Mindset Matters

I might be a bit behind the curve here, but I’ve just realised something. When getting stuff done, having the greatest tools and processes is fine but if you don’t use them you might as well not have them. And to use them you need to be in control of your mind. The mental game is paramount.

Achievement, at any level, is about the methodology AND mindset. I guess my realisation is not so much about the importance of mindset but is about the fact that although we understand the importance of  mindset we still do so very little about it.

Education seldom addresses it. Most coaches barely touch on it. Why?

Because it’s hard? Because it’s a bit wooo-wooo?

But it’s half the game, and probably more.

If I was presented with a choice between –

1. Having the best tools and processes in the world but seldom using them because of some mental barrier like procrastination, and

2. Having good enough tools but a mindset that not only didn’t hinder me but helped me…

I’d go for the latter every time.  Who wouldn’t?

There will always be a need for better tools and processes but I think most of that stuff is readily available and of high quality:

  • Sales as a process is understood (transactional and consultative)
  • Marketing is understood
  • Operational excellence is understood
  • Strategic planning as a process is understood

It’s all available. You may not have it in your head but you can get the overview for nothing from Google and if you want the complete toolbox someone will sell it to you.

But distinction in performance comes from mastering the mental game.

The sports people have known this for ages.

There’s two levels to this –

First level – throw out the rubbish…

When not fully commanded by you, your mind has a tendency to produce rubbish: procrastination, fear, negative self-talk, biases, prejudices, bad beliefs, tribalism, being a slave to emotions – and that’s just me…

I cannot take each of these apart in a 600 word article. Suffice to say, it’s all rubbish and none of it has a place in anyone’s head.

Second level – putting your mind to good use…

Taking charge – you being aware of everything that your mind injects into your consciousness and you deciding whether or not to keep the thought. If the thought doesn’t serve you, reject it pretty quickly.

  • Taking the time to consider what’s possible and seeing all barriers as temporary and surmountable. In other words, thinking BIG. Genuinely believing that the sky is, in fact, the limit.
  • Realising you have free will and actually using it.
  • Constantly pushing your comfort zone.
  • Learning continuously. (Really – if we are not learning what are we doing?)

Once again, the sports people are showing us the way. Top athletes these days have physios and coaches of course but they also have head doctors as well. Because once the 10,000 hours of training has been done (4 hours a day 5 days a week for a decade) and the body has reached its potential, the mind will make you or break you. The mind will either make you transcendent, or will trip you up on the final lap.

I am not sure why we neglect the mindset issue. Maybe it’s because education is, rightly, at least for a while, tools-based. We need the three R’s. But to keep going solely on the tools-track is robotic. As we mature and the normal stuff becomes routine, we need to look further afield for development. We need to look at our mindset.

We need to think more like top athletes (but without the 10,000 hours of slog).

And this is good because mindset is within our sphere of control. Looking for a new tool…”I need a better spanner”… is pretty close to a workman blaming his tools. It’s an externalisation. This is never good.

But “I’m going to master the inner game of mindset” sounds like something we can actually do. We might not know how but we’ll work it out.

And this is an internalisation which is…

a) better than an externalisation…


b) the first step to self-mastery…

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2 Responses to Mindset Matters

  1. Eilidh Milnes August 1, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    The inner game of mindset – too true. Your points always seem to land when I need a reminder.
    On the practical side of ‘throwing out the rubbish,’ we have scheduled a major office sort out this week.

    I am now looking at this tedious task with a totally different mindset, thanks to your Mark.

    And thanks too for the great series of videos you’ve sent recently.

    Remind me of the best way of sharing these please?

  2. Hiren Patel August 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Once again Mark, your blog had come at a time when this is what I’ve been working on, and tI’ll tell you this much, so much more gets done when you have the right mindset… What used to take me a day only takes me 2-3hrs, saved myself more time and now starting to get things done even quicker!

    I have to tell you a little story about a friend. He is a 100m sprinter and does this most evenings and weekends as a hobby. To cut a long story short, he’s 19years old and decided to run a marathon. He’d never ran more than 200m, ever. From the time he decided he was going to do it and the date of the event was only two weeks and they day after his dad’s 50th.

    Talk about mindset, he was still drunk when he woke up on the morning of the event, he had a can of coke, a mars bar and a banana, and he ran it in less than 4hrs! Stopping regularly, but he did it quicker than most people do after training for months.

    I’m not saying this is the best way to it, but he set his mind on it and acheived it. He’s now training properly for another marathon and wants to do it in 3hrs!

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