7 Mindset Shifts for Thriving Inside and Outside the Workplace in 2021Add bookmark
We can’t know what surprises life will throw at us in 2021. It’s safe to say that the new year will require fresh, new thinking at work and beyond, starting from day one. In that spirit, here are some areas to concentrate on that don’t require investments of money, or going back to school. But they do require a willingness to transcend our traditional mindsets:
- Reframe your problems. Consultant/author/thought leader Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg explores the idea of reframing (which he dates back to Albert Einstein), as a way of gaining new and different perspectives on problems you want to solve, and things you want to achieve. For instance, Wedell-Wedellsborg posits that people often have the wrong problem in mind, in their desire to jump to a desired solution. Ask tough questions about the situation, and bring in the perspectives of others, including clients, stakeholders, and other outsiders. Be open to the possibility that sometimes what you think you want is not really what you need.
- Practice practical gratitude. Many people give the well-meaning advice that everyone should practice more gratitude, especially in today’s perilous times. Yet that is not always easy. The following quote by social media star/consultant/thought leader) Lolly Daskal expresses the idea in a powerful nutshell: “Remember that someone desperately wishes they had the things that you take for granted.”
- Move beyond buzzwords. Besides gratitude, we’ve heard a lot recently about important concepts such as (to name merely a few) communication, innovation, creativity, listening, empathy, psychological safety, and diversity & inclusion. Our challenge in 2021 is to transform these concepts into daily action, and make them part of our regular thinking patterns, so that they go beyond buzzword status into true ways of being and living. Sometimes that means studying these concepts in more depth, by reading books such as in consultant/author La’Wana Harris’ Diversity Beyond Lip Service: A Coaching Guide for Challenging Bias (2019), and Harvard Business School professor/author Amy C. Edmondson’s The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth (2018).
- Get confident about persuasion and ‘selling’ your ideas. If you are serious about making communication more than a buzzword, check out the ideas of author and master communicator Rob Jolles, particularly in his provocatively-titled 2018 book Why People Don’t Believe You. It fits in well with related books about these concepts, aimed at readers who may or may not be directly involved in sales or marketing, such as Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others; G. Richard Shell’s The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas; and Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. In an era where the emphasis is on intellectual property, intangible assets, and human capital, success increasingly depends upon the manner in which we speak (not just what we say), how we negotiate, how we interact with others, and how we persuade.
- Develop and nurture a strong and vital support system. The entrepreneur/author Chip Conley’s 2018 book Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder contains something quite instructive and interesting in the Acknowledgments section, in which he thanks people in his vast and intricate support system. A valuable way to approach the new year is to construct, cultivate, and maintain your own support system, inside and outside the workplace. This requires little if any spending of money, but it does mean spending time and attention, two other precious forms of currency.
- Cultivate the R&D lab inside your mind. In science writer Pagan Kennedy's 2016 book Inventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World, she writes about the concept of ‘mental time-travel’ to the future, as an aid to inventing. In Chapter 10, “The Mind’s R&D Lab,” she provides prompts for this activity and states the following: “You will notice that as you begin working out the details of your future, you are telling a story. The R&D lab inside our minds has a highly narrative quality to it. If you’re inventing a futuristic machine, you have to tell a story about the people who will use it: Where do they live? What are they worried about? What do they desire?”
- Access your inner wisdom. The Israeli psychologist/professor/consultant Michael Bar-Eli’s Boost! How the Psychology of Sports Can Enhance your Performance in Management and Work (2017), is his first book for a general audience. Based on his research and examples, he writes that whether you are involved in sports, business, or other endeavors, “sometimes you have to act quickly, sometimes more slowly, and sometimes not at all. Developing the inner wisdom to distinguish the difference is a life’s work.”
The above mindsets are not necessarily complicated. But accomplishing them will take focused and ongoing thought and work, and you are unlikely to master any of them completely. Ideally, a year from now, you will look back with satisfaction on your progress making these mindsets a reality in what is likely to be another challenging and competitive year.
Books to read:
- Michael Bar-Eli: Boost! How the Psychology of Sports Can Enhance your Performance in Management and Work (Oxford University Press, 2017)
- Chip Conley: Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder (Currency, 2018)
- Lolly Daskal: The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness (Portfolio, 2017)
- Amy C. Edmondson: The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth (Wiley, 2018)
- La’Wana Harris: Diversity Beyond Lip Service: A Coaching Guide for Challenging Bias (Berrett-Koehler, 2019)
- Rob Jolles: Why People Don’t Believe You (Berrett-Koehler, 2018)
- Pagan Kennedy: Inventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World (Bantam Press, 2016)
- Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg: What's Your Problem? (Harvard Business Review Press, 2020)