Suzanne Mercier

Does your Mindset Lead to Success or Sabotage?

Mindset as a major business opportunity has come of age and about time!   I’ve worked in and around mindset for almost 30 years initially in the marketing and advertising space and more recently working with the impact mindset has on performance and success. I know personally and professionally the significant opportunity this opens up for individuals and businesses alike.  If you don’t already, I’d love to help you understand the power, the nature and adaptability of your mindset. Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve posted on the foundations of mindset. Mindset creates your Reality. Time to Take the reins and One Piece of the jigsaw puzzle is NOT reality. Today I’m tackling the big question of whether your mindset is right or wrong. It’s a loaded question because it’s a question that comes from judgement and lack of understanding about how we create our mindset. In the second article of this Mindset series, I used a metaphor to explain the process of eliminating data that is unconsciously classified as unnecessary. I likened all of reality – 11 million bits of information a second – to a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle. After we’ve eliminated what’s irrelevant and doesn’t fit our existing view of reality, we’re left with 1 piece of the puzzle.   We have no idea what reality is as, on the surface of it, we have no way of identifying what the picture is all about. So in essence, the question can’t be whether it’s right or wrong. The question has to be whether it’s useful or not.  The only way to gauge if something is useful is to evaluate it in a context. A hammer is useful, unless you’ve got a screw.   Let’s use an example.  Think of something that you would love to achieve. Typically, I work in the business environment with clients who want more money, or more clients, a bigger pay packet, a clear career path or more opportunities. The process applies equally well to any other area of your life.  Think about what you would really like to achieve and think about it as much detail as possible. So you can see it, you can taste it, you can feel it. The more detail that you have, the more real it will feel and the better able you will be to assess your how supportive your mindset currently is.  Got your picture of what you really want to achieve? Now think about who you need to be; how you need to show up; what do you need to think, feel or do in order to achieve that outcome?  The next step is to say, ‘OK, that’s what I need to get there. Where am I now in relation to that?’ which involves you assessing your current mindset in relation to what you believe it will take to be successful. ‘How am I showing up, right now? What am I thinking feeling and doing that is creating the results that I’m getting now and which are NOT what I’m looking for in the future.’ The two contrasting perspectives provide the opportunity to identify the gap which could include capabilities, as you might not have these skills and tools you need. What got you here may not get you to the next level. It could be you need to up the ante on your strength and use of power and influence. Perhaps you need a stronger more diverse network. Or it could be that your mindset doesn’t support your success. I get to work with some fabulous business owners, leaders and managers – mostly women. They come to me with a very clear idea of what they want to achieve. They generally have the capabilities to achieve their dream. What typically holds them back is a lack of self confidence.  Self confidence is an outcome of self esteem. Healthy self esteem breeds self confidence. For example, how worthy you might feel you are, the messages you send yourself about the nature of success, yourself in relation to success, how easy success might be to come by, the perceived price of success and the impact of perfectionism on success, all affect how well you’re set up to achieve the outcomes that you’re looking for. A lack of self-confidence can rob you of the inspiration, excitement and motivation you initially experienced when thinking about the difference you’d like to make. Lack of confidence can take away your ability to put ‘failure’ into perspective. It can challenge your ability to navigate both the fast rate of change and the uncertainty that is now normal. So my question to you is ‘Are you set up for success? Or sabotage?’ And are you happy with where you are?

Your Mindset creates your reality. Time to take control!

This year (2020) has been a year unlike any I’ve ever experienced in my many years on this planet! In Australia – the land of contrasts – we’ve had floods and drought in the back end of 2019, the Black Summer of bushfires from June last year through to now and of course a pandemic from February. Without intending to diminish the impact all of these disasters have had on people, communities, wildlife and business, there are positive outcomes as well.   We’ve drawn closer and cared for each other, watching out to make sure our vulnerable people are OK. We’ve smiled more at people we don’t know. We’ve shared resources, creativity and humour. We haven’t let self-isolation or lockdown impact self-expression and the arts. People have come together online to share music, ballet, live readings of plays. My heart soars when I see how our human spirit has found ways to reach out and touch each others’ lives in love and support. There’s no doubt we’re experiencing a watershed moment. Everything we’ve held as constant is thrown up in the air for re-evaluation. We can more easily replace what’s not functioning effectively with new, creative ways of working, interacting, loving and living. Many of us have been asking soul searching questions. Am I happy? Do I find meaning and fulfillment in what’s around me at the moment? Am I spending enough time with people who are important to me? Those kinds of questions.  Questions are emerging around our work choices, whether we’re doing what really lights us up, how to resolve the fair or unfair division of labour in the home. We’re questioning the role business plays in society and its responsibility to give as well as take – genuinely give, not token giving as a marketing tactic. Pre-pandemic, we saw Purpose adopted – and I use that word purposefully – into business. Now we’re seeing more conversations about Purpose needing to guide and align every aspect of business. As an inspiring purpose becomes the organising principle in business, brought alive in every decision and daily action, we’re going to see bigger changes.  I believe women have a major role to play in the changing face of business. The ‘feminine’ values of ensuring wellbeing, inclusion and belonging, empathy, resilience, consultation and collaboration are finally being recognised as pathways to the more measurable business drivers. Research has shown that more women at senior levels significantly impacts bottom line, Return on Investment and Return on Equity as examples. For more women to step up, we need to deeply understand the value we bring, to let go of perfection, to recognise opportunities and feel confident to go for them.  It all starts with mindset. And mindset accounts for 85% of our success in any endeavor. We may have an exciting vision, aligned goals, the willingness to put in lots of hard work and to persist in the face of challenges. Which is positive, right? But it’s not enough.  If your mindset doesn’t support you, you will not achieve the vision in the same way that you could if your mindset was there 100% behind you.  To help more women and those with a naturally feminine approach to take advantage of this watershed moment, I put together a series of seven videos.  One will be released each week. Today, the first video takes a look at mindset and why it’s so powerful. Subsequent videos explore how we create our mindset, identifying whether our mindset supports us or not, exploring how we can change our mindset if it is not 100% behind us, how we can embed those changes and integrate them back into the workplace or any other life context.  Mindset consists of the values, beliefs and attitudes we hold, formed as a result of our life experiences and the way that we’ve interpreted the reality around us. Once a mindset pattern is triggered by an external situation, it drives our behaviour, and therefore the outcomes that we achieve.  In the process of creating our mindset, we essentially eliminate most of what we’re exposed to.  Typically, our mindset is unconscious and we’re unaware of the process that created it. Two things arise from that position.  We think we understand what reality is when, in truth, we haven’t a clue what’s going on. It’s important to recognize that we don’t see reality as it really is because nobody can. And I’ll explain that in the second video.  We think that our mindset is concrete. It’s set in stone. We can’t change it. We now know how powerful our mindset is and how a change in understanding can alter our bodies, improve our performance and set us up for success or failure. My first experience of the power of Mindset was reading ‘The Inner Game of Tennis’ (1974) in my advertising days. The book was about the mental side of peak performance and essentially proposed that the game was won or lost before the players ever got onto the court. Since then, there has been so much scientific research and literature supporting the power of our mind. Norman Doidge talks of ‘The Brain that Changes itself’ introducing the concept of neuroplasticity where in the face of brain damage, peoples’ brains rewired functionality to operate as a whole brain replacing the damaged parts. Bruce Lipton shares the “The Biology of Belief’. He talks of the relatively new field of epigenetic where scientists are now ratifying the power of our interpretation of the external world – based on our beliefs – to impact our health and wellbeing. In her TEDx presentation “Change your Mindset, Change the Game”, Dr. Alia Crum discussed a personal experience of the power of mindset and 3 scientific studies demonstrating that power:  The increased pain relief after thoracic surgery when a doctor delivered the morphine instead of the timed release via computer.  The decrease in body weight, body fat and increase in energy and wellbeing experienced amongst the test group of hotel room attendants simply as a result of being told they were experiencing the daily requirement of exercise to

Is the Queen Bee Syndrome dead?

Ask a group of women whether they enjoy working for another women and the resounding response – in my experience – is NO! This strong and negative response has shown up in face-to-face discussions and in online comments to blogs on the subject. What lies behind these strong responses is an experience of a Queen Bee (or someone else’s story about one). The Queen Bee Syndrome suggests that women in positions of power do not help other women get ahead, and in fact, may even actively keep other women down, contributing to the gender gap. Recent research conducted by Catalyst into High Potentials in the Pipeline suggests that the Queen Bee Syndrome is being overtaken by an increasing number of women who are developing female talent in their organisations. Women are more likely to pay it forward when they have received support to achieve their own career goals. According to the research, 73% of women will develop women coming up the pipeline while only 30% of men will develop women. Given how few women are at the top compared with men, it’s no wonder it’s taking so long to achieve a fair go for women! Heidi Roizen, in her interview at the 2013 Women in Leadership Conference said that women generally like to help each other because we’re wired that way (yes, that’s a stereotype!) and where it is not a zero sum game, they will help each other. In her view, it depends very much on the job. If there are only so many spots for women, they/we will compete with each other tooth and nail to win the role. Zero sum situations eliminate the likelihood of collaboration. However, where that doesn’t exist, we will help each other. How about we expand the pie?  It stands to reason, then, if we can create more opportunities for women and increase the numbers of women at and close to the top of the organisation that more women will help each other. I hope so. What do you think?

Is it time to get out of your own way?

I get in my own way. There I’ve said it. I’ve unintentionally undermined my own opportunities through self-doubt, procrastination, distraction. active sabotage and various other techniques I’ve perfected over the years. It’s a strange expression isn’t it. How can I get in my own way? I’m right here in this body. I can’t be in two places at once! That’s true. What’s also true is that we have amazingly powerful minds. I can see a situation play out : it feels real. I’m there in a flash. I don’t even go through the stages any more. I skip straight to the proverbial last page. The scenario is usually fear based. I’d better not do XYZ because I know how it turns out. While other people may push through in spite of the fear, my response – and that of a majority of women and some men – is then to pull back. I have, in the past, totally tripped myself up. I allowed an imagined situation to play out with disastrous consequences and then I acted as if it was real. I stepped back from opportunities I logically knew I could handle. I believed what others told me, giving their opinions greater validity than my own intuition. I allowed others to define who I am. At various stages in my life, I took everything personally as though all the challenges in the universe were put there just for me to deal with while others got a much easier ride (or so I thought). I said yes to situations I really didn’t want to get involved with and then resented the other person for asking. I kept my ‘little Spanish girl’ (the opposite to English and stitched up) firmly locked up, rarely allowing her to come out and tell it like it is, stamp her feet in temper, dance like crazy and live a passionate life. I could go on … and I think you get the picture. I lived a much smaller life than I could have if I had dared more; if I had got out of my own way. My prevailing view through so much of my life was – and I say it consciously – I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t measure up to other people and to their positively distorted views of me. In my darkest moments, I would rail at the universe demanding to know when I would be enough. The answer wasn’t out there. I finally realised I was creating everything: the good, the bad and the ugly. I created my own reality. And I was interpreting the world through a pair of glasses that eliminated all evidence that I actually was good enough. Each of us has an amazing and unique combination of talents, skills, capabilities and qualities. No-one else can do what we do in the way we do it. And when we take responsibility for the whole of our reality, we can operate – consciously at first – from the space of who we are, not the material outcomes we want from life. Getting out of our own way is a journey to ourselves; a journey of acceptance for all the gifts and the imperfections we bring. Yes, the journey can be challenging. Realising we’ve been undermining our own opportunities, hopes and dreams can feel extremely uncomfortable. Doing the work that helps us identify the blueprint we have for life and rewiring it can feel liberating. So, do you sabotage yourself? How do you get in your own way? And what has it cost you? Do you remember – or have you ever heard of – the movie Network? Peter Finch played the role of a washed up anchor on a fictional tv station, UBS, during the depression. From the movie, there are two lines that became an anthem for people feeling helpless and frustrated with the way things were. It’s the catch cry for change. “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!” If you’re tired of sabotaging yourself and living a smaller life than you could if you believed in yourself and felt you are good enough; if you have a dream you’re not getting any closer to, maybe you are mad enough to make the change? The path to getting out of your own way involves recognising you are enough, there is enough and you have enough to do what you need and want to in order to experience life at its fullest. The journey includes reclaiming and valuing you, recognising and challenging your patterned thinking and beliefs where they undermine you, rewiring your neurology to develop greater resilience and optimism, taking full responsibility for the world you have created and can create, even if you don’t fully understand what that means yet. The journey involves a commitment to you and participation in the greatest change programme there is – changing your mind about yourself! If you’re mad as hell that you’ve denied who you are, that you’ve held yourself back and finally you’ve had enough, it may be time to get out of your own way. Visit my website and my February/March public programme Skirting Leadership or Open to Possibilities.