To be on top requires not only the hard, physical grind of doing the work but also the mental fortitude to withstand any challenge that comes your way. Every award winner we honored during Sales Convention embodies this mindset—it’s why we themed the event UNSTOPPABLE—and uses their mental strength to achieve every one of their Wildly Important Goals.
It’s interesting to think about mental strength because the topic was front and center for me today. I encountered a problem that I allowed to annoy me and as I left my house to go visit my friend Jeff Sposito, I was still vexed by the situation. But then I thought about it; Jeff is battling cancer and I was going to visit him for his birthday. What would Jeff think if the problem I had was the only problem in his life right now? He’d laugh it off, most likely. In the context of everything he’s going through, it wouldn’t even be a problem at all.
Mindset is everything. Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” And while we talk a lot about all those things you should do to maintain a positive mindset, let’s run through a list of five things you shouldn’t do if you want to stay mentally fit and strong:
- Don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself. Everyone has a bad moment. Everyone has a time in their life where they take a proverbial fall and aren’t sure how to get back up. But if you pity yourself and mire in your own obstacles, you’ll get no closer to overcoming them. Instead, choose gratitude. Be grateful for the weaker times because those are the ones that will strengthen your mindset and resolve. When you practice gratitude your entire demeanor changes. You start to see the bright in dark situations. You are motivated to move—both in mind and body. You get your tasks done faster; you emphasize the good. Dwelling on negativity or setbacks will only hold you back. It’s not a characteristic of what mentally strong people do.
- Don’t let someone else control your personal power. Your thoughts become your actions, so monitor what you’re thinking and how you frame your ideas. If you tell yourself, for instance, “this person is causing me to feel angry,” you’re framing the situation in a way that takes power away from you and gives it to someone else. Nobody can affect your feelings. You are in complete control of how you react to a situation. You are in charge of how you feel about the circumstances unfolding all around you. How can someone upset you if you don’t feel upset? If you do feel upset, you’ve let that person have all the power. They’re now in control of your mind. Outside of a few sci-fi novels, mind control isn’t something we focus on in everyday life.
We control our minds. Our mindset is ours entirely. So, if you can choose your mindset, choose positivity. Think about all the stories of successful leaders who took bad situations and turned them around, never allowing anyone else to take control of the power in their lives. When Steve Jobs was fired from his own company, Apple, he went on to launch Pixar Animation Studios and finally, returned to Apple and introduced the world to the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. In 1919, Walt Disney was fired from his job at the Kansas City Star when his editor allegedly told him his creations “lacked imagination” and that Disney “had no good ideas.” Oprah Winfrey was let go from her job as a news reporter at WJZ-TV, a Baltimore-area station when a producer purportedly told her she was “unfit for television news.” All these leaders were seemingly robbed of their power and each time used it as an opportunity to show the world just how powerful they could be.
- Don’t reject something just because it represents change. As I’ve often said, smugness comes before arrogance and arrogance is the precursor to disaster. Once you think you know it all, your slide to mediocrity has already begun. There’s a certain pitfall of a mentally weak leader and it’s that they are change-averse. When a new process or system comes into their organization, they shun it simply because it’s not how things are done. But doing things the way they’ve always done doesn’t allow for growth, and a mentally strong leader sees change, prepares for change, embraces change and moves forward toward increased progress.
- Don’t focus on things beyond your control. You can’t control the rain; you can simply buy an umbrella and avoid the puddles. If you spend time worrying about what is beyond your control, you’ll leave no room in your day for transforming what you can control. Part of focusing on what you can control also means putting things into perspective. Yes, problems arise and when they do, they’ll sometimes seem monumental, changing your mood and causing you to think negatively. But just like my friend who is battling cancer, problems that seem big to you when put in perspective, are probably very small. (Thank you, Jeff, for the paradigm shift you’ve given me today.)
- Don’t do everything yourself. There’s an old saying that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself, but mentally strong people understand that they simply can’t do it all. Delegation and accountability have to come into play to create mentally sound systems that build positivity and support for all.
So, what’s the message? The more you can push past failures, the more mentally resilient you will become. The more setbacks you encounter, the more you’ll cherish your successes. The more you can identify the things you shouldn’t do, the more will focus on what you should do, which will help you build the strongest possible mindset to lead your team with commitment, courage and conviction—just like the award winners we recognized during the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Sales Convention this week.
This article is adapted from Blefari’s weekly, company-wide “Thoughts on Leadership” column from HomeServices of America.