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Volume 6 Number 1   |   January 2016

What is a "Mindset"?

Let's agree for this discussion that a mindset is an established set of attitudes and beliefs held by an individual. Mindsets can, of course, differ from person to person—even among family members and close friends—and can (and should) change as people mature and experience new things.

I'm not talking about religious or spiritual values, but attitudes about our lives and work. Here are some mindset changes I've undergone as I've grown:

  • No matter how passionate someone is about a cause, it doesn't mean the cause is just or correct, just that the person is passionate.
  • The point of debate is to argue merits of positions, but not attack the other person's character or motives.
  • "Labels" don't help us understand people, but rather tend to explain away others without critical analysis. (What do you expect from someone that age? She must be a Republican. It's a millennial mentality.)
  • Mindsets are individual, they don't follow a "party line." It's not like designing a car where they tell you, "You can't order that option with the sports package."
  • Behaviors are often more important in the long run than "victories" in the short run.
  • Contemporary examples well stated carry as much weight with audiences as do claims of scientific research. Most people believe what they see, not what they read or hear.
  • There are very, very few conspiracies. (Volkswagen's emission cheating would be one of them.) To believe in conspiracies all around us hiding the truth is to be paranoid.
  • The "Golden Rule" might be restated from "Treat others the way you'd like to be treated" to "Treat others the way they'd like to be treated."

What's the point?

In examining your own mindset, think about what might need changing to think bigger and live larger. You may have the mindset of undue humility and mistaken modesty. You may feel that you need to help others before helping yourself. (If that were true, you'd pass out before helping too many others if you didn't don your oxygen mask when the emergency occurred.)

I've found people who advance in their lives and careers without advancing in their mindsets. Their attitudes are the same as they were when they were less successful, poorer, less confident. Consequently, even though they can afford to do so, they never pick up a check, and others notice this about them. They don't speak up at meetings even though they have better ideas, and others wonder why they're not sharing.

These aren't malicious gestures, but mindless ones. If you want to be more mindful, then think about your mindset and how it may have to evolve to match your growth.

© Alan Weiss 2016

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