We’ve all heard the quote that your success is 20% down to the actions you take, but 80% down to your attitude? But over a decade of mentoring passionate World-Changers has shown me that’s no longer true. It’s nowhere near enough. And I want to share with you exactly why – and what you can be doing instead. And, perhaps surprisingly, the solution is much, much easier.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I agree with the concept that your results are governed by something much more important than your ‘outside world’ actions. But to say that it’s all down to your ‘attitude’ or ‘mindset’ feels like a risky over-simplification.
Let’s start by working with and deconstructing the word ‘mindset’. (Thank you Bob Buckley for the nudge on this!)
The dictionary defines it as “a person’s way of thinking and their opinions.” (Cambridge English Dictionary)
The two halves of the word are ‘mind’ and ‘set’. At a subconscious level, talking about ‘mindset’ gives our unconscious mind the instruction that this is a ‘set’ position – something solid, fixed and unchangeable. If you think about ‘mindset’ and feel it in your body (I know that might sound crazy – please bear with me) then it usually feels solid. And for many of us it produces a contraction and tensing of muscles in the gut or the jaw and throat.
It can trigger sensations of tension and forcing and resistance – taking you out of flow and ease. You’re effectively trying to control your thoughts, to ‘force’ them to line up with how you feel they ‘should’ be.
In addition, psychologists have known for decades that one of the most important factors for success is a person’s level of behavioural flexibility. If your mind – your beliefs, opinions and thoughts – are fixed or set, then your behaviours are very unlikely to be flexible.
Remember the pyramid? Your mindset is at the ‘thoughts’ level and is closely linked to your beliefs about what is possible, and your choices about what is right or wrong. It is an ‘effect’ of the stuff below the surface. So if you’re trying to control it, without doing the deep-dive work, you’re setting yourself up for a rocky ride.
So maybe we need to look at ‘attitude’, instead?
That gets a similar definition: “a settled way of thinking or feeling about something.”
In other words, it’s another ‘set in stone’ frame of mind.
Is that likely to lead to flexibility?
And why do we need behavioural flexibility, anyway?
If we could completely predict and control life and everybody in it, we would be able to get by with whichever behaviours and habits we’re already running and all would be fine. But we can’t. Change happens. Things go wrong. Things go brilliantly. Opportunities come up. Some pass us by.
We don’t set our course and then keep heading in that direction, stubborn as a mountain goat, forever. Life isn’t like that. It would be dull, if it were. We’re like ships on the ocean currents, constantly adapting our course, to reach our destination. That requires flexibility of behaviour, which requires flexibility of thinking (mindset), which requires flexibility of beliefs – and ditching those hidden blocks that would otherwise get in the way.
Having worked with so many people – and on myself – over the years, I can see that a ‘mindset’ or an ‘attitude’ is great, but only until the next change.
Yes, believing in yourself and expecting success are essential ingredients in turning your dreams into reality. But if your thoughts are too rigid – too set – then as soon as an unexpected obstacle shows up, you’ll crash into it. Even the most empowering belief and mindset shift will hold you back at some point in the future, as you outgrow it. But trying to keep up with changing your beliefs and attitudes would be exhausting. And, luckily, you don’t have to, if you drop down a couple of levels, instead.
No amount of positive thinking is going to dig you out of a hole you fall into due to hidden blocks like Imposter Syndrome or following a course that’s not lined up with your Big Vision. You need to do some deeper work.
So what can you do instead?
You need to get your thoughts and actions lined up with who you really area and what’s important to you (the esoteric ‘why am I here?’ question). Then clear out your blocks – the limiting beliefs, fears, out-of-date excuses and unsupportive habits, so that there’s a clear flow between the bottom and the top of the pyramid. When all of this lines up, you can create magic. And your ‘mindset’ or ‘attitude’ look after themselves.
When it’s out of alignment – when you’re trying to think thoughts that clash with your beliefs, for example, or pretending your way into a ‘positive attitude’ towards a project that you’re secretly scared of – then you create an inner conflict. Your unconscious mind gets stuck in the middle as the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ aspects of your world play a ferocious tug of war.
You have to use massive willpower to achieve your results. You might feel like you’re constantly policing your thoughts and working on your mood and mental state. You’ll subconsciously self-sabotage.
Your mindset and attitude are the effect – the causes are your beliefs, your values and your sense of self. So ‘mindset’ is like a ‘sticky plaster’ (Band Aid for my American friends) on the surface, covering up the cracks underneath, if you’re trying to force yourself to act or think or even feel in a way that’s not lined up with your deeper identity and what’s important to you.
But when you get lined up with who you really are and what’s important to you, and you crank up the passion on your Big Why, then that fire burns through the inner blocks and exposes those limiting beliefs, ready for you to let them go. And your mindset becomes irrelevant.
What do I mean by ‘line up’?
You know how they say that ‘dogs can smell fear’? Well humans can smell ‘intention’.
Have you ever had an email from an online marketer who is offering you something for ‘free’, but you can somehow ‘sense’ that there’s going to be a very expensive sting in the tail that is designed so that you won’t be able to resist it?
Well, you’re sensing their intention.
If their intention is to genuinely offer you great value – and there happens to be a deep-dive paid option – then that feels very different to if their intention is to give you the freebie, in order that you buy their product. We have some kind of sixth sense for this stuff.
When you start working with sensing your intention and lining that up with the brightest and best and highest of who you really are, then everything else falls into place. Working on your mindset isn’t necessary.
You can forget about mindset and attitude, when you line up your intention with the bottom half of the pyramid.
How can you connect with your intention?
It hangs out in your ‘feeling’ world, not your ‘thinking’ world.
If you feel great about doing something, then your intention is positively aligned and the mindset and actions will follow. If you don’t, it won’t.
One of the most effective ways of playing with this, so that choosing your intention becomes instinctive for you, is to build it into your morning routine. Before you get out of bed each day, ask yourself,
“What’s my keyword for how I choose to experience life today?”
Then, at key points in your day, go back to that word and allow yourself to fully experience the feeling of it.
The shift is so profound, yet so simple to do.
And let me now, via the comments, how you get on and if you have any questions – or lightbulbs.
If you enjoyed this article, then I hope you’ll love the Dare To Dream Bigger Handbook – this is one of the chapters in it. Here’s where to get your copy and dive in already in our gorgeous Readers’ Club.
With love, Namaste,