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Your Mindset is a Choice. Choose Deliberately

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You probably don’t invest a great deal of time and attention toward your mindset. I want to

invite you to change that, even for the five minutes that reading this blog post will take. If

you intend to successfully meet the moment, to face the challenges in front of you with

greater resolve and grace, then the most choices emerge when you develop your ability to

shift your mindset. Yes, easier to say than to choose, yet not by much.

Adult life generates lots of responsibility and in turn, some privileges that result from

fulfilling that responsibility and achieving outcomes. Whether you are looking at your

personal or your professional life, becoming competent within the context you inhabit often

produces rewards that shadow seeing the entire spectrum of possible choices. Your

neurobiology reinforces this in two ways. First, your brain prefers habits. While you can

receive 20 million bits of information per second, you can only consciously accept about 14

bits per second. Your brain develops filters to more easily recognize the information that

reinforces what is successful. Your habits form from this process because the brain uses

habits to conserve energy. Second, that very process produces filters in every domain of

your life. As a result, your brain reinforces what is familiar, comfortable, and part of the

status quo in your life. You could say, your muscle for exploring something unfamiliar, no

matter how exciting it might be, atrophies. Your success places blinders on your eyes,

causing you to only see the proven success formula. You lean into those habits and

preferences, and then, miss both the changing environment and trusting your own capacity

to innovate. Let’s explore an example. The hospitality industry experienced a tremendous

disruption as a result of the pandemic. Restaurant owners who created beautiful and

delicious experiences for diners based upon a highly refined set of daily habits and

preferences could not do so in the midst of the pandemic. Some chose to stop creating

experiences. Others owners chose to adapt, tapping into ingenuity and belief in their ability

to shift their mindset about what experiences customers could embrace. Those owners not

only survived, but many also invented entirely new business models and ways to deliver an equally if not more compelling experience for their customers.

One of the missing elements in this story arises from what you pay attention to most. You

like most learned early on about setting goals by getting very clear about the end result

desired, the destination called success. You pursued becoming competent by building on

your unique nature by nurturing opportunities to strengthen skills, apply intelligence and

be an expert. The paradox shows up in the reduction of curiosity in equal measure to the

increase in expertise that results in narrowing the mindset about available and possible

choices. All of this occurs for you based upon faulty information from your history,

crowding our present moment awareness of what has changed and is changing, very

quickly. As a result, expertise becomes epically out of date very quickly and your actions are

a little (or a lot) off track.

In the book, Invite Change. Lessons from 2020 The Year of No Return, I wrote that when

you adopt the belief that your most basic abilities may be developed through dedication and

hard work, that creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great

accomplishment. In hindsight, I wish I had replaced the word resilience with the word

reserves. Too many people are shamed for not being resilient in the face of the continued

pandemic and the ripple effect this has produced in every domain of life, causing great

suffering for many and a steady state of low-grade trauma for everyone. It is completely

understandable to not feel resilient right now. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a

responsibility to build your reserve of energy. That means giving attention in equal measure

to building your emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being as you do your

professional work, whatever that may be from parenting to leading a team for an

organization. If you and I have learned anything this past year, it is that you must attend to

your self-care in order to attend to have reserves. Only from that attention are you able,

when faced with a moment of crisis to not collapse into it, because you have no or little


You likely have read some or a lot about Professor Carol Dweck’s work describing a growth

mindset and a fixed mindset. There are many more mindsets, in fact, yours is unique to you

as well as your way of shifting your mindset. That said, her very important work revealed

that you can learn through a dedication to a love of learning. In fact, pursuing the love of

learning through curiosity and experimentation generates more responsiveness to

situations as well as spontaneity, while holding on to your strengths without getting trapped

in your habits and preferences. Your mindset shift toward the view out of the front

windshield of your vehicle gives you access to many new kinds of avenues. That shift

motivates new choices, enhances relationships, and increases determination, meaning your

ability to persevere even when you are knocked off your game. That breakdown is

temporary because you’ve built reserves to tap into that prevent you from defaulting into

protection and status quo.

The velocity of change ahead of you is not slowing down. Shifting your mindset toward self-

learning starts with awareness of what is happening and the possibilities that seeing and

experiencing beyond your habits provides. As a leader, this shift in mindset has ever greater

urgency because you are a role model. You are always generating a ripple effect through

your emotions, presence, attitude, thinking, and beliefs. Choose those deliberately.

In closing, here are two questions for self-reflection to set you on the path to invite change

and choose a shift in mindset that empowers your future.

Reflection questions:

- What is the shift in your mindset that helps you through and navigate beyond the many present challenges?

- What could you choose to be responsible for as a narrative helps your business and your people flourish?

Janet M. Harvey, MCC

Experienced with individuals at the Board of Directors, “C” Chair, Executive and Senior Management levels, Janet assists executives in adopting effective habits of perception and behavior to lead and accelerate corporate strategies. Typical engagements address executive development in the following areas: articulate and inspire through clarity of vision, enable respectful challenge, debate and catalyze synergy for strategic business choices, risk/reward critical thinking about investments and shareholder value, plan leader succession and architect sustainable cultural/strategic change.
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