If you’ve followed any of my Posts, Podcasts or Video Casts, you’ve read and heard me refer to the importance of the mindset regarding individual choice or change. I meet with many leaders on a regular basis and I’m pretty adept at discerning where their mindset is in terms of why they think they’re at a certain place in their life and whether or not they know who they really are. When I visit with some of these leaders (and I do with many), I listen more than I talk because, if I’m going to help them, I have to understand what their mindset is. If I’m going to be able to re-direct their focus quickly, then I have to know where they’re at. I need to know the answer to two questions: Why are you here? and Do you know who you are? My Video Cast for Leaders posted this week was titled The Power of Encouragement. One of the things I talked about was the mindset of encouragement that starts with how the best leaders are able to encourage themselves in order to encourage others. In short, they choose to start their day with whatever really gets their spirit lifted and their mindset focused on seeing the very best of the day as it evolves. I’ll share here the links of two video clips that I generally start each day with; one with ultimate laughter that just moves me to tears, and one of faith that also moves me to tears. I always feel so uplifted that it bleeds over into the rest of the day. However, I interact with far too many individuals, who suffer from an affliction that is rampant across our society right now. It’s the tendency to play the victim or to blame someone else for what’s happening. We’re all seeing it daily, especially at the highest levels of leadership in this country. In fact, the US was identified in a recent survey as the angriest country on the planet. This is why I focus so quickly and so aggressively on the mindset. It directs the way we think, feel and act. It directs our Attitudes, our Beliefs and our Commitments. This is why (based upon my experience working with a multitude of leaders) I want to recommend 5 mindsets that I feel the best of those leaders have. (1) They understand you always have a choice. Truth Be Told, there are things in life you can control and things you can’t. No one has control over where they were born, their biological sex, how rich or poor their family is, what color their skin is, how tall they are, etc. That’s not to say these things don’t matter. They do and will obviously impact your life in many ways. I’ve written and spoken in the past about how having the name Maxie has impacted mine. So, while you may not be to blame for your situation, you are always responsible for it and for figuring out how to deal with it. No one else can unload the baggage you’re carrying, whatever it may be. This isn’t to say you have to do it all by yourself. You should get help if you need it, but for better or worse, at the end of the day, it’s on you to choose. (2) They Develop A Bias to Act. Most people make plans about the plans they’re planning on planning. The rest of us just show up and get to work. Personally, every great idea I’ve ever had grew out of work itself. Most people approach work and motivation by waiting to be motivated, then they get to work. The problem, however, with motivation is that it’s very sporadic unless you have a bias to act. Some wait around forever expecting it to just fall out of the sky. Others spend all their time and energy looking for ways to motivate themselves so they can finally get to work. I remember when I wrote my first book. All of a sudden, I had people coming up to me daily wanting to introduce me to a friend or family member that had this great idea for a book. I didn’t talk to many at all that hadn’t had the idea for years and just hadn’t acted upon it. What surprised me was that most of those folks thought that the idea was the hard part. In my view, everyone has ideas, so to me, that’s the easy part. But very few people can act on the idea because they think it may be a bad one. So, what happens? The ideas stay ideas. In my view, sometimes, the best idea is to just do something. (3) They Let Go of the Need to Be Right. I interact with some leaders more often than I’d like that let their ego override their decision-making. They constantly analyze even the most basic assumptions about pretty much anything and everyone, constantly challenging others to prove them wrong just so they can be right. Anyone can survive pretty much anything as long as they don’t cling to the need to be right about everything. For myself, I just keep working on being a little less wrong about most things on a regular basis. (4) They Stop Wishing for Different & Start Making a Difference. I found out long ago that you can’t change your current state by spending all your time wishing things were either the same as before, better than now, or different going forward than in the past. The reality is that there will be no going forward as long as you’re in a state of denial about where you’re at, what got you there and what you had to do with it. In other words, if you’re not willing to own reality and start choosing to act, you can wish until the earth cools again and become another statistic in another survey about how many people in the US spend their time alone the majority of the time. That mindset won’t move the needle! (5) They Define Success Internally, Not Externally. This is why I’m so intentional about discovering where someone’s at relative to the question Who are you? I’ve written before about the Impostor Syndrome and how I struggled with it for the majority of my corporate career. I not only believed I didn’t belong or deserve to be where I was; I always worried I was going to be found out as a fraud. I just couldn’t believe that a hillbilly from a town of 300 people in Northeast Arkansas was an officer in the largest company on the planet. The result was I spent entirely too much time trying to please everyone instead of just being who I was. Whatever success I have now is measured entirely based upon a part of my purpose being to prevent as many current and aspiring leaders as possible not to struggle with what they’ve earned, especially because the leader they report to doesn’t encourage instead of taking advantage of them because of it. Truth Be Told, that really makes me angry!