A young man was walking in New York City and approached an older gentleman asking, “Sir, how do I get to Carnegie Hall?”.
The older man responded as he walked away with a smile, “Practice my boy. Practice.”…or so goes the tale.
Like most things in life, if we want to become really good at something, we have to work at it.
In a recent book I’m reading titled, “Talent is Overrated” the author, Geoffrey Colvin argues that talent is not necessarily a gift bestowed upon the fortunate but something that is acquired through what he calls, deliberate practice.
Hard work, independent learning, pushing on through painful experiences, rigorous effort, receiving coaching and so on, is what is needed to train ourselves to achieve greatness in our job, a task, a profession or a life pursuit.
When it comes to learning how to build a strong mindset, I have realized that this too requires deliberate practice.
Learning to build a strong mindset is crucial these days as we encounter a sudden change in our work, our relationship or in our life. It will be a strong mindset that will get us through a challenge, not money.
How do I define “strong”?
-Confident (not arrogant)
-Able to take on challenges
-Successfully achieve goals
“It will not be power, influence or the money in your pocket that will help you create a fulfilling life. It will be your strong mindset.”
How do we build a strong mindset?
Here are 4 traits which play a role in helping us build a strong mindset:
1. A strong mindset requires us to have powerful, vibrant and encouraging thoughts that are created by the self.
We need to pro-actively choose to put into our head each and everyday the ideas, the thoughts and the emotion attached to it to be in the state of mind we wish to ascertain.
If we want to be productive at work, then we need to give our mind the freedom from distractions by feeding nurturing ideas. Giving commands that will make our body move towards doing the work.
If we don’t choose the thoughts we want, we will find ourselves reacting to those thoughts fed by others. Those around us. Media, whispers and the overthinking mind.
Tip: Instead of starting the day thinking, “oh man, it’s going to be a rough day.”say, “I am going to make it a great day.” and smile along with it. Even if it sounds silly at first. Just do it over the course of a couple of weeks and you’ll start noticing how much of a better day you’ll have.
My sister puts these tiny little notes to herself on her mirror in the bathroom each night. “I am going to be charming to my customers today” is one such example. Reading it the next morning and reciting it helps her to be centered into a place where her mindset is helping her and not holding her back from pursuing greatness.
2. A strong mindset requires a healthy physical body
Hunched shoulders inhibit us from getting enough oxygen into our lungs. Ever see someone slouching who is always so down on themselves? Wonder why. By standing up straight and breathing deeply, we allow fresh air to get into our body creating nourishing new cells which make their way up to our brain filling it with the rich nutrients of possibilities.
Dependency on outside substances such as caffeine can also cloud our thinking even though for a brief time span of an hour we feel great. After giving up coffee, I realized how much it was feeding my stress. While the morning boost was helpful, it was not long lasting. So I started exercising in the morning to find a way to boost my energy. At first, it was difficult but I got used to it running, walking a bit here and there. Now, daily exercise (even if it’s only 20 minutes) has become a must.
Nourishing foods, 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep and rest after strenuous work contribute to creating a strong mindset capable of tackling the toughest challenges. Some of the worst decisions I have made have been when I have been on 5 hours of sleep. With kids, a long commute to work and a busy schedule, getting 8 hours sleep is a luxury. But I’ve realized that what inhibits me from getting good sleep is the TV! Having a long and rough day, my mind deludes me into thinking that I somehow deserve to watch mindless television shows until midnight to make up for the crazy day I’ve had. Wrong! If we really want to reward ourselves, we need to give our body sleep. There’s nothing better for a strong mindset in the morning when you’ve slept 7-8 hours.
3. A strong mindset is built on knowledge, understanding things deeply and then applying it
One of the greatest gifts of today is that the lessons of successes, happiness and failures are synthesized into a book written by some of the greatest thinkers and doers throughout history available to anyone, anywhere at the tap of a button.
Reading books, blogs, stories, essays and magazines have given me so much knowledge and understanding of the human condition. Books have made a remarkable contribution to the depth of understanding of my own life and what is possible.
Stretching the brain with knowledge and asking questions to the self contribute greatly towards a practice of building a strong mindset. And applying that knowledge in a useful way makes it even more powerful.
For example, I’m a fairly good public speaker but I wanted to be an even better one. So I signed up for a 3-4 day class with Brian Tracy, one of the best selling authors, business gurus and motivational speakers in the world.
I took time off from my job, away from my family and committed to immersing myself into his speaking academy. Coming back home, I felt exhausted because it was hard but a worthwhile course. The binder from the course went up on my shelf. Until two weeks later, I decided that I would open it up again to help me prepare for a keynote speech I was giving in a few weeks time.
I dug deep into the Brian Tracy’s materials and threw myself into applying his learning. I wrote out by hand over and over again what I was thinking, learning and was likely going to deliver as my message.
I delivered the speech successfully to 350 people recently (here’s the YouTube video) and felt great. Having a binder with valuable knowledge buried in its pages is useless unless we use it to make a difference in our lives.
Those with a strong mindset build a foundation of knowledge by reading, understanding and thoughtfully applying our learning to further our life pursuits.
“Knowledge is power.” -Francis Bacon
4. Self-Discipline, Self-Control
Delaying short term gratification for long term happiness is paramount for success in so many areas of life. Ask any successful person in any field if success was truly ‘overnight’.
There’s simply no such thing as overnight success. It takes self-discipline and self-control to stay focused and continue working hard while distractions abound. Incredible self-discipline requires us to make sacrifices that short term thinkers may not be willing to do. Athletes who train during the off season, kids who take a summer class for the heck of it, college students who take an unpaid summer internship, a young career professional who forgoes the party to help her boss late one evening or a struggling author who spends years writing a book with no payment.
An individual with a strong mindset forces their inner nature to take a course that is longer, often sacrificing pleasures of the present.
When I was in college, I would often forgo parties that most of my friends went to all over campus. I was dirt poor and was working at my family’s business almost each night in order to pay for my college tuition. If I hadn’t forced myself to work when I needed to and study when I needed to, I would never have graduated college. Looking back, it seems like a no brainer but often when we’re confronted with choices that test our will, we don’t consider the longer term implications of our decision.
Tip: Set time intervals to check on emails, facebook, linkedin, etc. Don’t just refresh every minute but do it at set times (e.g. 10am, 12pm, 4pm, 6pm…something like that). You’ll be glad to have so much more time on the really important stuff.
“With self-discipline, almost anything is possible.” -Theodore Roosevelt
I believe that by building a strong mindset, we can accomplish any goal, achieve great success and become truly happy in our life.
It begins with understanding that…a strong mindset is not born but created through deliberate practice.
Bob Miglani, Author of Embrace the Chaos