Have you heard the one about the chap who had a mind like concrete? – Thoroughly mixed up and set rock hard.
Well mindset is something I work hard on for myself and also with my clients.
You can see how mindset affects everything we do, if you are aware of it and become conscious of the signs.
For example; I was at a meeting a few weeks ago where some local business people get together to discuss various issues.
The topic of marketing came up and the revealing thing was the boundaries people had set up in their own mind about what they were and were not prepared to do. As an observer of these things it was clear to me that these boundaries represented their mindset.
We are actually very sensitive to people’s mindset, we call it character or personality and we tend to assume “Oh that’s just what they’re like”.
But is that true?
How would you feel if someone said to you “Oh that’s just like you.”?
My guess is that if it was a character trait which you admired you’d be pleased but if it was a character trait you aren’t keen on your reaction would be less favourable.
So here’s my question:
Is it just like you?
Are your responses to the world so set that you are recognised by the way you react?
That’s certainly been true for me and I was oblivious to it.
It struck home hard one day when I was out with my daughter, we were having a bit of lunch together. It was coming to the end of the school year and her work was due to exhibited, along with all the other art students at the college.
The problem was I’d separated from my wife some time before and she had now found someone new and the discussion with my daughter was about when I would come to see her work because the ex and her new man were also going.
The words that made me jump to attention were “I don’t want any trouble about this”.
My initial reaction was anger; although I think I masked it quite well. How dare my teenage daughter tell me she didn’t want any trouble! (By the way she didn’t mean physical trouble, she was talking about arguments and the verbals.)
I reassured her that there would be no trouble; even in the moment of my anger I recognised that this was her day and not to be hijacked because of any of my issues about her mum’s choices.
What really hit me when I got home, having dropped my daughter back at school, she was right. I had reacted in anger at her suggestion that she didn’t want trouble. She knew my mindset and could read me like a book.
I wondered about how many of our conversations had been influenced by the way she thought of me. Had she consciously steered away from some subjects because she knew I would react in a certain way? I thought of my son, was it the same with him? And inevitably about my ex; had she steered away from talking with me about some things because she knew my mindset?
That afternoon was to change the way I wanted the world to see me and respond to me and in the instant of that conversation with my daughter I knew it had to come from me changing my mindset.
I always remember my dad saying that he couldn’t change, he was just the way he was. Now, whilst he was a very generous man he was also very difficult and emotionally challenging. The conversation about him changing came up one day after he had really upset my mum. He either couldn’t or wouldn’t apologise leaving mum really upset; more upset than I can ever remember seeing before. And there was my dad saying he couldn’t change. What he meant as that he wasn’t prepared to change and the rest of us had to put up with it or ship out.
I know that sounds harsh but that was the unsaid meaning of what he said and of course he knew my mum wasn’t about to do that and I couldn’t, short of running away from home.
We display our mindset all the time in the way we answer people and respond to their questions, suggestions, ideas and moods.
Do you know what your mindset is saying about you and how it’s affecting the way the people in your life approach you?
One of Henry Ford’s great quote sums this up nicely:
If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.
You can’t continue to see the world in a fixed way when you truly put yourself in someone else’s shoes.