  This conveys the “grey matter” qualities of the brain, while also conveying that there is a place in Mind that is able to blend past, present, and future with immense (and somehow mysterious) power.

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