I had a marvelous conversation with a friend recently about some topics, including perspective, mindset, mentality, and focus. We covered a lot of ground, and it got me to thinking even more about my choices and whether they could stand the test of scrutiny. I believe each of us can occasionally lapse into a false sense of security about our mentality and the choices that result, leaving us acting in ways that don’t measure up well against our values.
Scarcity or Abundance? The first time I thought about my mentality consciously was when I got my hands on Stephen Covey’s masterpiece “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.” When he discussed the differences between a scarcity mentality, with its short term, “there is only one pie in the world, and if I don’t get a big slice, I’m ruined” perspective, and the abundance mentality, my mind expanded instantly. I remember thinking “Aha!” this is one of the things I’ve been trying to figure out, and then Covey teed it up for me, enabling me to choose abundance as my path forward. Abundance is about long term change and positive growth. Abundance is also about being generous with others, knowing that it benefits YOU first, and again later, and again later still. When I started my business, I had to battle daily against the scarcity mindset and work hard to avoid taking a shotgun approach to building my customer roster.
Rental or Ownership? I remember one of my favorite radio talk show hosts talking about driving a rental car like he “didn’t have a dime in it…” At the time, I had a client who was troubled about his employee’s mentality, which was the opposite of the ownership mindset he was hoping to foster. It was then I realized that an Ownership Mentality leads to long term investment, the expectation of return on investment, and demonstrates pride of ownership, keeping things in order, etc. It had taken me time to find a label for the alternative mindset of short term payments, do NOT invest in a long term gain, and don’t put forth any effort to keep the machinery running. Too many people in business are renting their opportunity, and not owning it.
Fixed or Growth? Carole Dweck’s groundbreaking work on learning and education led to the formation of her definitions of the Fixed and Growth Mindsets and how they determine whether people will learn or stagnate. I am working to develop a growth mindset, and I work hard to embrace challenges, persist when things get tough, see mistakes as a necessary investment in long-term learning, and try to be happy for the success of others. I feel embarrassed of myself when I see signs that I am still hosting some vestiges of a fixed mentality, like when I am resistant to constructive criticism or feel threatened by someone else’s accomplishments.
Victim or Actor? I have met an awful lot of good people who are stuck in a victim mentality, where they tell themselves and others that their life has spiraled out of their control and that there is nothing that can be done about it. I’ve laid down my victim card a time or two myself, so please, don’t condemn me for calling out the foolishness of this approach. I have learned that it is nihilistic, and there is no real lasting benefit to the approach. I have learned that blaming others and claiming innocence is foolhardy. We truly cannot control the events of our lives with any certainty, but we surely can control our responses to events. I focus my attention there and urge others to do likewise. If I choose to fight back, at least I am not resigning myself to the role of hapless victim.
I believe that the truth is that we all have elements of many mentalities in us and that some of those elements are good, positive and helpful, and on the other hand, some elements are not good at all. To my way of thinking, the trick is to recognize that each of us is a work in progress, and while we may not be a finished work, we must choose to strive to become closer to the finished work we seek to become. That is a worthy endeavor, and one that I have every intention of continuing to work at, in hopes that one day, I might get it right. For now, I’m trying to be an Actor in my own life, pursuing a life of growth and abundance by trying to own my actions and the outcomes they lead to.
What about you? What is your mentality? Which path or paths are you choosing? Are you congruent with your values? Check in with us and add your comments to this conversation, and we’ll send you a lovely MBCC Coffee Mug, guaranteed to keep your favorite hot beverage toasty warm during the next rainy night, or winter snowstorm.
Michael is a trusted business advisor and executive development coach to owners of businesses, their executive and management teams and emerging leaders located all across the globe. If you’d like more information about Michael’s Coaching & Consulting practice, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.