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October 2009
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December 2009

6 Ways to Break Through the Walls in Your Mind

The challenging words Ronald Reagan uttered 22 years ago, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” still echo today, even 20 years after the actual fall of the wall, this week marking the two decade anniversary.  But, who would have guessed then that the “wall” would still exist today for many people in Germany?  That being the “wall in the mind.”  Berlin-wall201

An article by NBC news producer Doug Adams brings to light how many people in Germany, both in the East and the West, are unable to tear the wall down in their minds.  They are locked into the East vs. West mindset where, as Kipling said, “never the twain shall meet.”  All sectors, from media to business to government, still compare the two sides which in and of itself fosters the lagging dividing line between them. 

This particularly clicked in for me after coincidentally visiting the Reagan Presidential Library  over the weekend for a friend’s birthday celebration.  A section of the Berlin wall stands outside the museum and it was pretty surreal glimpsing that piece of history up close.

It got me thinking about the walls we create in our own minds.  How many times have you read an inspiring book, attended a “life-changing” seminar, or heard words that resonated a desire to change deep within you and then a couple of days later things quietly drifted back to the way things were before?  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  We’ve all been there, and often!  

Mindsets are what cause the walls to erect and mindsets are the powerful enforcers that keep them there.  Your mindset is your way of perceiving and interpreting information.  Mindsets are brought about through belief systems, past experience and fear and over time become habit; a strong mindset effects decision-making and action or lack of action. 

So, how do you tear down or break through mindset walls? 

  • Awareness – when you’re aware in the moment, recognizing that you’re up against the wall in your mind, it’s the first step toward chipping away at the pebbles in the wall.  Each time you stop in awareness, you’ll tear down a little more.  And, the awareness separates you from the obstacle or thought that’s holding you back.
  • Freedom of thought – slow down and allow yourself to pass through to the free side of your mind where choices are clear and resistance is a molehill rather than a mountain.  Remind yourself of instances when you’ve been in your free mind. Recall the simplicity.
  • Talk it through – it helps to talk through your process with your trusted circle.  If anything it shines a light on the wall, many times showing it to be much smaller than what you’ve created in your mind.
  • Value your words – when you write down what you desire on the other side of that mindset wall and make a list of what’s keeping you from it, it puts it concrete form giving you items to address like crossing off items on a to-do list.
  • Do the opposite – now that you know what your ‘wall’ consists of, take small actions to change.  Change of behavior over time will change mindsets.  When you come up against the wall of resistance, try a new tact, shakes things up in your routine. 
  • Take baby steps – break the ‘wall’ down into smaller blocks, represented by smaller goals that are easily attainable in short time frames.  And, celebrate each time to you break through each block.

In that same speech, Reagan made reference to a rough scrawl on the wall, which still holds true when comes to breaking down our mindset walls.  It read, “The wall will fall.  Beliefs become reality.” 

Let’s end, and begin, with that mindset!

Don’t Be an Island, Be a Community

“Good leaders know when to follow and when to lead." ~ Bob Proctor, Author & Business Coach  

Recently I spent time in Las Vegas with nearly 200 amazing entrepreneurs and business leaders at a conference led by powerful business coach David Neagle.  And, throughout his teaching he quoted Bob Proctor several times, crediting Proctor as his own mentor and teacher.

“It’s lonely at the top.”  I heard a former boss utter that one day and it left me cold.  But, it got me thinking recently about where that sentiment came from and if it is indeed true.  Was the person who first coined that phrase a good leader?  Does someone with that frame of mind create a moat around themselves, isolating themselves from further growth and therefore from creating a greater impact as a Alone-island leader?

In today’s most effective business language, that of being transparent and partner-minded, the second you think you’re the master of all masters or the singular top of the heap you’ve ceased learning and mostly likely aren’t nearly as effective as you think you are.

The most effective leaders know their own strengths and weaknesses and are confident in reaching out to others whose strengths mirror their own weaknesses.  In other words, they surround themselves with others they can learn from so instead of positioning themselves alone on an island, they are part of a thought-leader community that catapults their leadership value in a meaningful way.
Here are some ways to continue to grow as leaders in your fields:

  • Form a Mastermind Group – meet regularly with like-minded yet complimentary thinkers who will challenge your point of view and offer mind-expanding ideas.  Napoleon Hill in his book “Think and Grow Rich” initiated the concept of the Mastermind principle.  He defined a Mastermind as, “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose…No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind."  I’ve been a part of a Mastermind Group mindset and it’s very powerful.  Here’s a great article on forming a strong Mastermind Group.
  • Develop a team of Advisers – choose people who have been your supporters in the past, who have followed your career and who have skills and knowledge that you lack.  Keep an ongoing relationship with your Advisers, giving them a vested interest in your successes that they “helped” you reach.
  • Find a mentor – someone who is further along than you in your field, someone you greatly admire.  Many of the most successful leaders, especially those at the top of their game, have had mentors along the way who have championed their growth.  And, shoot for the top in looking for your right mentor.  You can find many guidelines on the internet about choosing the right mentor.
  • Hire a coach – find an expert in your field and put them on your own payroll.  They will keep you challenged in an impartial way, where your success is supported in a way that isn’t attached to ego which can sometimes happen in business circles where people might have their own agenda around being associated with you.
  • Be well-rounded – by exploring your own passions you surround yourself by others who share with you your personal affinities, outside of your business life.  Take a class, join an expedition, and volunteer your time.  These communities will nurture you in a whole new way. 

So, remember, don’t be an island as a leader; be a community as a leader.  The best leaders follow other leaders.  And, recognize the mirror in the room, the one being held up for you to see yourself, and the mirror you hold up for others to see themselves.  Therein lies the place of wisdom, transparency, growth and true leadership.