Are you choosing the right mindset for success? asks Sue France

The word ‘choose’ is a significant word in the title of this article, as you can ‘choose’ your attitude, ‘choose’ what you are going to wear, ‘choose’ what you read and learn, ‘choose’ where you work and of course, most of all, you can ‘choose’ your mindset!  The brain loves choice and treats it as a reward feeling, releasing feelgood hormones and enabling a better performance.

In this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world that we live and work in today, you need to make sure you choose the right mindset to fit your situation and to navigate your way through many different situations and crises. Your mindset will determine how successful you will be. Your mindset affects everything from what you think, how you feel and how you respond and behave. Remember what you think is what you become!

Here are a few of the mindsets that can help you be at your successful best:

1. The mindset of being the CEO of you 

Ask yourself, who is responsible for you? Who is responsible for the way you think, what you believe and the way you respond and act? You are in control of your own success and you must take responsibility for your own attitudes and actions.

Think: where are you now, where do you want to go, where do you want to be, what do you need to do to get there? It is important to know your purpose!

Be the leader of yourself and others no matter their status. Know yourself, invest in yourself, challenge yourself, continually learn and adapt and you will reach self-fulfilment and success.

2. The Agile mindset

An agile mindset is about understanding what’s going on in your environment and being creative and responding thoughtfully so that you can adapt quickly and make it better.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”

Albert Einstein

We know that our brains have neuroplasticity, therefore we know we can be innovative, creative, learn, grow and adapt until the day we die.

Some people, however, may have a fixed mindset and believe they are not good at this or that and believe that is just the way it is, whereas if you have a growth mindset you know you can learn, develop and be agile. (I have written a more in-depth article on fixed and growth mindset for Executive Support magazine, which you can find here.)

For an agile mindset you also need to have psychological safety within the workplace.  You need to know that if you take a risk or try something new and make a mistake that this is OK, if you learn from it and do something different next time. You need to feel confident that no one will make you feel embarrassed or punish you. Psychological safety in the workplace is about providing a safe space for employees to be their true full selves. You need to feel that you can take risks and try new things without repercussion from colleagues and explore your agility with flexibility and collaboration enabling your success. So, if your workplace does not have psychological safety yet, then make waves to change the culture, and bring out the leader in you.

3. The Positive mindset leading to self-belief

Your mind is naturally negative for the sake of keeping you safe, so ‘choose’ to be positive and have an anticipatory attitude, realising what may and will happen and be prepared in the most positive way. This will determine a lot about your success. Instead of giving yourself reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t do something, give yourself reasons why you can do it and give yourself permission to go for it.

Change your negative language to positive language when speaking to yourself and others. Feel the difference when you say to yourself, “I am really frightened to do this” to “I am really excited to do this”. You need to channel those feelings to help you and banish the negative thoughts in your head – those gremlins who keep chirping up saying “you can’t do or say that”, “you are not good enough for this project”. Banish that imposter syndrome and reach for the stars.

Trust yourself and believe in what you know and what you can do and always strive to keep on learning and improving in the face of adversity and treating it as a challenge you can overcome. Never give up on what you believe in and never give up on yourself!

4. Use the positive reframing mindset

Using the growth mindset mantra of ‘yet’ you can change your perspective of an event as well as your emotional response. You can change your mindset from “I don’t get it” to “I’m on a learning journey and I don’t understand this yet”. This will activate regions of the brain that will allow you to think about things more pragmatically.

5. The Courageous mindset

Doing anything ambitious, which is out of your comfort zone, requires courage, and you may, and probably will, feel fear. Courage does not mean being unafraid; having courage means facing your fears and moving forward anyway and making that comfort zone bigger. My favourite mnemonic for FEAR is ‘Feeling Excited And Ready’ and thinking of fear this way helps you change your emotional response. It’s about setting your goals and objectives and solving any obstacles in your way with enthusiasm, tenacity and perseverance.

6. The Curiosity mindset

Being curious is key to helping you be observant and creating ideas, opportunities and solving problems. It will help you discover what you are capable of and will keep you in a growth mindset. It takes a curious mind to discover possibilities which you might otherwise miss. To develop your curiosity, you need to keep an open mind, don’t take things for granted and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be inquisitive and remember to ask what, when, where, who, why and how. Read everything being sent from your Executive’s sent mailbox and read everything they read to know what is going on for them. Be continuously curious and expand your perspectives and horizons.

7. The mindset of “Act as if ….”

You can trick your mind into thinking it already has the mindset you need by “acting as if …” you do have the mindset required to reach your goal. Your brain will adopt this new mindset, which will be reinforced by your positive actions. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between a truth and a lie, and it listens to your internal chatter, body language and actions.

Determine the mindset you need in any given situation, whether it is one of the above or one of many others such as: the mindset of focus when you need to get a complicated job done, the mindset of acting on what you can control (not on what you can’t control), the mindset of continuous learning, the mindset of being a change agent (leading and being a part of the change process), the mindset of being a productive ninja, the problem solver mindset, the mindset of goal setting and achieving etc.

Choose a goal and ask yourself “which mindset do I need to achieve this goal?” Look at other people you admire who achieve their goals and ask yourself which mindset they use.


“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you are right!”

Henry Ford

This is one of my favourite quotes. Always choose the mindset of thinking you can. If you make mistakes that’s fine, you can learn from them and move forward, creating a bigger comfort zone as you explore new possibilities.

I wish you every success in all you do in life and career as you choose the mindset that you need to succeed in every situation. The way you think and the mindsets you choose are your power to make you successful in all you do.  Good luck!

Sue France FCIPD/INLPTA is passionate about the development of all Assistants, having been one for over 30 years. She has owned her own training company since 2009 working in over 36 countries with thousands of assistants, both face-to-face and virtually ... (Read More)

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