Three mindset things wot I learnt this week…Aug 09, 2021
I have had three aha moments this week where it has led me to drill down on my ability to see things from another’s perspective, a reminder of the power of desire over fear as motivation, and the benefit of recognising the lighthouses in life.
Ring rang a dong on a holiday
For the past eight years, my family and I have been in the fortunate position of being able to stay in the holiday home of my sister’s in-laws. We’re very grateful because theirs is a big family, so there are many who also want to enjoy this fabulous coastal retreat. However, each year, we have the opportunity of a week by the sea in glorious Suffolk.
When we first started going, my girls were quite small and they loved the nearby park, romping through the woods, and the easy access to the private beach. The fact there’s no Wi-Fi signal didn’t bother them – we were several years off that being a priority.
With it being the second year of the staycation, and having not been able to go last year because for the most part, the UK was confined to barracks, I personally am so excited that we have our week there booked in. Unfortunately, we needed to cancel our much-anticipated holiday to foreign climes this year, because everything was looking far too unpredictable. But my little slice of seaside heaven makes up for it – no Wi-Fi, and nothing to do. Pure bliss.
Except that’s not how one of my teenagers sees it. And to be honest, I just hadn’t thought about it from her point of view. No Wi-Fi and nothing to do – heaven on a stick for a middle-aged Mum of three who works full-time. No Wi-Fi and nothing to do for a teenager – hell on earth. Well, maybe it’s not quite that bad but certainly it’s boredomville.
I didn’t even give the ‘you should be grateful we’re going away at all’ speech because quite frankly, if I were her, I’d probably think the same, and she’d probably rather be at home truth be told. In my opinion, she’s not being obstinate, or ungrateful, it’s that from her side of the beach ball, she sees a holiday destination that she’s been to since she was 5 years old, when we do the same old same old, and to add insult to injury, there is no signal so she can’t surf the net, chat to friends, nor scroll through what’s hot and what’s not on social media.
So, as a family (because my daughter needs to play her part too in making it an enjoyable week), we are looking into different places we can visit and activities we do, to ensure everyone has a great week. I may just need to be willing to get out of my comfort zone for the week too…
Through the trees
My youngest missed out on her class residential last year due to COVID. It’s a much-anticipated trip and everyone was so disappointed it couldn’t go ahead. It was the same this year so one of the Mums decided that once all restrictions had been lifted, perhaps us parents could take the children on an activities camp.
The trip was booked - a parent accompanying each child and we stay for one night, with three activities the next day – Canoeing, the Zip Wire and then the High Ropes.
After a late night with the kids very excited and no one getting much sleep, Jim, the activity leader arrived to take the children off to the canoeing. Three of the parents (including me!), asked if we could join in – we didn’t want to miss the fun. Cue an hour of canoeing, hopping between boats as we all played games, then jumping in at the end – several times. Much fun was had.
Next came the zip wire and to enable the children to have more turns, grown-ups forfeited having a go – it was after all, meant to be all about the kids!
Then came the High Ropes. Now, I’m not a massive fan of heights. In my time, whilst travelling around the world, I did my fair share of bungee jumping, sky diving, parasailing, glacier walking, abseiling and white-water rafting but once you become a parent, very often a sense of responsibility and mortality sets in. I took one look at the High Ropes at the adventure camp and thought ‘thanks but no thanks!’.
And then I watched as my youngest’s class – a group of 11-year-olds, scaled their way up a tree and made their way round a course with eight different elements. A couple of them got the fear at two different points and so Jim helped them, and on they continued. I so admired their tenacity and courage. Which is why I thought I just couldn’t be a wimp and watch from the ground.
Harnessed up and having made my way up the tree, I asked Jim why on earth I was doing this. His response: ‘Personal growth? Because you’re challenging yourself? Getting out of your comfort zone?’ Who was this man? How did he know the exact words to motivate me?!
And so off I went. I stepped out onto the first platform. Did I feel brave? Fearless? Confident? Glad I was challenging myself? Not one of those things. I felt scared, clueless and just wanted to climb back down. But to inspire me, I watched those 11-year-olds ahead of me, carefully making their way round, feeling brave at a height of about 10 metres.
About halfway round, there was a section where I froze. I needed to jump from one platform to another i.e. there was a gap. It was like I had lead in my shoes. I didn’t put my trust in the safety equipment and just couldn’t see how I could possibly make myself jump across.
I concentrated on my breathing and slowed it down. On the Winning Edge course we talk about being out on the metaphorical plank and across the other side is something we want so badly – maybe it’s a promotion we seek, perhaps a conversation we want to have, or a new business idea. We want to put our self out there because it’s important to us. But fear will only get us so far. Fear is a motivator, but it doesn’t ensure we stick to the course – desire is what we need. And my desire to finish that High Ropes course, to feel I had successfully challenged myself, that my youngest would feel proud that I’d done it, that desire motivated me to finish the second half.
Abraham Maslow once said: ‘“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” It’s important to step out of our comfort zone because when it feels awkward, tricky, icky and challenging, that’s when the growth takes place. Even though I didn’t enjoy the High Ropes, there is a sense of satisfaction in knowing that I am still willing to test myself and to try new things.
If I talk the talk on this kind of mindset stuff, I had better walk the walk…
Raindrops keep falling on my head
This summer’s weather, quite frankly, in my opinion, is pants. As mentioned above, we have the opportunity to have a week holidaying in Suffolk and we can but hope the weather is kind to us. But if it decides to rain all week, so be it. All we can do, is pack our wellies, sou’wester and stormbreak waterproofs!
As you will hear me frequently say, the weather is one of life’s lighthouses – something which we can do absolutely nothing about. Just as sailors need to navigate their way around a lighthouse, so too do we need to intelligently navigate our thinking around the weather which is not to our liking, or the passing of time which we cannot change either.
There's an urban myth of the story of the large naval ship which spots something on its radar, with a potential collision unless one of them changes course. The naval vessel demands to the voice on the other end of the radio that they move by 15 degrees, but the voice advises that they are the ones who change course. The captain of the naval vessel gets quite heated that he’s not being obeyed until his counterpart reveals that he is an able seaman in charge of a lighthouse… The following recording could be a hoax but it’s fun to listen to all the same!
The weather and the passing of time are two of life’s lighthouses and it’s important for our sanity to recognise when we can do nothing about these things; however, it doesn’t mean we won’t still feel angry, frustrated, or disappointed.
Myself and my extended family have just made the decision to cancel a get-together for 20 of us because the weather is not looking conducive to a day on the beach tomorrow. We’d decided to have a picnic, play games, and go for a walk. You’d think planning for an August date, the weather might just be summery… Thunderstorms are forecast. It’s too late to book anywhere that will accommodate so many, plus six dogs, and I’m really upset. The pandemic (another lighthouse), means we haven’t been able to have our annual meet-up for two years now – it takes a lot to coordinate five family diaries…
I know my emotions are all valid, but I’m reminding myself that I get to choose how long I decide to feel disappointed, upset and frustrated.
The one thing I can control in all of this, is how I choose to manage my mindset. And so I choose to wallow and feel sad and miss my family, but then we will move onto organising another date and maybe instead have a family Zoom call – after all, we did it enough in Lockdown, so we know what we’re doing!
And my daughter’s take on the weather that we’re finding somewhat annoying at the moment is hilarious – she suggests we ‘punch the weather’ – this makes me smile because it’s as non-sensical as hoping that all my annoyance will actually make a difference to the forecast!
These three moments this week have been reminders of how I can reset my mindset – to be more consciously aware of the nature of my thoughts and the effect they are having on me and my personal growth – plus the importance of attempting to see things from another’s perspective.
Perhaps reflecting on the past seven days, there are some learning moments for you too…
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