The Mindset Dilemma

In today’s highly competitive and divisive world, it no longer works to talk about changing leadership to improve personal and company performance. There are thousands of books, e-books, and YouTube videos that are great, informative, and provide valuable information. However, the issue is that too many people are trapped in fixed mindsets that either enforce a relationship for or against or ignore the material’s potential.

For example, as we enter 2022, there is still raging debate about Covid and how to get rid of it, live with it, or ignore it and hope it goes away. Still, there is minimal discussion around banding together and fighting the enemy with focus, open debate, and trusting science to do what it does best. I believe that the issue lies not in the virus, politics, science, or even religion but instead in how we seem to have adopted so many fixed mindsets, rather than growth mindsets, that we use as both weapons and shields. We so want to belong to a group that we lose our ability to think and reason for ourselves and work together to accomplish great things.

So much that we are faced with today focuses on the massive need for success, fame, wealth, and not missing out on essential functions that we feel would help bring the success or fame that we are striving for in the first place. This is coupled with our desire to brag about our biases rather than examine them and see if they are good or bad for us personally or as part of humanity.

Below are some mindsets that I feel are causing problems for society in general, but they are rampant in businesses and politics worldwide. I hope that we can see a light bulb come on that will open our hearts and minds to seeing the world as a great place where everyone has a chance to be successful, happy, and productive for family, friends, and society free of fixed mindsets and focused on growth mindsets.

1. The Binary Mindset — Computers are logical and methodical because they understand binary thinking. Instruction is either on or off. Each provides a resultant action that can be seen on a screen or other activity. We have a love and hate relationship with computers, we love what they can do for us, but we hate that they are so dogmatic and locked into black or white decision points.

Unfortunately, as humans, we have adopted this mindset all too often. Sometimes we will ignore the complexities of an issue and determine that there is only one way to solve it, and it happens to be my way. This seems to come about because of the uncertainty we have today, and we want things simple, neat, and safe. If I can find a way to have everything go the way I expect it to, I am happy, but it is illogical to assume that everything is one way. Humanity is too creative, diverse, and flexible for this to happen.

2. Social Focused Mindset — Technology has opened a wealth of new ways for us, as humans, to connect, but like every tool that we have, there is an upside and a downside to it. We are exposed to so many different cultures, activities, and knowledge that has been unavailable for previous generations, but with it comes a potentially nasty habit that I call “Group Think.”

I believe this stems from our desire to find the easiest and fastest way to accomplish everything we do, whether personally or at work. When people begin to jump on the bandwagon of someone else’s creation, they have thrown away their ability to think for themselves. This can be driven by friends, family, celebrities, politicians, or anyone who strives to hammer home their views by a fixed “Authoritative Mindset,” which we will discuss later. As with technology, these movements can be positive or negative, so it is critical that you be open to thinking out of the box and deciding what is correct and appropriate for the situation. Remember, promoting group thinking will limit Out of Box Thinking because it may disrupt their plans, desires, and focus.

Another mindset related to this one is the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) mindset, which can be paralyzing if we get caught in its clutches. It leads us to be unable to find satisfaction, comfort, peace, and contentment with what we have because we will never have enough.

3. Egocentric Mindset — When we begin to think egocentrically, it shows that we desire to promote our well-being, wealth, success, and growth without understanding the needs and wants of anyone else around us. We don’t have any room for anyone else’s ideas, thoughts, opinions, or recommendations in this mindset.

This fixed mindset can become the most isolating, frustrating, and harmful to ourselves and those around us because selfishness is embedded deep in our psyches, so it takes much deliberate focus and work to change.

4. Authoritative Mindset — This one can be two-sided. On the one hand, we may focus on demanding action because of our title or authority label if we have authority. We may feel that based on the control we have either been given or taken, we are the only authority to answer questions. Anyone else’s input is useless, false, or disruptive to the group’s good. This mindset builds barriers and walls and limits the activity within that space.

The other side of this one is where we have become captivated by someone we perceive who has authority greater than ours and is working for our best interests, or at least we perceive it that way. This could be a person, politician, school, business, or anything that drives you to think they have the right to call the shots based on our perception of their position, rank, or assignment.

Authority is part of our existence in life, but how we evaluate, follow, use, and empower others will determine positive or negative. If we blindly worship the power, then we will never be able to examine the potential impact on the world in a proper light.

5. Judgmental Mindset — This, in my mind, is one of the deadliest of the fixed mindsets. When we judge everything or everyone based on our moral evaluation, it is usually done in haste and based on our upbringing, education, or culture without objective information. Values and mores are challenging to discuss because they are typically embedded in our subconscious without internally evaluating them in light of our ideas and thoughts. However, finding a moral compass to base our evaluation on is critical. For example, if you value life for everyone, then when faced with someone who feels that someone else has no value, therefore, is expendable, the conflict engine is started, and we must find a way to reconcile the differences or separate ourselves from that group.

A Judgement Mindset is usually from irrational thinking, blocking understanding, truth, and insight about others and processes. This mindset will create silos that inhibit growth and any desire for peace among people.

These represent a few fixed mindsets that can cause us issues, but how do we know we have become snared in a particular attitude and hence lost our ability for free thought. Below are some patterns to look at that may bring about a desire to change:

1. If you feel that failures are terrible and something to be condemned, you may be locked into a fixed mindset. If we identify with a growth mindset, we will not identify failure but rather see it as a learning experience that can be expanded and improved.

2. If we are unwilling to try new things because we may think that the outcome may distort or damage our self-confidence, we may be trapped in a fixed mindset. Fear can be significantly limiting, so trying new things is advantageous when having a growth mindset.

3. When our focus changes to success at all costs, we may be in a fixed mindset.

4. When being successful is hyper-critical, we begin copying ideas and people that are successful instead of trying new things that we have thought of or created. This could mean we are in a fixed mindset.

5. When we begin to read all the shortcuts and hacks possible, but we can’t find ourselves able to emulate any of those or progress much, we may be in a fixed mindset.

6. When we search for only external approval of everything we do, we are in a fixed mindset.

7. When our actions focus on looking good in front of others rather than creating value, we may be in a fixed mindset. If we can look at the progress we are making and be content with that growth; we have a growth mindset.

8. When our focus is more on our problems than on the actions that need to be taken to achieve our goals, we may be in a fixed mindset. Being able to pick ourselves up after a failure indicates that we are in a growth mindset.

In summary, having the best mindsets is critical to building our careers, society and overcoming the monumental problems we face today. However, mindsets require dealing with biases, external pressures, and focusing on the good of all people. They need honesty, trust, willingness, and above all, open-mindedness. If we genuinely want to overcome our prejudices, problems and have a sustainable world for future generations, then the time to act is now.

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Ron McIntyre

Ron McIntyre

Ron McIntyre is a Leadership Anthropologist, Author, and Consultant, who, in semi-retirement, is looking to help people who really want to make a difference.