Wrapping up our theme on creating a change-mindset, let’s take a look at an example of how examining the words we use, the stories we tell, and our current mindset can help us to more intentionally facilitate our change.
An opportunity for change.
Meet Tabitha, who was recently laid off from her job - the third time in the past two years - and has decided to try her hand at independent consulting.
Tabitha had been thinking about making this change for some time, but she could never quite get past the fear of selling her services to others, preferring instead to work in the stable and predictable environment her 9-5 jobs provided. That stability and predictability, however, seemed to be more a thing of the past, so Tabitha decided that the time was right to try something new.
“If I’m going to make this work, I have to overcome my fear of selling.” Tabitha declared, and so began her journey of identifying her current mindset, and shifting it to more closely align with her desired change.
First things first: How do I want to feel?
“Hmmm. How do I want to feel when everything’s up and running?” Tabitha asked herself. Here is what came to mind:
I want to feel:
Step 2. Word find.
Once aware of the basics of how she wanted to feel when her change had happened, Tabitha started paying attention to her current frame of mind. Before long, she noticed three words that suggested a potential disconnect between her desires and her current thinking:
Tabitha noticed these words popped up frequently in a variety of contexts, and so she decided to find alternative ways to say what she meant that more closely reflected the way she wanted to feel:
For afraid, Tabitha chose the word confident, “I’m confident I can figure that out with some time and effort.” She also saw opportunities for removing the word all together, “I’m out of ketchup.”, “I think I left the door unlocked.”
Whenever possible, she replaced “I can’t” with “I can”, “It might take a minute but I’m sure I can remember the name of that book.”, “That email hasn’t arrived yet, but I can call them to find out why."
Tabitha realized that many of the times she used the words lost or loss, she could just as easily have remained silent. However, when it made sense to do so, she planned to use the words found or gain as alternatives, “what can be gained from this experience?”, “I’m sure my keys are right in front of me, just waiting to be found.”
As Tabitha became more attuned to her use of counter-productive words, it became easier to notice and replace them with more empowering words in the moment.
Step 3: Story telling.
Tabitha also noticed that she was telling stories about her new adventure in a slightly defeatist light. For example, she noticed herself telling an acquaintance, “Yes, it’s a big step. Maybe too big of a step. I’m not sure if I’m ready for it, but right now, I have no other option.”
She decided that this just wasn’t going to do if she wanted to feel confident and upbeat about her choice to go independent. So she practiced another approach, “I am super excited to put all of my experiences from working in a corporation to work on my own business. The time is right and I’m jazzed about giving it a go.”
Tabitha found that by practicing some of the stories she expected to tell others about her experience, the more they became a part of the stories she told herself.
Step 4: Changing our minds.
After identifying the words and stories that most closely represented Tabitha’s desires with regards to her change, she knew that these things alone wouldn’t resolve her issues around selling.
So she got to work on better understanding her mindset around sales with the hope of finding a new, more fitting approach. Referencing the Mindset Feedback Loop, here’s what she found:
Experiences: When I was a Girl Scout, going door-to-door to sell cookies, even though people were friendly, not many were interested in buying cookies. My best friend Arlene sold the most from our troop, also going door-to-door. Plus, that one lady gave me a big lecture about how I should be ashamed to ask people for money.
Perceptions: I’m not very good at selling. Other people are better at it than I am. Selling is bad and people who try to get others to buy from them are users who should be ashamed of themselves.
Beliefs: Selling is hard. Good people don’t try to sell to others.
Behaviors: Apologize when asking people to buy something, low confidence, dread whenever I’ve been tasked with asking people to buy or contribute financially to something. Sweaty palms, high anxiety, shaky voice.
Experiences: The only people who have said yes when I’ve tried to sell something to them are good friends or family members. When I worked as a canvasser during college, I was politely shown the door because I couldn’t meet my contribution quota.
Perceptions: Yep, I’m bad at selling. Other people are much better at it than I am, and they don’t even seem to have to try!
Beliefs: Selling sucks. If there is a hell, it’s where I am in a position of having to sell to others.
Behaviors: Avoidance. At all costs.
Experiences: When my boss suggested I take a sales course, I had such a panic attack that she asked my colleague to go instead.
Perceptions: Others agree that I’m not good at selling and are willing to work around it. I miss opportunities because of my fears.
And so on…
This was quite an eye-opening experience for Tabitha. She knew she didn’t enjoy selling, and, was very aware of her avoidance tendencies, but that original experience of selling cookies and being shamed was something she hadn’t thought about for ages!
Alarmed by the deeply ingrained beliefs about her lack of ability, and how important making a shift was to her success in her new venture, Tabitha once again used the Mindset Feedback Loop to attempt to shift her thinking around this topic. Here is a glimpse of what that looked like:
Beliefs: Selling is bad. Shifted to Selling is good.
Behaviors: Positive and confident when selling my business services to others.
Experiences: People who have an interest in the services I have to offer respond positively to me. If they don’t have an interest, that’s okay. Why waste their time or mine? I move on to those who are interested.
Perceptions: Selling is just a part of business, it’s not anything to be worried about or afraid of, so I treat it as something I do as a business owner, and throw all of that previous baggage out the window.
If people aren’t interested in my offerings, that’s totally fine. It’s nothing personal, and it saves me time when they tell me up front. Even if they’re rude, that’s their problem, not mine. Focusing on the needs of the business helps me to keep that at the forefront.
Beliefs: Selling is a part of business, and I am a successful business woman!
Behaviors: Continued confidence, clearly enjoying all aspects of my work, especially the selling!
Experiences: Increased sales and lots of return business which makes selling even easier.
Perceptions: This is a piece of cake, and fun too!
Tabitha continued to work through other deeply held beliefs whenever they arose, which, especially at the beginning stages of building her business, occurred frequently.
With time, however, more and more of her experiences mirrored those she had created as a part of her mindset shifting endeavors. This created positive perceptions and behaviors leading to more positive experiences.
It all boils down to intention and choice.
Creating a mindset for change CAN be done, but it takes time, effort, and an openness and willingness to take an honest look at ourselves, in order to see how 'what is' could be contributing to current or potential roadblocks to our desired change.
But it’s hard to see these roadblocks if we don’t first take the time to be intentional with our change and transition.
Being intentional requires a vision for our change, which then helps us to identify any gaps between our current and preferred mindset.
Working to reduce or eliminate those gaps becomes a part of our transition process, so that by the time our change has occurred, we feel aligned with it.
Yet sometimes we don’t feel like being intentional, choosing instead to go with the flow. This is perfectly fine, as long as we do so by choice.
It’s when we blindly transition to change that we are most likely to encounter unexpected turbulence, which is in large part created by the delayed adjustment of our mindset to the new normal created by our change.
Being proactive can help prevent this turbulence, and being intentional can speed up our transition process, so when the change is here, we’re ready.
Next week, a look at distractions and disruptions.
Enjoy your weekend, and if you’re in the U.S., have a happy Labor Day too! With the four-day work week next week, we'll take a look at the differences between distractions and disruptions and how to minimize and manage them in a way that allows us to stay focused on our transition and change.
Thanks for reading!
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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