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Five Mindsets That Keep You From Fulfilling Your Potential

While abilities and talent go a long way to determining whether you will achieve the success that you seek, a key determining factor to being able to achieve the life that you want resides in your mindset.

Our mindsets are created by the way we interpret the world around us. Our brains try to make sense of all the information it takes in, which results in certain assumptions and beliefs. Those assumptions and beliefs can either propel us forward, or hold us back.

Here are a few mindsets that I’ve struggled with on my journey, that have at different times in my life held me back from living in alignment with my values and purpose. I’ve by no means completely overcome these, but working on shifting my mindset every day has been helpful to get to a different place in my life that I find much more satisfying.

  • “I’m right, and they’re wrong.”

Our world contains infinite opportunity and possibility. Believing that there is one right answer, and everything else is wrong, closes us off from this vast reality. It limits our ability to grow, learn, and develop. I spent a lot of time trying to convince people that I was right, and today I look back on all the opportunities for learning that I missed out on because I wasn’t looking for them.

Consider trying: if you are feeling that you need to defend your point of view, instead, become curious about the point of view the other person. Ask questions without thinking about what you’re going to say next to prove your point. With practice, you can refine your ability to look at issues from a number of different angles, and collaborate on a solution that works for everyone.

  • “I have to fight to get what I want.”

This is a common mindset for the working world. We’re taught about the need to compete and win. But what if we can help to create an environment where everyone wins? There is a growing mindset that believes in the value of collaboration, rather than competition.

Consider trying: find out what constitutes a win for someone else. Then think of five ways that you can help that person get that win, while getting what you want too. Instead of “either-or”, try thinking about “both-and”.

  • “That’s out of my comfort zone.”

People typically have strong self-protection mechanisms. We want to limit our risk, prevent failure and save ourselves from potential embarrassment, harm or scrutiny. This is completely normal. However, if it is pushed to unhealthy limits, it can keep us from doing, well, just about anything.

Consider trying: Think of times where you tried something new and benefited from it. Write those experiences out in a journal and reread them when you feel doubtful. Do something new and spontaneous once in a while to build up your resiliency for trying new things. Reframe your idea of what failure is. What if I told you that failure is really just an opportunity to learn and grow?

  • “There’s nothing I can do about that.”

Life throws curveballs at us every day. It’s easy to surrender and feel powerless to do anything about the unexpected challenges that we are confronted with.

Consider trying: find what you can control. Even if it’s only your reaction. Find ways to make a difference in the outcome. Every one of us has far more power to determine our future than we think. Sometimes the biggest challenge can be realizing this.

  • “This was my opportunity, and I blew it.”

This was (and still is, sometimes) a big one for me. It’s easy to see our life as a story arc, leading to a climax during which we come through in the big moment and become the hero. But there isn’t just one opportunity. We have the opportunity in every moment to invent and reinvent ourselves. I’ve struck out before. I’ve given bad presentations. I’ve failed to meet others’ expectations. I’ve given my all and come up short. But tomorrow is another day, and there will be other chances. The question is, will you be ready to step into the batter’s box and keep swinging?

Consider trying: treat each moment as a learning experience. Objectively assess where your actions may not have yielded the intended results. Find moments, even in times you came up short, where you might have been on the right track. There are no worthless experiences, if we take the time to learn from them.

As an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, I help aspiring and seasoned leaders gain insights and let go of the elements of their mindsets that may be holding them back, allowing them to unleash their own leadership potential, as well as the potential that exists within their workplaces. Please feel free to contact me at if this is something that interests you.

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