‘The mind is everything. What you think you become.’—Gautama Buddha
Mindset can sometimes be underestimated. A snow skier embarking on a snowboarding lesson realises that the end goal is the same: both ways will get them down the slope. You can use transferable skills and be ready to attempt something new but at the same time, you have to clear your mind and be open to new ways of thinking when applying this to a new skill. I know this firsthand. I struggled when I attempted to convert from skiing to snowboarding and in no time went back to skiing, as this was my preferred default of getting down the powdery slopes at Hotham. Maybe I gave up due to lack of time to practise a new skill, but it awakened a realisation in me that we can become so hard-wired in doing something one way we forget to question what we do and fail to look at new ways.
A strong mindset has kept me going when my sister became ill. I adopted a stronger and more empowering mindset to deal with the situation. I wanted to be the best I could be for her. In turn, her mindset has always been fiercely strong, so mirroring this has served us both well.
Your mindset is like a muscle; it can be trained, strengthened and built to what you want it to be.
The key is to question how you do things. This shakes up your day-to-day thinking and has an impact on your actions. With a clear purpose and solid belief in yourself and others, you can develop and nurture a leadership mindset or mind-shift. Nothing should be set, a shift is fluid and open to change and further development. Effective leaders don’t look at things in the same way during their career. What goes on in their head has to change and evolve—much like our beliefs. One mindset won’t fuel and serve you forever. Like a tradesman’s tool that needs to be serviced and updated in order to perform its specific job. Be open and ready to explore your current mindset around your leadership vision and intent.
Be prepared to update what isn’t working. Let in new thoughts, ideas and exercises to build your mindset muscle.
A bubble or bursting mindset?
‘The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.’―Albert Einstein
In life, not just on a professional front, it is imperative to master a strong and disciplined mindset. It can be developed and nurtured over time and will give you the ability and agility to own your thoughts. Your thoughts and way of thinking determine how you feel and enforce the action you do or don’t take.
In a leadership role, if you are focusing and building your thoughts on catching your team out, then I can guarantee you will. The mind is an amazing machine and will actually sort and perceive the world to tune in on what you are focusing on. Alternatively, if you believe, as I do, in building a strength-based team, you will identify strengths in all team members and leverage this for the good.
Mindsets are beliefs about you—your talents, intellect, skills. Mindsets reflect who you are. After many years of working with individuals on building and reframing their mindsets, I believe we can adopt one of two defining mindsets.
A Bubble Mindset is simply where you apply the belief that what you have and who you are is set in stone and can’t be changed. You are born this way and that’s the end of the story. You see yourself, your skills and your potential encapsulated within a bubble. Put simply, you believe they cannot be developed. Individuals living with the bubble mindset give up easily and avoid anything that challenges them. They believe that trying new things is a waste of time. They are not open to feedback, self-growth and development. People living with a bubble mindset feel threatened by the success of others and as a leader may not provide feedback or development to others as they don’t believe in it themselves. Overall, this mindset keeps them frozen in time.
We all come across people with this mindset and if, like me, being the polar opposite, you can find it frustrating and toxic. Individuals with this mindset are easy to recognise. In your team, they may be that person who is not coachable, teachable or interested in growing.
A bubble mindset can stem from a fear of something new, aversion to change, rejection, or that their surroundings—role models, culture of their organisation—have wired them that way. I’m often asked if people with a bubble mindset can change. I think they can, depending on the context, their surroundings and their want and appetite for change.
Then there is the bursting mindset. When you adopt this mindset, the sky is the limit. This is where you believe intellect can be increased and developed. You take feedback on board and apply it to better yourself. Chances are you like delivering feedback because you believe in it. You believe in the effort to grow yourself and make a continued effort to do this. It is vital that successful leaders have a bursting mindset. Only then can you instil belief in your team and its abilities, and your overall connection with your team and team’s results.
With this mindset, you enjoy seeing others succeed. Others may even find you inspiring. I definitely have this type of mindset with growth listed in the top five things I value in my life and work. I naturally gravitate towards people with a bursting mindset who like to learn, unlearn, learn again, evolve, and change. Fostering this mindset ensures you are ready for change—like a dam, your floodgates are open to new tides and ways of doing things.
It makes sense to nurture and develop a growth mindset. A bursting mindset can foster motivation and productivity, especially in a leadership role. It also contributes to one of the most important aspects of leadership, which is developing and enhancing relationships.
What mindset are you currently adopting and how is this cascading down to your team and those around you?