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mindset-massageWhat is a “mindset”? How are mindsets related to diversity and inclusion? Do we all have mindsets – and is that bad?

I talk and write a lot about mindsets. I focus on mindsets that create obstacles for gender diversity at the leadership level of business. I recently recognized how quickly mindsets can develop. I developed a mindset that I need to change.

When I use the term, I refer to a way of thinking that has developed over time and may operate at the sub-conscious level. Brain scientists are learning much about how doing certain things, and thinking certain ways, lay down neuropaths. The more we do or think that way, the more deeply grooved the neuropaths become. This is the root of a habit – a “knee jerk” way of reacting in thought or action.

I have spent the last two months recuperating from surgery and resulting nerve damage. I had to slow way down. Everything (dressing, typing, even eating) takes much longer than normal. What I got done in a day has been far less than before. Prior to this medical challenge, I might feel I had a productive day if I designed or delivered a speech or workshop, followed up with two prospects, wrote a blog and did physical exercise. Now I feel I have had a productive day if I take a shower, dress and make breakfast, do my physical therapy, respond to a few phone calls or e-mails, take a nap, and maybe write for 15 minutes. This has become a new habit of thought. I have just become aware of it!

As I heal and regain physical function, this new, relaxed standard is interfering with my work – my mission. I know it is time to step it up at least a bit – and more and more as I can. But that takes recognizing this (recently developed) mindset about what I can and should do in a day.

Do you see? We should not feel bad or guilty about having unconscious mindsets. They occur naturally. In my case it has occurred in two months. I cannot judge people for having deeply rooted mindsets that create obstacles for women in business leadership. These mindsets are formed over lifetimes and reinforced by strong cultural forces. How much harder they are to bring to conscious awareness – and to change – than my recently developed mindset about productivity!

What mindsets can you identify in yourself? Are there reasons to change them?