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The vital role mindset plays in your achievements

Apr 03, 2023

Inspiration and aspiration

Last week I celebrated a milestone Birthday- I’ll leave you to work out how big a milestone… Anyway, I had the whole day worked out. As my husband was unable to get the day off work, and the kids were at school, I planned to meet up with my parents– they were the ones who after all had given me roots and wings, enabling me to make some pretty awesome choices in life so far, launched from a solid base.

A lovely day lay ahead. I’d just had breakfast with the fam with the room festooned with banners and balloons (Birthdays are big in our house), and I was looking forward to a leisurely morning before brunch and lunch meetups. That is until my husband beckoned me to take a look at what he thought was a leak running down the wall beside the washing machine. He'd heard a hissing sound located near to where some pipes are situated and followed that sound to find water collecting on the floor. He only had a few minutes as he had a meeting to get to, so he disconnected the washing machine, pulled it away from the wall and said I’d need to call a plumber ASAP.

Now I don’t know about where you live but around these parts, plumbers, electricians, builders, plasterers and roofers are in high demand. You name a trade, and you can’t find anyone for love nor money. I had Bob Hope No Hope of finding a plumber unless it was an emergency call out. And that was how my Birthday would be spent, waiting for a plumber and an exorbitant call-out fee and then some.

Until a flash of inspiration struck. A guy down the road is fixing up his house and to be fair, it’s like peeling an onion- he’s always discovering something behind something else that needs sorting. I stuck my head round the door and asked if he had five minutes to take a look at the suspected leak.

Within just a few minutes, he had identified that the leak was in fact an old can of fly spray on the shelf that had split (I kid you not! I mean, you couldn’t write about it…), with the liquid dripping down the wall beside the washing machine, and the hissing was the can fizzing open. I felt a right idiot! But he didn’t laugh, just said it was one of those weird things that can happen. He said the key was to think before acting, to think logically and methodically, and not to make any assumptions or to jump to conclusions. Good advice, and applicable to many situations in life...

As we he was walking to the door, we were talking about what he was needing to do to get his house habitable. I asked what his background was to have such a multitude of skills and he said he’d left school with not much in the way of qualifications but that he’d got into engineering and loved it. His hands-on approach meant he relished finding solutions to problems. He repeated at least twice about how he didn’t have any qualifications to speak of. Yet, from what I could tell, he’d built an engineering business that was continuing to grow because he loved what he did and enjoyed employing people who like him, were extremely practical, clever at finding solutions, but might not have a list of exams they’d passed.

It got me thinking about something we talk about on The Winning Edge – the equation for success.

Take a look at these two columns:

                                                    Mindset                                   Qualifications

                                                    Thinking skills                       Experience

                                                    Motivation                             Knowledge

                                                    Attitude                                  Competence

There is a common link between the words on the left. And there is of course a link between the words in the list on the right. The question is, what percentage role do you think these two groups play in success?  So, for example, if you think they play an equal role, then your answer would be 50/50.

There is no answer that can be proved however, from our experience of almost four decades of The Winning Edge programme, we find it to be:

80 / 20

Of course, in many endeavours in life, you need the 20% to get a foot in the door, and education is a privilege for so many and should not be squandered as it’s not something everyone has access to. However, possessing qualifications is not the be all and end all and the lack of them does not determine the results you will get in life. The 80% leverages the 20% and when the 20% is lacking, it gives you the gumption to power forward. There are countless success stories of people who didn’t have the skills, qualifications nor experience in a situation but through pure self-belief, effective thinking skills, determination and motivation, they built something of their life for them to be proud of.

A brain surgeon who attended a Winning Edge programme, 100% agreed. He said of course, his role requires the qualifications, skills and experience however, to run an effective theatre, you need the thinking skills, the motivation, the right attitude and the mindset to rally a team, to get everyone on board, to keep the energy and positivity, especially for lengthy and complicated operations.

Too cool for skool

The question to ask yourself is how much time, money, and effort have you spent on the group on the right? What could you do if you worked as hard on the group on the left? Maybe you have a lot of books on self-development, but the thing is, have you read them? Do you take on board their ethos and actively employ it? Or do those books become part of your shelf-development i.e. they nicely pad out the book shelves…

Many people attend our Winning Edge courses and from the outset, believe it’s just another ‘how to’ training course. The thing is, we go deeper and it’s palpable to see that realisation in the room. Working through our 3-day course means being reminded, or becoming equipped with the knowledge and power that we as individuals get to direct our lives and create the results we want in life once we start to run our brain, rather than to allow it to run us.

If we think more consciously about the way we think, if we decide what we want out of life and have the belief, motivation and utter grit and determination to work at it to succeed, other than changing our mind or a lighthouse getting in the way (which we can choose to intelligently think our way around), we can achieve what we want to achieve.

Gonna change my way of thinking

Yes of course qualifications, knowledge and experience are important. I am not for one minute suggesting that none of these are required to become a success, but there are a lot of educated derelicts out there with multiple qualifications, yet their thinking skills, nor emotional intelligence, wouldn’t score very highly.

It reminds me of a quote by Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

So how can this apply in business? I go back to the question of how much money is spent on ‘how to’ training versus developing a team’s mindset – their thinking skills? Once your people understand that they are personally responsible for their thoughts and comprehend that their emotions are as a direct result of the nature of their thoughts, which is then evidenced in their behaviour, they can then hold themselves accountable.

If you have a team which isn’t working well together, if the lines of communication are not working, if a person doesn’t seem to be integrating well into a team, if targets are not being met, ‘how to’ training is like trying to fix a leaky pen with rubber gloves – it doesn’t get to the heart of the problem i.e. their thinking skills. What you think about isn’t nearly as important as the way you think about what you think about. To put it more simply, the nature of our thinking is as important as the subject.

Understanding that your life is the sum of all your past thoughts– including your thoughts about the things you didn’t choose to happen, knowing that no one has ever, or will ever upset you/make you angry, disappoint you, frustrate you; and that you are always exactly where you want to be, doing exactly what you want to do, puts you in an incredibly empowering mindset for work and life in general. It means you know you have choices in life- that you can allow life to just happen to you, or you get to choose what you do in life.

And that is why people who achieve great things– whatever success looks like to them, do it regardless of the level of qualifications, knowledge and experience that they possess from the start of their journey. Self-belief, confidence in their ability, determination and grit and a good dose of self-worth means they can set their goals and make them a realisation.

So, I ask you to think about the level of importance you place on each of the aforementioned two columns. What’s the percentage weighting you give them, and do you think a change is necessary?

Something to give some thought to…

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Do you find it challenging to feel in charge of your emotions? Does stress play a large part in your life?

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