Now, as coaches, we are very familiar with mindset. Many of us incorporate mindset work in our client practice, some of us may even define ourselves as mindset coaches. Mindset can be an integral part of our work as coaches. But today, I want to take a step back. I want to talk a little bit about what mindset is, what it's not, and how it's being used, even misused, in the coaching industry. I'm going to share with you my personal definition of mindset, and the things that I want to focus on when I'm working with my own clients, and when I'm training people to become certified coaches. And of course, I'm gonna want to know what you think about all of this, too. So definitely come find me over on Instagram, I'm @CoachwithClarity. And I would love to hear from you, your thoughts about mindset, and how we talk about it in our work with our clients. So let's start with some basic definitions of mindset. The concept of mindset, or mindset work, really gained popularity around the mid 2000s. So in 2006, Carol Dweck published a book called “Mindset”. And she really revolutionized the way people view their own abilities and how we think about thinking. So in her book, she talks about how mindset is the way a person views their talents and abilities. And that has significant ramifications on their success and on their happiness. So in the book, she suggests that people generally fall into one of two categories: they either have a fixed mindset, or a growth mindset. And her position is that when we cultivate a growth mindset, we open ourselves up to new possibilities and new opportunities. Now, when we're talking about fixed versus growth mindset, I do think it's helpful to view it as a spectrum. So it's not that we have completely a fixed mindset, or completely a growth mindset, we probably fall somewhere in between. And we may even fall at different places on that spectrum regarding different aspects of our talents, skills, and abilities. But Dr. Dweck would argue that a person with a fixed mindset views that those internal qualities are static, or unchanging. You're born with what you got. Versus a growth mindset, which suggests that we can develop or improve our talents, our abilities, and our intelligence. So a growth mindset creates space for some fluidity and some evolution. Now that was literally like my 92nd summary of Dr. Dweck’s book on mindset. Of course, she takes a much more nuanced approach to this. But I do think it's helpful to have a very basic understanding of what she's talking about with mindset, which is how we view our own talents, skills and abilities. I contrasted this perspective of mindset with what we commonly see in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT. In ACT, when we're exploring mindset, there's really two key processes at play. One is involving our thoughts, and one is involving our emotions. So when I think about mindset, I define it as the way in which we relate to our internal experiences. So an internal experience would be a thought, an emotion, a sensation, a memory, something that happens within us that we are very much aware of. But someone on the outside, someone observing us, may not be aware that we're having that experience unless we share it with them. So I can have a thought, you won't know what I'm thinking unless I share it with you. So those internal experiences, and specifically how we view them and how we relate to them, is how I define mindset. This is a little different than how I often see mindset described in the coaching profession. A lot of times when coaches are talking about mindset, they're really looking at our thoughts, or our cognitions. And specifically, coaches tend to look for limiting beliefs. That's a phrase that you may have heard quite often, because most of us carry beliefs about ourselves. And sometimes those beliefs can hamper or limit what we think is possible. So as coaches, we're very interested in uncovering our client’s limiting beliefs, and helping them view those beliefs in a different way. So when you hear coaches talk about mindset work, they're often talking about reframing those limiting beliefs, and creating new messages that better support the client in achieving their goals. From my perspective, that is an important part of mindset work. But it's not the only part of mindset work. When I'm working with my own clients, or when I am training coaches, I want to make sure that we are also paying attention to the emotional components of mindset. Because we have our thoughts, and we have our emotions, and the way that we relate to both plays into our overall mindset. So in the book, I talk about each of The Three M's, and each “m” has two processes that go with it. So for mindset, the two processes I talked about in the book are “create space”, and “let it be”. So “create space” is related to our thoughts and our cognitions. And “let it be” is related to our emotions. So let's start with this idea of “create space”. Often, what happens when we are engaging with our thoughts, is that our mind generates a statement, and we buy into it hook line and sinker from the get go. Doesn't really matter if it's true. Because our mind has generated it, we believe it. In ACT speak, that is called cognitive fusion, we are fusing with that thought or with that belief. And so what that means is that our identity, how we view ourselves, is highly correlated with that belief. So you can see how if you have a belief that in any way limits what you think is possible, it can hold you back from creating the change you want in your business, and your relationship, in your life. Now, what I see a lot of coaches do is they take that belief, and they try to change it, they try to get rid of it, they encourage their clients to release that belief and come up with something new. The process of creating space, however, is a little different. We're not necessarily trying to get rid of or eliminate that belief. Because my personal view is that the more we try to get rid of something, or the more that we try to avoid it, the stronger it becomes. The very act of trying not to think about something directs our attention to that thing we don't want to think of, so it becomes a vicious cycle. And it can actually reinforce that limiting belief. So with “create space”, the goal is not to eliminate or get rid of a thought. Instead, the goal is to create space between the thought and our identity, between what it is we're telling ourselves and how we view ourselves in the world. So as I mentioned before, in ACT speak, when we buy into that thought, we are fusing our identity with that thought. Creating space is all about defusing from that thought, so that we create just a little bit of breathing room between who we are and what our mind is telling us about ourselves. That is the process of “create space”. So we can have a thought, we can hold a thought. And we don't necessarily need to buy into that thought. We can choose whether we want to adopt it and let it define us, or whether we want that thought to move on. Because that's the thing about thoughts, they come and they go, they're transient. We retain the power as to whether or not we want to hold on to a thought, to give it importance and to give it meaning. And from that position where we've created space, we then regained control of the narrative. And we can decide what types of thoughts and beliefs we want to create, and what types of thoughts and beliefs will help us as we move forward, taking action in our lives that's consistent with what matters most to us. That is one element of mindset work, it is the thought component. And it's not about getting rid of thoughts or even changing thoughts. It's about noticing, them noticing the impact they have on us, creating some space between the thought and our self concept, and then choosing what thoughts and what beliefs we want to hold that can support us moving forward. So that's part one. Part two has to do with our inner emotional life, and how our emotions influence how we view ourselves and what we believe about ourselves. Here's what's so interesting to me, when we have an unwanted thought or a thought that isn't supportive, so maybe it's “No one's going to want to work with me, who am I to be a coach anyway”. Those thoughts are painful. And yet we grasp onto them, we take them as truth, and we allow them to inform how we feel about ourselves. So we fuse with them. With unwanted or uncomfortable emotions, we often do the opposite. Instead of joining with that emotion, we try to push it away, we try to avoid it. And there are all sorts of ways we try to avoid unwanted or uncomfortable emotions. Maybe we numb ourselves out through food, or alcohol, or drugs, or sex, or a good Netflix binge. These are all strategies that we can use to avoid those emotions we don't want to confront. And yet we can only outrun our emotions for so long. We can only avoid them or numb them out for so long before they resurface. And often they resurface with even more strength, causing even more pain and discomfort. So the process that we use then, I call, “Let it Be”. And that's where we allow our emotions to be present. Even the painful ones, even the unwanted ones, because we know- to quote Rilke, that no feeling is final. It may be uncomfortable, but it is not permanent. So rather than trying to run away from our emotions or avoid them, we learn how to live in and with those uncomfortable emotions. And in doing so, we realize that we can sustain an uncomfortable experience, we can move our way through that painful emotion. So we're not trying to go around it, we're not trying to dodge it, we're not avoiding it. Instead, we are making our way through it, and to the other side of it. And that is at the heart of “Let it Be”. So when we are talking about mindset, we are not talking exclusively about limiting beliefs. Yes, limiting beliefs are a part of our overall mindset and the work that we do. But we are also talking about the way we relate to all of our internal experiences, all of our thoughts, and all of our emotions. So in coaching, when we approach a mindset from this perspective, we are taking a much more holistic view of our client and their experiences. We're also not approaching mindset work from the perspective that we need to get rid of or eliminate anything. Instead, it's about changing our relationship with that thought or with that emotion. So we don't have to get rid of it. We don't have to erase it. We do need to decide how we want to relate to it. And typically that involves diffusing or creating space between us and a thought. And it involves willingly accepting uncomfortable or unwanted emotions. Now I use the A word: Acceptance, which is a part of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. And I want to clarify for a moment what acceptance means, or at least what I mean when I'm talking about acceptance. Sometimes people hear the word acceptance, and they think it means just kind of rolling over, laying back, letting things happen to us. And I view that as a passive form of acceptance. It's kind of like you're just allowing yourself to be steamrolled by circumstances, events, even your own internal landscape. That is not really what I'm talking about when I'm talking about acceptance. It's not just letting things happen to you. That's Passive Acceptance. Active Acceptance, on the other hand, involves willingness. It's being willing to hold space for those unwanted thoughts, or those uncomfortable emotions, knowing that doing so is part of the healing process. So we're not just waiting for things to happen. Instead, we are actively making the decision to hold space for this, because we know it's vital to our process. When it comes to doing mindset work with our clients, as coaches I think there are a few things we need to remember. First, we need to actually do the work ourselves. We cannot, we should not, be asking our clients to do things that we are unwilling or unable to do ourselves. So when we are guiding our clients through these tools, through these activities, that we use to help them cultivate the mindset that will allow for greater success and greater growth, we need to be intimately familiar with these processes, because we've done them ourselves. That means getting comfortable with discomfort. That means exploring our own cognitions, our own limiting beliefs, and examining where we've bought into them, where we've gotten hooked, and how that is working for us, or how it's getting in our own way. It also means making room for those uncomfortable, unwanted emotions that come up. Whether it's fear, anger, regret, shame. How do we relate to those unwanted uncomfortable emotions? What tools can help us navigate that territory? We need to be comfortable with those processes before we guide our clients through them. But that brings up the flip side, which is we will never get to a point where our mindset work is done. There is no final destination when it comes to mindset work. This is something that we will always be doing. Because our mindset, our thoughts, our emotions, they evolve as we evolve. And as our businesses grow and hit new levels, we will be having new thoughts, new beliefs that help us or hinder us. And so we'll need to continue to do the work around that as well. I share that because I think sometimes coaches might believe that they have to have it all figured out for themselves before they can help someone else through it. And I want to call BS on that, because I don't think we ever have it fully figured out when it comes to mindset. We may know the tools, and strategies, techniques, and approaches that serve us when we're navigating our mindset issues. But it doesn't mean that we have to have them fully resolved or fully figured out before we can serve other people. In fact, I think that is the fallacy behind imposter syndrome, that we have to have something perfectly figured out and totally taken care of before we can turn around and support other people. I would suggest, in fact, that it is our continuing process of doing the work, of refining our approach, of having new insights that make us better coaches. So mindset work is not a one-and-done event. It's something that we are continually doing. And in that process that allows us to become stronger, more compassionate, more empathetic coaches. So it's not a problem that we don't have it all figured out. But we do need to be doing the work. And what does that work look like? Well, let's talk about that in this week's Clarity in Action Moment.
This week's Clarity in Action Moment is brought to you by the Coach with Clarity Membership. Now my friends, if you are listening to this episode when it drops, we are well into September, and we are fast approaching the last day you can join the Coach with Clarity Membership in 2021. I have never done this before. But on September 30th I am closing the doors to the Coach with Clarity Membership for the remainder of 2021. So starting October 1st, you will not be able to join the Coach with Clarity Membership until 2022. I will be spending the last three months of the year refining the membership, improving the user experience, and revising some of our most loved and most used guides, templates, and instructional videos. So when you join the membership today, you will have immediate access to the entire Coach with Clarity Toolkit. So all of the existing templates and guides, and you will get first access to the newly revised versions as well. And throughout the membership you will always have access to our for live calls every month. So we got co-working, Q&A, guest expert trainings, and hot seat calls every month. And as a member, you have exclusive access to those sessions. The membership is designed to support you every step of the way as you grow your coaching mastery and build your skill set as a business owner. So if you are ready to take your coaching business and your coaching practice to the next level, then you are ready to be a Coach with Clarity Member. All you have to do is head to CoachwithClarity.com/membership
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For this week's Clarity in Action Moment, I want to share with you one concept that is key when we are exploring our own mindset. Whether we're coming at it from the perspective of exploring our thoughts and beliefs, or our emotions, and feelings. There is one quality that is absolutely necessary to explore and then shift our relationship with our internal experience, and that quality is curiosity. When we can get curious about our thoughts and our emotions, we inevitably create that space that we need with our thoughts and make room for those emotions. And we do so from a place not of shame or judgment or anger or fear. But instead from a neutral curiosity. I find it helpful actually to think of myself as a scientist, and I am observing an experiment. That experiment is me. What do I notice about myself when I hold a certain thought? What sensations do I have in my body when I experience a given emotion? The more curious I can become about my process, and my relationship to my thoughts and emotions, the more opportunities I create for awareness, for acceptance, and for growth. That's why for this week's Clarity in Action Moment, I'm inviting you to get curious, to notice what comes up for you when you have a certain thought or experience a certain emotion. And let's do so not from a place of judgment, but from a place of openness, curiosity, and even wonder. Because curiosity is a vital component of any mindset work, whether we're doing our own mindset work, or whether we are guiding our clients through it. So your Clarity in Action Moment this week is to get curious about your own processes, notice what comes up, and then see where that curiosity takes you. And I hope you will share your experiences with me again, you can come find me over on Instagram @CoachwithClarity
or send me a message. My email is info@CoachwithClarity.com
, and I would love to know what about today's episode resonates most with you.
All right, my friend. That is it for me this week. But next week, I will be back in your feed with a phenomenal interview with my friend and fellow coach Lisa Kuzman. We are talking about all things related to trauma sensitive coaching. And if you are a member of the Coach with Clarity Community, our free Facebook group, then you know that trauma sensitive or trauma informed work is a hot topic. In fact, we had a fabulous discussion about it just a couple of weeks ago. And so I know that this podcast interview with Lisa can help you become even more of a trauma sensitive coach. So definitely tune in next week. And if you're not already following the Coach with Clarity Podcast, go ahead and do so now. That way next week's episode will automatically show up in your feed for you. Until then, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough, reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.