Fall of the year 2000 I was making my way across the vast, green expanse of Baylor University’s campus. I’d arrived on campus a week before classes started and done meticulous tours of the then-empty buildings, to make sure my poor sense of direction didn’t rob me of time like it did back home.
Waco fall mornings were crisper than Houston’s. The air kept a little chill on it longer, unlike that heavy humidity that was always waiting just beyond the sunrise back home, even through October. I thought it would be warmer by now, I thought. I have to keep a little jacket in my bag.
Glancing up from my campus map, I came to the identical red brick buildings nicknamed “The Quad” but all having different actual names. Aw hell. I think I’m supposed to go to...Old Main? Yes. This is it.
Up the stairs, down the hall, past numbers that rose and fell with no normal sense of sequence, I made it to my academic advisor’s office.
I don’t remember much more about him than his whiteness or maleness. He wasn’t funny or warm. He didn't seem to have any energy to connect with me. His checklist was in front of him, we talked about the importance of declaring a major, how many hours I needed per semester to graduate on time, summer school, the usual I guess. It was a blur.
The clear part that stands out in my memory is when I asked about graduating with honors. I’d graduated with honors from high school, in the top 5 percent of my class, made National Honor Society, with a 3.8 in all Advanced Placement classes. It would have been a 4.0 but I didn’t get serious until tenth grade. He didn’t know that though. He couldn’t have, because his response was:
“Don’t you worry about that. Just focus on trying to pass the classes you have and getting out on time.”
At seventeen (almost eighteen), I left that office with a completely new mentality. I allowed this man, this authority, this “advisor” to erase a memory of years of hard work and giftedness with a “just pass” perspective. This was his job, his expertise, so I trusted him more than my young self. And so, I set off, a deflated freshman, with lukewarm dreams of passing and making it out of college, leaving my cum laude and suma cum laude hopes in his office.
It took me fifteen years to let go of that memory and grab hold to my talent for learning, my appetite for knowledge, and the thrill of applying that knowledge. What happened? Well, in short, I did not have the life I believe I deserved, and I had to change my mindset.
January is the time of year that we turn the page, set new goals, create our visions for the year, and at the very least think about what we want and don’t want.
Did you know that according to Business Insider 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by February?
The reason most folks fall off is that we set goals for meaningful change without including our mindset in our goals.
Any business coach, manifestor, therapist, any book about personal development will spend some time understanding and dismantling the current mindset.
The definition of mindset:
the established set of attitudes held by someone.
Also described as a belief system that orients the way we handle ourselves.
I would describe it as what you believe is possible for yourself, based on the history of your own experience and that of your family, race, gender and immediate culture.
To give you an example, After a series of heartbreaks, (romantic and friendship, which are even harder to heal from) I decided to start running.
I got out there in cheap sneakers and basically, pajamas. I had a terrible, painful experience and said running isn’t for me. It looked like I was running alright--running away from home! Chile, those cheap Ross sneakers and Old Navy clearance sweatpants are NOT designed for running. By the end of a mile, my cotton pants were heavy with sweat and my feet had blisters so raw I couldn't even set my foot down flat.
I set a goal and didn’t assess how I thought about the goal. I asked no questions, like: What did I need for a successful run? What did I want out of the run? Who do I know that runs, what do they do? Nope. I just ran, it didn’t go well, so now running is over. My mindset is that I don't run, and when I tried, I hurt myself.
According to Carol Dweck, author Mindset and thought leader in the area of motivation, there are 2 kinds of mindsets: Growth and Fixed.
With a Fixed Mindset, people believe that their qualities are fixed traits and therefore cannot change.
With a Growth Mindset, people have an underlying belief that thier learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience.
A person with a fixed mindset believes that their talent alone is what guarantees them success, not effort, and they kind of get what they get. In a Growth mindset, people believe that they can put effort into growing their intellect, talent and achieve more.
In the advisor’s office and years later on the Rice University Trail, my mindset was fixed. I believe that whatever he told me was true, and however I performed on that trail was the best running experience I could have.
What kind of mindset do you have right now? As we move into 2019, you don’t have to let your goals die. A year is plenty of time to see radical life change! What should shift first is our belief about what is possible.
Here are Four Ways to understand your mindset:
1. Interior dialog: What does your inner critic say?
We all have an inner messaging; some folks call it a conscience. Others call it an inner critic. Sigmund Freud calls it the “superego,” the part of a person's mind that acts as a self-critical conscience, reflecting social standards learned from parents and teachers. What does yours say?
2. Self-Talk: How do you talk out loud about yourself and your goals?
“My goal is to just pass my classes and not go home.”
“I am not a runner. I only run to Chick-Fil-A before 10 am to get that chicken biscuit.”
These were my words out loud as I talked about my goals. Words have energy, power, they create. Honestly assess how you’ve talked about yourself and your goals lately.
3. Personal culture and habits: What do you do based on what your inner critic says?
A scholar has to study. A runner has to run. What habits do you already have in place based on what your inner critic says? I would always look at other students stressing over their perfect grades and shun them, say, “It’s not that serious,” and do my bare minimum.
4. Self-Investment: How do you educate and invest in yourself toward your goal?
The reality is, we have to spend time and resources to learn anything, even to drop fries at McDonald's. What time and money have you spent on your goal? One of my favorite coaches, Kristi Jackson says, “Sometimes the shortcut to the next level is in your wallet.” You have to spend the money toward your goal.
I’ve developed a curriculum called Confusion to Clarity. I help professional women, groups and business leaders go from Confusion to Clarity, understand who they truly are and leverage that self-mastery to improve relationships, increase performance and reach their goals.
I use The Enneagram of Personality as apart of this larger curriculum to help clients understand themselves and others better. The Enneagram is an ancient symbol, a map that explores nine paths of human nature; nine ways that we cope with early childhood trauma through strategies that become solidified as our personality. To learn more about The Enneagram, click here.
I work with my clients and groups to move from self-awareness to self-acceptance, to self-mastery. The end result is a radical transformation of our lives through compassionately knowing ourselves and others.
According to The Wisdom of The Enneagram by Riso and Hudson, The inner critic, or superego of each personality type says:
Type 8: You are good or okay as long as you are strong and in control of the situation.
Type 9: You are good or okay if you are peace and others are at peace.
Type 1: You are good or okay if you if you do what is right.
Type 2: You are good or okay if you are loved by others and are close to them.
Type 3: You are good or okay if you successful and others think well of you
Type 4: You are good or okay if you are true to yourself.
Type 5: You are good or okay if you have thoroughly mastered something.
Type 6: You are good or okay if you cover all the bases and do what is expected of you.
Type 7: You are good or okay if you feel good and are getting what you want.
Take a moment to notice which one resonates with you.
What does your inner critic tell you? How does this affect your mindset?
Do you believe that you must prove, defend, and justify yourself?
Or do you believe that you can grow to acquire every good thing you desire?
As we move into 2019, reflect to see how you've grown and what issues still block your way to a deeper transformation. Has there been a theme in 2018 and do you see a pattern for your future challenges?
As we get into 2019, on my blog we’ll explore our mindset from our different intelligence centers:
And experiment with how we can shift into the lives we want.
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