Today, we are going to talk about mindsets. Another way of thinking about this is your perspective, the way you see things. We are in a mindset all the time about everything.
Think about your current mindset when I say the word politics . . . or money . . . or religion. The way you see it, is just that – a mindset – one way of looking at a really complicated one-word topic. What happens a lot for most of us, is that we are in this mindset and are not even aware that it IS a mindset – we oftentimes think that our own way of seeing things is “the truth”! The truth is, it’s not.
This is one of those things that once you start to think about this – it feels a little bit like Alice and Wonderlands’ rabbit hole!! It is huge. You begin to realize that everything is driven by a mindset.
So a number of years ago, I found myself taking my own advice for a change. I was freelancing at an organization and was working for a woman who was . . . difficult. I hadn’t quite figured her out but she seemed to be the kind of woman who is not satisfied with anyone or anything, a perfectionist, of sorts. And, she also seemed to think that she could talk rudely to people and that they wouldn’t stop her because she was “the boss.” We had a “moment” where I had to tell her to readjust her tone because it wasn’t working for me. She turned very red and did changed her tone. Anyway, working with her was a challenge beyond what I wanted or expected during this gig. I was going to work every day and hating it. Really hating it. And I found myself complaining about her and the organization as a whole. I was miserable.
Then, I realized that I could hold a different mindset. I decided that I love being the cheerful, glass-half-full person that I actually am. I love being enthusiastic about every little thing in life: the clothes that I wear, my latest knitting project, the book I am reading, what work I am doing etc. etc. !! So, I chose to be cheerful and, you know what? It worked!! I was cheerful. I even had to muscle my way into a meeting that I should have been in – but was uninvited to – and I just didn’t let it get to me. I met some other wonderful, young planners, I got a potential new coaching client, and it was a great day. Now, don’t misunderstand me, she was just as miserable and nothing was good enough for her, but strangely I was so centered in my mindset that it didn’t bother me. Just because she chose to look at the world from her perspective did not mean that I had to respond or share that perspective. I could and did stand in my own mindset.
“You can change absolutely anything about your life when you first change the way you see it.” – Wayne Dyer
So, what is a mindset?
Just like a photographer chooses a lens through which to capture reality in different ways, we each have filters through which we see the world. These filters might be past experience, race, culture, age, economic status, beliefs, fears, hopes, and more. Our mindsets shape the way we think, make decisions, and act.
We can change our mindset in an instant. Just as our mindset shifts dramatically in the face of a big change such as when someone close to us dies, when we fall in love, or travel to another country, we can change our mindset in any situation, including what it’s like to work with other people. Often we believe our mindset is “The Trut”h – not just the way we are seeing a situation or a person. This is where we need to get curious about how we are seeing something or someone. For example, perhaps you have the belief that a specific person is difficult to work with (like I just shared). Is that the absolute truth? Or did you hear that from others? Or was that person going through something difficult the last time you worked with them?
This is the time to experiment with trying out different mindsets – like “When I’m able to find common ground I can easily work with anyone,” or “He is very passionate about the work he does and I appreciate that passion,” or “I’m curious about him and how to work best with him.”
Understanding the beliefs and mindsets that shape the way we relate to others and make our decisions is key to building a collaborative organization. We spend countless hours learning new information, adopting the latest technologies and implementing strategies to improve processes. Yet, underneath it all there may be beliefs that can undermine true collaboration and collective success.
It is a transformative practice to be able to identify the mindset you are in and consciously choose the mindset you want to hold.
So, the next time you find yourself stuck – try it and see what choosing to be in a mindset might yield. Explore 4 or 5 different mindsets before you choose one. Give yourself permission to try on a few different mindsets – stretch yourself, have fun with it. My guess is that when you choose, you will chose something that honors yourself rather than steps all over the values you aspire to. So choose away and live your life not someone else’s.
Thanks for joining us for this week’s 5-minute Epiphanies to Mine the Mess for Success – Tips, snippets and Stories. For more information check us out at stepupleadership.com. Join us next time when we’ll be talking about . . . humanity in the workplace!