Focus. Where we put it has a tremendous influence on the paths we choose. It influences the steps we take (or don't take). Where we choose to focus matters. A lot. And it is a choice.
Before we gain (or lose) focus, we need to take a good look at our current mindset/belief of the specific situation. This can be a tough task without the awareness to do so. We typically go through life on autopilot, short-cutting to whatever we automatically believe. Many times, more serving reality awaits our consciousness.
These patterns of thought are rooted in beliefs. These beliefs are mindsets that narrow our focus to our greater capabilities. A personal example, albeit one that has come with a certain amount of shame over the years, is a belief/mindset of a lack of intelligence. Having not been a valedictorian student, having struggled with math, I developed the belief that I was...stupid. That belief rooted itself in my subconscious and has been following me, influencing me, perhaps at times, guiding me to a sense of inferiority, imposter syndrome, and professional insecurity. I had developed a focused, fixed mindset around my inabilities to learn and provide valuable professional contribution.
(Earmuffs and blindfolds for the kids, but WTF!!? )
I know. Hence my commitment to a decade-plus of mesearching. We all move through life with specific mindsets–fixed or growth–based in part on our sense of self-efficacy for each specific thing. Put me on a bike or a ball in my hand, or a position of creativity or care, I'm completely affirmed. But learning? Book smarts? Contribution to a work meeting? It took a lot of work to get to a place where I BELIEVED my opinions carried worth and value.
We all have the capacity to change our focus. So why don't we? Because it's familiar. It's automatic. Our brains love automation. The subconscious belief lack of intelligence in turn "encourages" our subconscious to seek out deficiencies in situations that require contemplation that's exposed to judgment. It's an attempt to "save you" from pending embarrassment. That's it's job. Adaptive, yes, to some degree, but also not helpful for changing to something more forward-moving.
Here's where it gets fun. We have the opportunity to adapt our brain’s tendency for one mindset over the other. This doesn’t mean you can automatically assume a growth mindset over a fixed mindset, but you can certainly take the steps to get there. By consistently challenging your limiting belief, we're challenging the mindset and upgrading it to one more current and closer to reality. This reframing incrementally changes our mindset to growth over fixed. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a specific and deliberate practice. But it’s worth the effort, believe me. It’s called “brain plasticity” and it’s one of the most exciting discoveries in the world of neuroscience. Carol Dweck is the foremost authority on mindset. To learn more, check out her TED talk on the power of believing you can improve.
Personally, I've had more fun learning over the past twelve years than any other part of my life. I call it my "MeHd."
Think about your own mindsets, where your focuses "lie." Do a little me-searching into why you feel the way you do about each mindset as it pertains to the specific thought, feeling, behavior. Then challenge it. Does that
mindset make you feel good? Does it yield positive emotions? Does it provide you with a sense of meaning or accomplishment? Identify those fixed beliefs and ask yourself those questions. If your answers are "no," let's go to work on it.