A horse and cart doesn’t work well when the cart is before the horse. And your mindset and your actions are like a horse and a cart…
If you’re like most leaders, you sometimes overlook the fact that your performance is sub-optimal because you jump into taking action without first creating an effective mindset.
The more effective your mindset, the more productive your action. And here’s an important bit…the more action that’s required, the more important is an effective mindset. How come?
Your mindset is like the rudder on an ocean liner—A small adjustment to the rudder at the start of the voyage will have a tremendous impact on the success of the ship reaching its intended destination. Similarly, a tweaking of your mindset at the outset will have a tremendous impact on how effective your actions will be.
Let’s look at that a little more closely…
An Overwhelmed Leader
Sometimes you absolutely know that the time it’ll take you to complete the items on your To Do List will far surpass the time you have available.
A leader I coach spoke about this situation a few weeks ago. Karen (not her real name) was overwhelmed and somewhat anxious because of the length of her To Do List and the limited time that she had available before the deadlines began to hit.
She was eager to get started on her highest priority item—producing and presenting a comprehensive report on an issue she was committed to supporting. However as she described her approach, it was obvious that she was anticipating a struggle, both in producing her report and in her audience being difficult during her presentation. She was struggling with what to include and what to exclude in her report, and then what her audience might object to, disagree with or push back on.
She was clearly anxious about the task in front of her.
Karen believed that only effort would remove this anxious feeling she had!
She had her cart well and truly positioned in front of her horse! She was putting all her energy into quickly taking action—without first grooming her mindset.
Superb Performance Needs a Superb Mindset!
Karen knew that her anxious mindset was a long way from ideal. The question was, what could she do about it? Interestingly, some of these seemingly complex issues are actually really simple…
All anxiety has a single, common cause!
We become anxious when we imagine what we DON’T want to happen happening!
Which was exactly what Karen was doing.
Karen and I spoke about the cart and the horse, and getting the two in the right order.
We talked about her ideal outcome—what that would look like. We talked about how she wanted the information for her report to come together easily—how the entire process would just flow. And we talked about how she wanted to present such that her audience was highly receptive to her message.
Once Karen tweaked her mindset by shifting her focus to her ideal outcomes, her anxiety abated and the entire process did flow for her. As well, her audience was enthusiastic both during and after her presentation.
When you carefully groom your horse, when you vigilantly manage your mindset, you’ll create an easier, more productive flow in your interactions and in your actions. And you’ll be a higher performing leader.
Your Leadership Call to Action
Before taking any action, be sure to first set your rudder on the correct course by getting your mindset sorted.
During the next two weeks, ask yourself…
- Where and when has an anxious, unproductive mindset crept into my thinking?
- What isn’t flowing as well as I’d like it to right now?
- In which areas could my mindset do with grooming?
- What are the ideal outcomes I’ll put my focus on?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.