This is another full week for me and so I’ve opted to review and refresh a blog about mindset I wrote way back in January 2016. Back then I was in a very different place to where I am now; still focussed on working with the NHS, still in a relationship, still not very happy but not realising it. Therefore, I find it interesting reviewing some of my former blogs and realising that I was talking about things like mindset even if I didn’t realise it.
I’ll come back to the present towards the end of this but, in the meantime here’s what I wrote at the beginning of 2016:
I know some senior NHS leaders who are great managers. They balance the books, meet the targets and are a safe pair of hands at the wheel. That’s what they do. That’s what they’ve always done. Perfect!
Thing is that they’re not particularly inclined towards changing things. They don’t do transformation; they keep things even. Transformation is messy. It creates choppy waters. You can’t guarantee that the targets will be met. Keep things constant and patient care, by everything that can be measured, will be assessed as good.
However, the world around them is changing. Doing what you’ve always done is no longer a way to guarantee that things can be managed. And so, these managers are finding themselves in new waters that they don’t feel confident navigating. Many are trying to adapt but seem awkward and out of place. They revert to that cautious safe pair of hands approach and often shut down the creative, transformative work that is beginning to take place.
What’s going on with them I wonder?
Are they unable to change? Have they been fantastic managers because that’s the way they are? Were they created with the correct personality type, to crave order, system and processes? Perhaps, they’ve just been telling themselves for so long that their approach is the right one, that they are cautious and risk averse, that they find it difficult to see themselves any other way?
I find this very plausible. I often hear people telling others about the type of person they are. They wear their traits like a badge of honour – “I’m creative so hate any kind of order”, “I like order and process so am reliable”, “I can never do that because I’m this”. But what if this isn’t a badge of honour?
When we tell others about ourselves we’re also telling ourselves, reinforcing our self-perceptions. Does this limit our capacity to change and adapt who we are? What stories do we tell ourselves about who we are that keeps us acting a certain way?
I wonder what would happen if those excellent managers that are now struggling in unfamiliar seas changed their stories; how open to change could they become? I wonder what stories we all tell ourselves about ourselves and what would be possible if they were different?