There's no question in my mind that doing mindset work is important as a business owner.
I learned that the hard way when I started my first online business a few years ago and thought, ‘That sounds nice, I’ll get into that when I’ve figured everything else out.’ I’ve since learned too, though, that there’s a particular way to look at mindset work within a business context, and as a business activity, that underlines its value.
Mindset work is viewed in different ways in the online space but, when I see it criticised as ineffective, I believe it’s because the term is being used in the wrong context.
In this post, I want to share with you how I think about business mindset work, the context in which I use it and include it as an entrepreneurial leadership development tool, and when I think it’s not the right approach or focus. That way you know what you’re getting from me in my work and programmes, both free and paid, and you can judge, therefore, if that’s what you need, or want, or not!
So let’s dive into some common myths or criticisms of mindset work that might be affecting the way you think about its usefulness for your own development and therefore for your business.
Mindset work tells you what to think
To me, mindset work doesn’t tell you what to think, (if it did, I wouldn’t be up for it either!). It’s a way of thinking that you choose and, in the context of business, it’s a way of thinking that you decide upon to support the action you need to take in your business in order to achieve your business goals.
For example, you get to decide whether everything is working for you in your business, or against you.
You get to decide if your business challenges are opportunities to embrace, or obstacles to fall over.
You get to decide whether you’re going to subscribe to the idea that, if you get visible and share your message online, people are going to judge or ridicule you. Or you get to subscribe to the idea that, if you get visible and share your message online, someone somewhere is going to benefit and therefore it’s worth it.
Deciding everything’s working for you, that challenges are opportunities to embrace and that sharing your message will be worth it even if only one person benefits is a way of thinking - a mindset - that is supportive of action taking in business.
My stance on mindset work in a business context is that it’s work that invites you to look at the way you approach your business, how you think about what happens (or doesn’t happen) as a result of the action you take, and that it's work that enables you to cultivate, manage and maintain a mindset (AKA approach or way of thinking) that is supportive of positive, progressive action.
The shortcut to this that we often see is affirmations. These do have great mindset value, however they are, indeed, shortcuts. I see them as part of the maintenance phase.
Mindset work is an airy-fairy nice-to-do activity that I don’t have time for
I get this, especially because the outputs from mindset work are intangible. Mindset work encourages a way of thinking that enables you to approach action with sustainable and positive energy. It helps you think more clearly, have more trust in your decisions and I get that that can sound woolly.
But you can trace a line from mindset work to tangible outcomes too. For example:
Mindset work helps you think more clearly, therefore you make a decision instead of succumbing to analysis paralysis
You trust yourself to take action on that decision and
You have sustainable and positive energy that allows you to see that decision through until it produces results you can objectively evaluate.
Without mindset work you could trip over any part of that chain.
Maybe you don’t make a decision at all or, if you do, you keep wondering if you could have made a better one, so you stall on taking action.
If you take action, perhaps you’re half-hearted about it, or maybe you easily change course when you see someone else in the online space doing something different.
This indecision and comparison creates tiring internal conflict which reduces your ability to have the stamina to see actions through until they produce results you can objectively evaluate.
It’s mindset work that helps you keep the faith as you walk your business path. It’s a crucial part of business leadership and not airy- fairy at all.
Mindset work is all about thinking positive. For some people that positivity is toxic
I understand this view and believe it goes back to the inaccuracy that mindset work is about slapping affirmations on top of fears, or forcing yourself to believe things that you just don’t think. If you’ve read this far, I hope you see that I don’t believe this to be what mindset work is and it’s certainly not the way I operate it.
In addition, there are situations when mindset work isn’t the solution to the problem you have or the issue you’re facing. This is when I think it’s incumbent upon mindset coaches/mentors/teachers/content creators etc. to be aware of their scope of practice and to be clear about the context in which they’re suggesting mindset work be used.
Mindset work is not a trauma treatment, for example. It’s not an alternative to seeking medical or other professional advice.
My strong appeal to you if you’re a coach, mentor or similar in the helping professions is to know your scope of practice, communicate it clearly and don’t overstep these boundaries.
My appeal to those hiring coaches, mentors or similar is to be clear about why you’re hiring them, what you’re expecting them to be able to help you with and to do your due diligence to check if they have the requisite qualifications, skills and / or experience according to what you need (and, in some cases, according to what’s legally required).
It’s the provider’s work to be clear on their scope of practice - I’ve always said that I have no medical qualifications or background and that none of my work should be used as an alternative to seeking any professional treatment you need - and it’s for the hirer not to seek to use mindset work as a bandaid to avoid having to pursue the right and properly guided solution for them.
Because that could render the work ‘toxic’, and certainly not the help that’s needed.
What do you think about these mindset myths? Have they affected the way you’ve thought about mindset work and therefore the ability for mindset work to help you in your business? How do you define mindset work and what do you do as mindset work?
So many questions! I’d love to know what you think so, as ever, DM me on Instagram - I’m @elleturner_writer
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