Mindset is king. Oh, have you heard me say that before? Let me say it just one more time, just in case you didn’t catch it. Mindset is king. Or queen if you prefer. But be assured that mindset is even more important than strategy, your marketing plan, having the best business plan or the most skilled people.
So here’s a quick guide – 9 steps – to developing a great mindset.
1. There is nobody 'youer than you'
It’s time to stop the comparisons. Where you are at this very moment is all that matters, not where you’ve been, not where anyone else is or where you think they’re heading. Stay focused on you – and look at your situation as it is, not worse than it is. And then envisage it better than it is. These are your needs, your dreams. They’re the only ones that matter.
Remember when we look at things like Facebook, we are comparing our inside with other people's outside … it’s not the real picture, only what that person wants to present. It’s a manufactured and manipulated version of their real life. If Facebook were to be believed, we’d all be living the good life. All the time. Recognise the fiction.
Your USP? You.
2. Even problems are a gift
Fear cannot exist alongside gratitude. Be grateful for everything you have, including the ‘problems’. Without them, you would not grow. Every setback is an advantage in some way. You just can’t see it until afterwards. But know that every experience is making you the person you need to be for the next part of the journey. Be grateful for the good, the ‘bad’ and what can sometimes seem downright ugly. It’s all happening for you, not to you.
3. Be the mother duck
Nothing that we do – or anyone else does – is perfect. Accept that you’re human. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do your very best. But it does mean that doing something – anything – is better than not trying at all. Playing safe for fear of not being perfect is not living. Perfect really doesn’t exist – it’s an illusion. Get rid of that roadblock once and for all. Get something done, anything, and then continue to improve on it. Don’t wait for it to be perfect first.
"Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it" - Salvador Dali
In nature, the mother duck doesn’t wait for her ducklings to line up in perfect order before moving. She simply starts moving and all her ducklings tuck in behind her. So don’t wait for things to be 'perfect' ... for all your ducks to line up. Get moving – things will take shape once you move.
4. Stop deleting the good stuff
You create your reality through filtering your experiences. You delete some of it, distort what’s left and then generalise the remainder. If you think you can’t do something, you’ll search exclusively for experiences to prove you can’t, and in the process delete the experiences that prove you can.
So as a start point, how about looking for evidence where you have succeeded in the past instead? If you think you can, you can. Just as your brain sought memories of experiences to prove you can’t do it, it’ll search for experiences to prove you can. It saves a lot of time.
A strategy is like a recipe that produces a consistent result – look at what strategies you’ve used in the past that have worked.
Start with “I think I can do this”, rather than “I don’t think I can”. Or better still “I know I can do this”. Look for evidence you can. It’ll be there. You just have to look for it.
5. There’s no failure only feedback
We use fear as an excuse to keep us playing small. To keep us ‘safe’. It holds us back. But magic happens outside our comfort zone.
"If you’re not failing every now and again it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative" - Woody Allen
There is no failure. Only feedback. As Thomas Edison said “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Each step takes you closer to your dreams. Maybe you didn’t get the result you expected in the timeframe you expected. It doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. Everything is an opportunity to learn. The only sure way to fail is to give up.
6. Dogs bark at unfamiliar things
Like dogs who bark when they experience something unfamiliar (a strange noise or somebody dressed as a clown) people also ‘bark’ when they don’t understand things. They may make negative comments. “That’ll never work!”. “Are you mad?”. Subconsciously they may be trying to make themselves feel better. Give themselves certainty. They may be worried about losing a love/connection if you change. Feeling less significant if you become successful. They may think negatively about their situation if they are comparing it to yours.
Regardless, you are not responsible for their reactions. You will never please everyone. Most people are not even thinking about you and your actions. So why hand over power to them and let their potential reactions influence your actual actions? Just acknowledge that it’s unfamiliar for them and they will come round in time. Or they won’t. Their loss.
7. Swap your fixed mindset voice for a growth mindset
A fixed mindset* leads to a desire to look smart and a tendency to see criticism as a personal attack. Something to be avoided. It prefers the comfort zone.
A growth mindset is driven to learn and practice. It takes criticism as valuable feedback. It has a passion for sticking with it. Persevering. Pushing through. It loves uncertainty.
Your fixed or growth mindset comes replete with a mini-me voice. One that is trying to keep you safe. Recognise that. Thank it for its contribution. If it’s undermining you, talk back to your mini-me voice with positive responses. “I may not be able to do it right now, but I can learn to with time and effort”. And then do what you know you need to do. You have a choice. How you interpret challenges, setbacks, and criticism is up to you. You choose your response too.
8. Mind your language
Your language is so important. If you label something a ‘disaster’, your Cortisol levels will rise to meet the threat. Call it a ‘wee challenge’ (best said in a Scottish accent) and you’ll feel less stressed. Take care of how you language your experience to yourself and those around you.
Getting a great metaphor for your life is also fun and effective. I characterise my relationship as a 'full-on 3d technicolour romcom/action/adventure with surround sound – just no body doubles or stuntmen'. Hey it works for me.
Is your life an 'epic adventure'? Are you the ‘director of your life movie’? Or is life ‘hard’ or ‘unfair’?
9. The chapter they left out of The Secret
I’m sure you have all heard of the book (and movie of the same name) ‘The Secret’. It's about the Law of Attraction. What was left out of the book that went to print was the final chapter, because it wasn’t sexy enough to sell. It was the chapter that says you can’t just want something and it will appear. You have to take action too. Consistent action towards the attainment of your goal. Consistent action to monitor your mindset. Action to change your mindset from fixed to growth. Steps every day towards what you want, regardless of setbacks, feedback from friends or other obstacles. Hoping and wishing isn’t enough.
So what does that all boil down to?
- stop comparing yourself to others, you're comparing your inside to their outside
- practice gratitude
- stop trying to be perfect, just take action
- look for evidence that you can, rather than evidence that you can't
- there's only feedback, not failure
- don't worry about other's opinions - it's yours that counts
- adopt a growth mindset
- be careful how you language your experience to yourself and others
- take action
So there you have it - 9 steps to developing a great mindset. Questions? Let us have them!
* Read more about the fixed and growth mindset by grabbing a copy of Carol Dweck's bestselling book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.