The Mindset Trap

mindset“You have been busy since you returned from your trip sir,” I began our weekly conversations with a more social bent than usual.

“Well Watson, what else are vacations for, other than to refresh and recharge you so that you can launch yourself into your endeavours?” The Effective Detective replied, barely looking up from the work before him.

“Perhaps taking a break has given you a new view on things or perhaps an even more positive mindset?” I continued.

The Detective  stopped suddenly, and gave me a look that I had seen too many times before; I knew I was about to be skewered – metaphorically of course. “Mindset, Watson? A new view? I tend to believe such things are overblown.   Being away can give you a different perspective yes, but having limited access to the Internet during part of the trip impeded me in some cases, and could actually have given me a negative mindset as you call it. No, the break was meant for my body and mind to relax, to ease off the throttle so to speak, to gain energy to do the only thing that matters: act,” The Detective paused, but when I didn’t respond quickly enough, he continued on.

“You bring up an interesting subject though Watson, when you speak of mindset. I attended an interesting talk by one of my favorite speakers, James Malinchak, the other evening, and James talked a lot on mindset. Yes, you need a positive mindset, and yes you should surround yourself with positive, like-minded people, but in the end, the only true way to success is action. Action of course requires data. You need to know where you are, what your destination is, and whether there is truly a path to get there. I have always enjoyed Stephen Covey’s view of mindset and positive thinking. To paraphrase Covey, if you are lost in New York with a map of Chicago, it doesn’t matter how positive your attitude is, you are going to stay lost. A focus on mindset is a trap Watson, it can lock you into inaction – ‘Once my attitude is better, I’ll try that’, or possibly worse, it can help you follow false leads, because it isn’t that the data indicates an issue, you just aren’t positive enough!” The Detective finally paused, looking slightly flushed.

“This topic always seems to agitate you sir,” I said, hoping that did not just fan the flames.

“Not at all, Watson,” The Detective smiled. “Having fallen into the mindset trap myself a few times, or its cousin, analysis paralysis, I admit to a certain passion about the subject, but I am not agitated. The key is to not allow yourself to be blinded by a positive mindset so that you cannot make needed course changes as new data comes in, but at the same time, not allow the data to overwhelm you and stop making decisions because there are just too many possibilities. In short, a positive mindset and a beautiful dream, tempered by analysis of data we receive by taking continuous action, is the path to success. And on that note, we have some things to get done!” The Detective concluded and went back to his work.

“As you wish, sir,” I agreed.


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