If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. – Bruce Lee
Our minds are incredibly powerful, but that doesn’t mean they always work in our favor. They can drive us to accomplish great feats, or they can squash us to accomplish little to nothing. They can even drive some to do very destructive and evil things.
What we feed our minds determines what we get out of it. And, we do, in fact, have a lot of control over what our minds are fed — based on the choices we make.
Just like putting the optimum fuel into a vehicle, we have to fuel our brains with the right thoughts. We have to be aware of how we are thinking instead of just accepting our current beliefs. Our choices about our environment, our diet, our physical activity, and what we listen to or watch all have significant impacts on the type of fuel we are feeding to our minds.
Our beliefs can most certainly change. We don’t have to accept our beliefs for what they currently are. Unfortunately, most people do. Also unfortunately, many of us have been influenced by people with negative views on the world. Or, even worse, a fixed mindset or fixed view of the world. A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way. And, success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard. Striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled. People with a fixed mindset tend to accept things in the world as being fixed and beyond their control.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” ― Henry Ford
So, you think you don’t have a fixed mindset? I call you out on that one! Everyone, to a certain extent, believes that things are fixed and that they can’t be changed. In fact, I don’t think it’s all that bad, necessarily. Without being able to count on certain things being fixed, things can be both unstable and scary. I’m pretty sure we weren’t made to be in a growth mindset all the time. It’s more a matter of how you can control that pattern, or thinking, and change your mindset from fixed to growth.
A “growth mindset” thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence, but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. This takes courage and grit, surely. Both of which, I believe, can be developed with effort and intentionality. If you think that some people are “born with courage and grit”, then you’re suffering from a fixed mindset!
Out of these two mindsets, which we manifest from a very early age, springs a great deal of our behavior, our relationship with success and failure in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately our capacity for happiness.
Many of us have not been raised to think like the “successful people” do. Survival comes from being careful, going with the flow, and not making waves (or enemies). But, the mere belief that this is an excuse and an evolutionary fact is a negative thought that does not serve you. It is the wrong kind of fuel for your mind. Certainly, it is the wrong fuel for anyone wanting to be a great leader.
Here’s another thing to reflect on. Most people are negative. And, we develop negative beliefs because we allow other “unsuccessful” people to influence us. You must tune them out, which is very difficult.
Positive thoughts are meant to serve you in a way that creates happiness and helps you achieve whatever goals you have. Remember this, and pay special and close attention to what you are feeding your mind. It has both a direct and powerful impact on your thinking.
As with most things, awareness is critical. If you can start being aware of your thoughts, beliefs, and habits your mind has in place, you can enable and equip yourself to take the necessary steps to change them over time to help you become who you want to be.
Your mind is ultimately what will make or break you. If you can control it and make it work in your favor, you will go on to achieve great things that most people don’t.
For example, people don’t hurt your feelings. You choose to let their input create negative thoughts in your own mind and then your feelings are hurt. But, you, all along, had the power to refuse to allow this. You can simply choose to not let their input affect you negatively. It is that simple!
If you can develop your mindset to be both positive and in a “growth perspective”, you will be able to get that incredible relationship, million dollar business or a healthy body. If you don’t learn to control your own mind to work in your favor, you will fail. That is guaranteed like Henry Ford said.
If you remain negative and live with a “fixed perspective”, you will be lazy, constantly procrastinating, making little money, out of shape, and constantly disappointed with where you are in life. All along, you have the power to change this. Everyone does. Leaders especially must master this. No organization that is both negative and fixed will ever accomplish anything good.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t live in reality or think that you shouldn’t either. Nor am I saying that nothing has limits. For example, obviously, our bodies have limits. We can only stand certain temperatures; we can only go a limited amount of time without air. But, our minds are different. They forge their own limits. Those with fixed mindsets will work within their limits and stay within the comfort zones that allow them to feel contentment with a sense of conformity. How unfulfilling!
On the flipside, pushing our minds beyond their own limits can give us an indescribable sense of joy by showing us how limitless we truly are. We are what we think we are.
If you think you can’t run a marathon, you’ll never push yourself to start training; you’ll limit your body by your mind’s perception. Personally, I am not a runner. And, before a year ago, I had never run more than 5 miles at a time. I have arthritis in my right hip, at age 41. I certainly believed that I was limited. Then, I realized that I was limiting myself mentally. I decided to see if I could run 10 miles. I had never tried it before. Guess what? I did it! The only thing that kept me from doing that was my own mind! Now, I can comfortably run 15 miles and like to do it ever so often just to remind myself of the weakness of my own mind. I love it. And, during the time I run, I think intentionally about all the things in my life that my mind is putting limits on. I can’t even describe how much this has improved my mental strength.
Doing what you want to do starts with believing it’s possible, no matter how difficult it may be. Achieving what is beyond our pre-conceived limits is what strengthens not only our bodies but also our own minds. If you feel so led, write down a list of all the things that you “can’t do”, and then think about why you can’t. Is it because you have a fixed mindset? Take one of those things and decide not to believe it anymore. Not all the things. Just one thing. Now, go do it!
It’s not a big stretch to say that Jesus knew that the human mind limited itself to the possibilities. I think this is pretty obvious for anyone that has read any of the New Testament Gospels. From a leadership perspective, he definitely branched out and didn’t want to limit his teachings to his home country. He took his message and hit the road, going wherever his message needed to be heard. He looked at the big picture and saw that the world was full of fertile ground that needed to be reached. Leaders must constantly look for ways to expand their vision, their impact, and their contributions to the world. There are always more possibilities than either our eyes or our simple minds can see. Jesus had no limits, of course, and he demanded that his disciples didn’t either, mandating them to spread the Gospel on a worldwide basis. Great leaders are realistic, yes, but they are also open-minded and don’t see limits on what they are trying to accomplish. And, why should they? If what they are doing is good, and if it is impacting people in a positive way, why should they put limits on it?
Great leaders know that they can’t put limits on what can be accomplished. Leaders that can’t get over limits are dangerous. They ask “why not?” many more times than “why?”
Not only do they limit themselves, they limit everyone else, which is a travesty. I hate when I see that, because, it is very sad to me. These types of “leaders” can actually take people that would otherwise accomplish great things and push them down to never achieve anything or fulfill even a fraction of their potential.
Great leaders not only learn and practice a growth mindset, but they teach others to do so as well. And, together, their teams accomplish great things and can experience a great sense of joy and accomplishment.