All the experts are saying this — remote work is here to stay. This may not be the “death of the office,” but clearly, our hybrid work-from-home schedules, virtual meetings, and remote teams are not going to go away anytime soon. In fact, many of us have been working with remote and virtual teams for years.
If the early months of the pandemic were akin to surviving a severe drought, going forward is like adapting and living with long-term water restrictions. We can complain and lament about how things used to be. But, let’s not! It’s critical for our organizations — and for us professionally — to move forward, building productive relationships, leading high performing teams, getting business done, and yes, even having difficult conversations and making tough decisions in our new environment.
To help, let’s consider our mindset as we move forward.
What is Mindset?
Our mindset is the blend of personal beliefs, points-of-view, and assumptions about who we are and how the world works — it is our uniquely individual understanding and translation of the facts. Think of your mindset as a pair of colored glasses through which you see the world and interpret its meaning. Everyone wears a pair of these colored glasses, and sees and interprets the world through them. Our interpretations determine our experience of life.
While based in fact, these interpretations are made up by us. That means we can modify our assumptions and have a different experience. For more, read Arden Coaching’s blog “Shape Your Mindset: How Do You Choose To View the World?”
How Can Shaping Your Mindset Help? Work On This Exercise.
Think of a recent work situation that annoys, angers, or frustrates you. Take three minutes to describe it — write it down. Now, write down why others are behaving the way they are, or why this situation is occurring, and what it feels like for you — how is the situation impacting your attitude? When you finish, you will have told a story that is a combination of fact… and your colored glasses interpretation of fact.
Zack is increasingly frustrated by the performance of one of his employees. Sara’s attention wanders during video meetings and her work is increasingly sloppy. Zack writes that she lacks the discipline to work remotely and is losing interest in her job — Zack believes Sara may even be searching for a new position.
This makes Zack upset and short-tempered. He’s losing his patience with Sara and cutting her out of meetings and new projects. Lately, it’s just easier to assign work to another employee.
Some parts of Zack’s story are fact — Sara does have trouble focusing during video meetings and the quality of her work has been subpar recently. But some of Zack’s narrative is made up of his internal beliefs, assumptions, and interpretations. Perhaps his assumptions are true, but what if they are not? What if Sara is dealing with a complicated personal situation at home, juggling several things — including work — and that a lack of discipline or interest is not the issue at all?
Go back to your exercise. Create two columns on a piece of paper. In one column list the objective facts of your story. In the second column separate and list your interpretation of the facts.
Now consider possible alternative explanations and interpretations for the facts you listed. Brainstorm five alternate possibilities — interpretations of the facts that are more empowering for you… That is, things that you can act on and do something about. For more about change, mindset and leadership in your organization, read Arden Coaching’s blog “What’s Next for Your Organization?”
One possibility that Zack brainstormed was that some personal situation or family commitment might be sapping Sara’s energy and weighing her down. This shift changes Zack’s mindset — the colored glasses he’s wearing. With that in mind, Zack reached out to Sara, expressed his concerns about her work and asked her what she’s dealing with right now.
As a result, he learned that Sara’s children had just gone from a hybrid in-person school schedule back to full-time school from home, and things were pretty chaotic. This knowledge changed Zack’s assumptions and opened up new channels of communication and new options and alternatives to allow Sara to manage her children’s schooling and re-focus on her work.
A seasoned executive coach will partner with their clients, exploring their beliefs and assumptions. What is your mindset? What aspect of your mindset is helping you? What aspect may be holding you back? With practice, you can change your mindset and change how you experience your life.