Mindset: The stories we tell ourselves – a 2018 reboot

Mindset: The stories we tell ourselves – a 2018 reboot
4th July 2018 Steph
A mindet picture of a woman overlooking a lake at sunrise

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? 

And we’re back in the summer of 2018!

If you’re wondering what happened to those leaders, most of them are still around and most of them are still struggling with the same issues and mindset 18 months later. They still believe they’re a certain type of person and some, I suspect, think that they’re too old to change, or to even want to change. After all, being that way has served them well and therefore, if they did change who’s to say that it wouldn’t all just fall down around their ears?

These are fears I can identify with. I’ve worked in the corporate/public sector environment for most of my adult life. Being a certain way served me well. It was my authentic, true self, but just a fraction of who I was rather than the whole me. I was scared to show the whole me in case it was rejected, in case it was too much, in case it wasn’t effective, in case it failed.

Over the last year I’ve come to realise that mindset wasn’t serving me well. I wasn’t happy, and I knew I could do and give more, but wasn’t finding the opportunities to do it. The working me showed up as a certain person and therefore the work I did was of a certain type that didn’t fulfil and nourish me.

Working on my mindset, focusing on happiness and gratitude, concurrently with changing my mindset to accept that the whole me is amazing and not too much, is bringing so many rewards. I hope that those around me recognise that too.

It hasn’t been easy, and I’ve needed the support of some incredible people to help me do it. The mindset work is ongoing, and I recognise that it’ll need regular maintenance. However, as a result, I am a happier, more creative woman with an incredible spectrum of skills and abilities that I am ready to offer to the world.

About Steph Edusei, A New View

I coach women in middle to senior leadership roles who are too busy with competing demands at work and home, trying to do it all and focusing on everyone but themselves.

They feel like they are constantly battling, fear they are not good enough and that they are going to be caught out. They are always busy and never have enough time to do what they need.

With compassion, honesty and a sprinkling of humour, I support them to take back control and step into being a high value leader who is competent and confident, by focusing on the things that really make a difference to create a high-quality life.

For a free 30 minute introductory session (value £87.50) book now

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