Under Siege: Protecting Your Mindset For a Better You
If you came upon this piece expecting an in-depth reflection of Steven Segal’s cinematic masterpiece from the 1990’s, I am sorry to disappoint. This is not that. This piece serves as a warning to those at any point in their career, likely more relevant to those earlier in their careers, but also a helpful reminder to those that may have lost their way. In today’s culture of twitter rants, internet trolls and crazy ‘news of the day’ our minds are constantly under a siege – a siege of unhelpful triggers that will halt your personal development and stagnate your career aspirations.
My professional journey has been an interesting one to say the least. I have been fortunate to work for companies large and small where I have been lucky enough to find wisdom in many forms. One of the most important concepts I’ve been introduced to is ‘mindset’. For a baseline definition, mindset is a set of assumptions, methods or notations held by one or more people or groups of people.
In this case, I’m talking about your personal mindset about who you are (or want to be), how you go about your day, and the impact your mindset has on your personal and professional growth. There has never been a more important time in our culture to be equipped with the proper tools and techniques to protect your mindset from the noise of the world. These tools serve as a sort of public service announcement for the ‘me’ of my earlier career. I am grateful for the leaders that I have come across that were willing to ‘meet me where I am at’ and allow me to the time to see the teacher when the pupil was ready. Below are a few tactics that I have brought into my own personal toolbox from those far more evolved than myself, to keep a healthy mindset and continue on a path of constant and never-ending improvement.
You have probably heard that your compensation is the sum average of the five people with which you most frequently associate with. The same goes for mindset. At one point or another you have likely found yourself in a group setting complaining about the woes of your life. Maybe it’s at work, or maybe it’s with your friends in a social setting. Your parents were right when they told you not to hang around those other kids because you would turn out like them. There is no question that there are some toxic people that you need to cut out from your life in one way or another – sometimes that is an option, other times it’s not so easily done.
I have excellent news! No matter how limiting your current environment may be, there are ways to associate with people that will elevate you to your next level.
READING BOOKS: If you are like my former self, you may not have picked up a book since you were required to read The Hobbit in 7th grade. The importance of reading was impressed upon me by leaders from a previous endeavor. The idea is that someone has probably already done what you want to do – even if you are on the precipice of a brand-new business or technology. Find an author or leader that you can spend time digesting their books or book recommendations and add reading to your daily routine. One place to find an incredible reading list is in Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans. I have a feeling Tim is going to come up again later…
Another way to increase your access to an elite source of associations is through podcasts. I personally like ‘The Tim Ferriss Show’ (that was quick). Not every episode will be wildly relevant to your interests or career path, but Tim is a master of finding commonalities among leaders across all walks of life. If you commute to work make your car a rolling university. Set aside time on a daily or weekly basis to digest the words of those at the level you want to achieve and TAKE NOTES. I’m not sure how I stumbled upon this podcast but one of the greatest benefits from this podcast is the morning routine. If you start your day on the right foot you will be ever more resilient to the noise of the outside world. Your mental state will be much less vulnerable to a mental hijacking.
FIND A MENTOR: Mentors can be found in the most unlikely places. They can be specific to what you want to accomplish. If you want to add fitness to your life ask the person in the office that constantly talks about fitness to give you some pointers. If you want to find out how to use technology tools to market yourself or your business be diligent in seeking them out. And in the simplest way, find someone to look up to. I once heard about an actor that was asked who he looks up to or who he looks to for inspiration and he simply responded with, “The person I look up to is who I will be tomorrow.” The power in that statement is that if you truly admire the vision you are creating for yourself, you will do everything you can TODAY in order to get there. Think back, have you grown a lot or little over the past few years? It’s likely that when you think back you probably say to yourself, “I’m so glad I’m not that person anymore.” Be honest with yourself and do some serious reflection.
Your mind does EXACTLY what you tell it to do. If you don’t believe me read a book by Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D. called ‘What to Say When You Talk to Yourself’. We have come from a world where people tell you what you cannot do. Parents, teachers, bosses and friends will be the first to tell you the things you are not capable of doing. It’s not that they do not believe in you, it’s that they do not want to see you fail. Failure is a stepping stone. Be intentional about who you WILL become. Put it on paper and read it back to yourself. I’m not talking about positive affirmations. I’m talking about what you want your future self to become. Act ‘as if’. Tell your subconscious mind that you are already that person and that is who you will become. Helmstetter says, ‘The information that we program into our subconscious will shape your beliefs. Beliefs create attitudes. Attitudes create feelings. Feelings determine actions. Actions create results.’ If you have ever been told you have a ‘bad attitude’ you can be sure that there is not only some truth to that but that your programming simply needs to be tweaked. You are what you think you are. Make your self-talk work for you-not against you!
Journaling is not something that comes naturally to me. Historically, I had never thought that if I had a bad day that I should go sit in my room and scribble notes to my diary. Journaling can simply be a brain-dump. In the way of protecting your mindset, journaling can act as a slate cleaning mechanism. In order to provide an optimal mental state, you need to declutter. Do not make this more difficult than it has to be. To get started, truly treat this exercise as a vehicle to empty your thoughts and obligations onto paper. Once the slate is clean you will feel a state of relief. You will feel reenergized and your capacity to take on the challenges of this complex world we have created will seem much less daunting. If you are brave enough to look back on the scrolls of past brain dumps they can also serve as a powerful tool in self-reflection.
Be cognizant of those you most frequently associate. Have the mental state of the sum average of amazing people – they are everywhere. Program your mind to be the mind of your future self, your ideal mentor that may or may not already exist. Take even the smallest step toward that today. De-clutter your mind through journaling and just watch your programming take hold. At all costs, protect your mindset- you are the most accessible teacher and mentor that you have. Make no concessions.