Does Mindset effect performance?

The state of mind is constantly fluctuating between what I call ‘maintenance’  thinking/activity and ‘breakthrough’ thinking/activity.

Maintenance thinking mindset is all about the business as usual tasks and activities that keep us from getting into ‘organization jail.’ This sort of thinking/mindset is all about taking care of the little things…making sure that meeting is on schedule, making sure you submit minutes soon after the meeting, taking care of that customer issue that landed on your desk, attending the seminar on blah blah blah and on and on…

Breakthrough thinking mindset is that sliver of the daily thinking and doing that focuses us on the truly high value tasks and activities…the long range, bigger and more significant pay-off activities that we seldom get our minds to work on. The ‘breakthrough’ mindset/thinking focuses on the bigger picture…how can we improve the overall product cycle such that we are getting our designs from concept to production quicker than our best competitor? How can we ensure that our share of repeat business form existing customers grows exponentially year over year (add percentage target here), how can we improve our product quality such that we attain the number one spot for product quality as measured by (add national/global quality award agency name here)…and on and on…

The challenge in mental mastery over one’s preferred ‘mindset’ is to ensure that we are constantly working towards increasing the share of mind we invest on Breakthrough thinking/mindset and consistently reducing the share of mind we are investing in the ‘Maintenance’ mindset…those business as usual, mundane things we obsess over every day…

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Distraction and Mental Mastery (my preferred expression over Mindset which seems to be a fixed, unmoving concept) cannot co-exist.
I am not suggesting therefore that we all need to become ‘Zen masters’ but there is a need to recognize and differentiate between the seemingly ‘Urgent’ and the truly ‘Important’ distractions we face on a daily basis.

Here are three points that may help you gain better Mental Mastery:

1. You are face to face in a discussion/meeting, and the phone rings – what should you do?
I can tell you what we typically do (at least 9 out of ten times) – we pick up the phone?

To me, we have just allowed a seemingly urgent distraction to interrupt an ‘truly Important’ activity (the face to face meeting we were engaged in). Let the phone ring – you achieve two things:
a. you signal to the individual you are in a meeting with that you value his/her presence and time and,
b. you screen out a seemingly urgent distraction while allowing yourself to stay focused on a truly important activity.

2. Mental Mastery and being in the moment. There is an innate desire within all of us to ‘cheat’ and try and do many things at the same time. We are quick to boast how good we are at ‘multitasking’ however I challenge you to review the last few outputs you have achieved as a result of ‘multitasking.’ Chances are you will find that the overall quality of your output has suffered and there are defects or inconsistencies that you are  typically able to identify and address, when not in ‘multitasking’ mode.

Get into the practice of being totally connected to the (present) moment. If you are on a conference call, drop everything else and be totally connected in the moment (duration of the call)…actively listen, participate, take notes as you routinely do without allowing any other distractions to interrupt your concentration.

If you have a task or project that has just been allocated to you – review your existing projects and tasks to verify priorities and ensure you schedule an appropriate time to work on or complete the new project.
We sometimes have a tendency to put things out of our mind because we feel we will eventually ‘come around to it.’
That is a sure-fire way to let your environment take control over your mental state – rather than your mental state taking mastery over your environment.

3. Take the time to just… breathe!
There are volumes to be read about the value of breathing and meditation and I am no expert on either subject topic, but I have learned over the years that most of us are typically not breathing correctly or consistently enough, which could cause a plethora of real (and sometimes serious) health and fitness issues.

Get into the practice of spending a few moments each hour, where you simply focus your entire inner self on the process of breathing. Take in deep breaths and hold, before exhaling fully and repeating the process (your stomach/diaphragm area should concave and convex proportionately. I am talking Five Minutes or less on this activity.

Keep yourself appropriately hydrated (remember too much water can play havoc with your bodily salt requirements) so everything in proportion.
Exercise mentally and physically and maintain a good Intellectual/aerobic/muscle tone regimen.

If you can stay focused on some of the above suggestions you should be seeing and feeling more mastery over your mind than you have ever felt before!

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Ask yourself: (6 way test)
1. Can I Influence this situation in a positive manner?
2. Can I do so without the blessing or approval of My Superiors?
3. Can I take actions that will make a positive impact on the situation, even though that may mean some additional effort on my part?
4. What have I achieved over the last few days, weeks or months in just thinking negatively about the situation?
5. Whatever action I am contemplating – is it the right thing to do (or am I just doing the ‘right’ thing?)
6. Am I willing to take the responsibility for any fall-out that may come out of the positive actions I am considering?

If you can answer positively to the above 6 questions you should be well on your way to mental mastery over almost any curve-ball life throws at you…

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There are a lot of comments (in this article thread) that allude to Dr. Stephen Covey’s teachings – and some tend to isolate a specific thought, idea or theory that Dr. Covey may have included in his great body of work, which however, which however needs to be taken from a ‘gestalt’ perspective – you see the body of Dr. Covey’s teachings make the most sense when considered to be part of the overarching principles that he has laid out in his seminal work ” The Seven Habits of Highly Effective people.”

As a Certified Facilitator of The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People Program, I can attest that while there is always great significance and depth in what Dr. Covey has to say, the greatest understanding and value comes out of taking his teachings in a holistic context – that is to say, each lesson builds on the overarching gestalt that I have alluded to in the be ginning of this comment. I would suggest that it is difficult to quote any singe thought or guidance from Dr. Covey, without the need to associate that thought with his overall teachings…to do so would detract from the very essence of following the principles he has tried to underscore in his prolific body of work…and borders on creating opportunities for misinterpretation and confusion w.r.t his principles.

That’s just me…

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