Tuesday, February 13, 2024

"Mindset is everything" (or not)

I started the day with this Ross Dawson post LinkedIn post.

Here is the blurb that I decided to unpack:

🌱Mindset is everything.
Constant change is a reality you need to accept and learn to love. We need to be resilient, to respond, to adapt ourselves. Those that embrace rapid shifts will see opportunities others don’t, create far greater value, help their organizations to evolve, and be in a position to savor rather than be worn down by today’s extraordinary shifts. 

This reminded me of a book I read in college or grad school:  Underdevelopment is a State of Mind: The Latin American Case, by Lawrence E. Harrison, published in 1985.  I haven't opened it in decades, but I found my copy in the basement. The argument was that Latin America was underdeveloped because of certain cultural attitudes and values prevalent in the region and that the resulting attitudes towards work, the role of women, the importance of education, time perception, and the value place on innovation and authority all play a critical role in hindering economic progress and development.  

On a more personal level, it sounds like a "change your mind to change your life" slogan, an argument about how limiting beliefs are stopping you from being the best version of yourself, etc., and there is an entire literature around that. 

Let's start by taking some of the text apart:

1. Mindset is everything (?).  Probably not. That is too strong of a statement.  There are lots of external factors that impact an individual's ability to adapt and thrive.

2. Change fatigue is a real thing.  Constant change doesn't automatically lead to better outcomes. It can lead to decreased productivity and engagement, erosion of trust, and it can contribute to a negative organizational culture, where cynicism and resistance to change become the norm. 

3. Not all change is progressive.  Change is not always happening in the right direction, so blindly accepting and embracing change sounds like poor advice.  There are lots of historical examples of change that were initially perceived as positive and later recognized as harmful. 

4. Stability and routine are crucial to psychological health and well-being.  We should appreciate the benefits that some level of predictability brings to individuals and organizations. 

This is where change management should be engaged, but I'm not sure change management is adapting fast enough.  When constant change is applied to antiquated ways of working and traditional organizational structures, it creates a lot of pain.  Individuals would find it easier to adjust their mindset if the organizational infrastructure was changing in a way that aligned with the required individual adjustments.  This is going back to the fact that many external factors impact an individual's ability to rapidly shift gears and adjust to the changing winds. 

And yes, we all need to build up our resilience and accept change as a constant.  I don't think we should accept all change blindly.  It's not resistance to change, it's critical thinking. 

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