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10 Principles to Optimize Your Business Results: Principle #7 – Mindset Shapes Results

08 Dec

Imagine you’re strapped into the cockpit of an experimental rocket underneath the wing of a bomber tens of thousands of feet in the air. In a few seconds the bomber will drop you, and you’ll fall toward certain death. Your only chance is to fire your jet engine, launching you toward the threshold of space at many times the speed of sound.

If you’re, say, a shoe salesman, it’s sheer terror. If you’re Chuck Yeager, it’s Tuesday.

Principle #7 on our list of Success Principles involves mindset — the mental attitude we apply to a given situation. Mindset primes us for success or failure.

Mindset, our habitual or characteristic mental attitude, determines how we interpret and respond to situations, and shapes how we see the world. We then act in accordance with those perceptions. Like Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can do something or you think you can’t, you’re right.” If we feel that there’s no way we can accomplish a given goal, we will refuse to try. That’s’ human nature.

Mindset also gives us our rules of engagement — the protocols we always use in situations we commonly face or have faced before. Protocols have a huge effect on how teams and individuals collaborate, cooperate and coordinate action together as each person’s rules of engagement allows for some actions while prohibiting others. In other words, our mindset tells us what is possible or impossible, what we can or can’t do, and what we should or should not do.  This is all based on our past experience, and has nothing to do with what is really possible. If we fail to examine the rules we’ve set for ourselves, we have enslaved ourselves to them.

For teams to create breakthroughs they have to be willing to make commitments that they do not know how to accomplish at the time they make the commitment.  They have to be willing to plan from the commitment back and invent what needs to be invented to fulfill the commitment. They have to be willing to suspend their protocols based on the past and make a commitment from the future.  They have to shift their mindset. Once a team does this once, they will have embodied the practice of creating the breakthroughs necessary for long-term, sustainable success.  They will be unstoppable.

When you’ve never flown a supersonic rocket before, you have no idea whether you’ll make it back to earth or become a falling star. If you’re a veteran test pilot, on the other hand, you’ve done it many times before, both live and in simulations. You know the rules. You understand what will work and what won’t. You know you can do it because you’ve done it. And you hit the button and fire that jet.

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