How to transform your constrictive mindset

A mindset has the following characteristics:

  • It’s a strongly held belief or conviction.
  • It really feels true to the person with the mindset.
  • The person identifies with, or is attached to the mindset.
  • If you disagree with the mindset, you often trigger negativity in the person with the mindset.
  • The mindset gives rise both to certain actions and to avoidance.

One way to transform constrictive mindsets into expansive ones is to take the following steps. Try it on yourself first – you need to understand how hard this can be before you try working on someone else!

First, realise that you have a constrictive mindset. If you find yourself resisting this step, just look at the evidence. Are you happy and fulfilled, producing a steady flow of successful outcomes? No? Then there’s your answer!

  1. Try to identify the ‘sentence’ underlying the mindset: ‘people can’t change’, ‘it’s impossible to be successful in business in a recession’, ‘I’m rubbish’, are all constrictive mindsets.
  2. Then look at what hanging onto that mindset is costing you (in terms of results, happiness and fulfilment).
  3. The final step is to start imagining what things would be like without that old mindset. Build a really clear picture in your mind of what success looks like, and take action consistent with this picture.

Some of the most constrictive mindsets we see in business are related to producing results, and leading and motivating staff. The symptoms are ‘no plan’, ‘poor organisation’, ‘blame’ and ‘fear’. All of these come from constrictive mindsets.

Here are some famous constrictive mindsets from the past:

“I think there’s a world market for maybe five computers.” (Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.)

“There is no reason why anyone would want to have a computer in their home.” (Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp, 1977.)

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” (Western Union memo, 1876.)

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” (HM Warner, Warner Bros, 1927.)

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” (Decca Recording Company rejecting the Beatles, 1962.)

“Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.” (Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.)

…and finally…

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” (Charles H Duell, Commissioner, US Office of Patents, 1899.)

Imagine what kind of world we’d be living in now if anybody had listened to them!

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