What do you see in the above image? The potential hassles of a rainy day? Or the perfect opportunity to show off those adorable new rain boots?
Our experiences are the result of our perceptions. In other words, the way you perceive an experience dictates whether it is positive or negative, beneficial or catastrophic. For example; while it may be a natural part of life to initially feel defeated by failure, the question becomes, do we make a choice to settle into the quicksand of failure? Or do we choose to turn and focus on what we’ve learned and how we can beneficially and productively apply it?
The famous quotes below give us insight into mindsets and offer evidence about how mindset affects our life and our influence in the world.
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. – Henry Ford
Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill
You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it. – Maya Angelou
I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again. That is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan
Failure is not the opposite of success. It is part of success. – Unknown
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. – Thomas Edison
Failure is success in progress. – Albert Einstein
I don’t fail. I either succeed or learn. – Zig Ziglar
These quotes demonstrate a positive mindset and a growth/learning-focused view of the difficulties and challenges that we all experience in life.
Essentially, mindset is causative. Our responses and behaviors are shaped by our interpretation of events, which is a result of our beliefs, attitudes and assumptions – all part of our mindset. Our mindset can tend to be invisible to us and also become so familiar that it is habitual. We learn things in childhood and throughout life that due to our own unique perceptions, result in points-of-view and beliefs that default us to a given point on the spectrum of positive verses negative mindset.
Sidebar: The age at which we first experience and deal with certain challenges, heartbreaks (or even traumas) may leave us subconsciously bound to repeat those “child-like” respones when we experience similar challenges as an adult. In other words, the manner in which we responded (internally or externally) as a child, is how we may still tend to respond as an adult. This is known as regression and most of us will experience it at some point in our adult lives. Understandably, it can be difficult and even painful to have this pointed out to us... and very hard to admit - yet this awareness, can lead to new behaviors and reap incredible rewards - personally and relationally.
Mindset also leads us to default to subconscious thoughts, perspectives, and also behaviors. Many times, people with a negative mindset will say they are simply being realistic. However, their “reality” is based on their assessment which is not really fact, but rather their interpretation and opinion of events and situations. The quotes above offer evidence of this, in that, failure (which is typically viewed as negative) can actually be positive if the person chooses to use it as such.
We all have a mindset. The question is, what type is it?
We all have a mindset. The question is - What type of mindset is it? As we gain awareness through self-observation and hearing our own voice, we can begin to catch a glimpse of our mindset. We can also ask several people who we trust, and who truly love us, to gently share what they perceive about our mindset (emphasis on gently).
It is important to remember that all mindsets originally start out with an important purpose. Sometimes it is for self-protection or risk-avoidance and they may be necessary for a time. But sometimes those types of mindsets stick around for far too long, well after they have outlived their purpose, usefulness, and benefit. That is when they can start hindering our progress, growth, and relationships.
Mindsets may sometimes be associated with the following spectrum of traits - to name just a few: victimology (powerlessness), healthy self-esteem, insecurity, optimism, pessimism, judging, fear, trust.
In a sense, a negative mindset is like an invisible micro-manager that tells us how to perceive and react to the things we experience in our life. This negative mindset may include constant comparisons, blaming others, or even blaming ourselves so that we stagnate or grow bitter. While a positive mindset is like our biggest fan and cheerleader, inspiring us to get back up and make the most of what lies before us. What type of mindset does Heather Dornidan demonstrate? Who is Heather Dornidan? Take a look at this.
The great news is that we don’t need to keep the same mindset throughout our life. We have the ability to change what we believe and how we let those beliefs dictate our view of ourselves, others, and life’s circumstances. Brain science is now confirming what the Bible has told us all along - we have more control over our thoughts than we ever imagined. We have the ability to change the way we think about the circumstances of life... which can change the way we actually feel about the circumstances of life... which eventually changes the way we engage with others and how we respond to the circumstances of life.
Philippians 4:8 - And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Romans 12:2 - Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
This week start a running gratitude list and write down at least one observation, experience, or interaction you are thankful for each day.
When you face a challenge or disappointment, ask yourself, “What did I learn from this?” Write it down - in your journal, or write it on a sticky note and put it where you can see it for at least a few days... make sure it has a positive spin that inspires you.
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