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For the past twenty years,  I have been using this story to introduce people to thinking and mindset at conferences. I normally walk on stage and say “I am going to give you a vital lesson on the power of perspective and mindset.” 

I pick up a glass half full with water. As I raise the glass of water over my head, most people expect me to mention the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” metaphor. Instead, I usually say “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

Participants have shouted out answers ranging from a couple of ounces to a couple of pounds to a couple of kgs. After a few moments of allowing people to guess I say,

 “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass is irrelevant. It all depends on how long I hold it.  If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light.  If I hold it for an hour straight,  its weight might make my arm ache. If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor. 

In each case, the absolute weight of the glass doesn’t change but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”

My message is that our worries, frustrations, disappointments and stressful thoughts are very much like this glass of water.

  • Think about them for a little while and nothing drastic happens.
  • Think about them a bit longer and you begin to feel noticeable pain.
  • Obsess about them all day long and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed, incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.

So the moral of the story is ….  choose your mindset!

Because, if you do not consciously adopt a mindset,  then our worries, frustrations, disappointments and stressful thoughts will select one for us. This will allow our brain to dictate when, where and how we think about things and this will drive us in the direction of our thoughts.

Did you know we have 70,000 thoughts a day? 98% of the time the thoughts are coming to the brain automatically, shaping what we think about and setting our mindset and mind mood.

In a situation where there is a bias in our brain which leans towards the principle that ‘bad’ is stronger than ‘good’, will make people drawn to what hurts and to what hurts them most, just like vultures to a carcass.

Our brain  is like Velcro for negativity and Teflon for positivity.

This means that 80 % of our thoughts tend towards negativity, and 95 % of them are repetitive unless we take back control.

We want happiness, and yet we chase our suffering.  (Buddhist saying)

So what is a mindset?

Let’s keep it simple: it’s a way of thinking.

In a few words, mindset is a mental inclination or disposition, frame of mind.

Your mindset is your collection of thoughts and beliefs that shape your thought habits.

And your thought habits affect how you think, what you feel, and what you do.

Your mindset impacts how you make sense of the world, and how you make sense of you.

Your mindset is a big deal.

Because they are related to it, mindset also helps to understand attitude and beliefs, which impact us in situations where

  • we encounter uncertainty and failure
  • we face challenging situations where we worry about how others will perceive us
  • we fail to achieve a specific goal
  • we are trying to manage and overcome discouragement and self-doubt

Our own notions of potential and ability can have a fundamental impact on

  • how we approach our work,
  • how much we learn,
  • and how successful we can be in achieving our goals.

If we succeed at managing our mindset, we are likely to

  • Earn more – three times more in fact on average
  • Be much more successful in our careers and get promoted more
  • Stay longer than others in employment through difficult times
  • In sports, we are likely to achieve higher and more consistent outcomes
  • As Leaders, we will manage to attract great loyalty and commitment from our teams

If you’ve ever had goals and dreams that didn’t come true, you’re not alone.

An incredible 92% of people say that the goals and resolutions they set for themselves each year never get achieved. With stats this high, there must be something in common that’s holding them back.

After studying the 8% who do accomplish their goals, I have some answers about exactly what these high achievers do differently.

It’s important to note that this 8% includes people come from all walks of life.

They can be married, single, or divorced; highly educated or high school dropouts; middle class, wealthy, or even poor by most standards. They are men and women of a variety of ages and ethnicities from all over the world.

The fact is, no matter where you are in life or where you came from, you’ve got the ability to set big goals and achieve them.

Thousands of people in over 80 countries,  stars like Roger Federer, Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Michael Phillips, Oprah Winfrey and other successful people who thrived in business, sports and politics, all tell me that managing that mindset or mental conditioning is what gives them the edge to succeed at what they set out to achieve.

Science shows that some people are born with unique genetic structures, meaning they are initially better than others at different things. However, those with a growth mindset believe that one can always improve, catch up or even surpass others’ natural talents.

That’s where mindset changes everything.

They know, and the research confirms it , that it comes down to 80% mindset and 20% talent. They know that getting the right mindset helps them to perform at their very best and use all the talents and skills they have developed.

So … you have to do something different if you want it to be different. You need to be deliberately cultivating a growth-mindset which will in turn improve your willingness and ability to face challenges and to innovate, despite the risk of failure.

You can be inspired by what is happening around you, but you have to make the change yourself, and one thing is for sure that won’t happen unless you believe it is possible. Change your mindset – change your life!

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