Basically every school leader I know reports that they love their job and find it to be immensely rewarding.
Many of those same leaders also report frequently finding themselves in survival mode at work.
There is so much coming at you every day. You have all of your big ideas and events and then illness, weather, and employee turnover happen on top of that.
We all want the mental space to be grateful and creative.We just don’t always know what to do in order to make that possible.
Actively choosing to shift your mindset is the best way to change how you experience leadership.
What is a mindset shift?
You probably already know what it means. Mindset shifts are about living the same life and experiencing the same things but running them through a new mental filter. Perception is reality and our mindset is the structure upon which perception is built.
How does a mindset shift happen?
The short answer is “gradually.” Mindset shifts require making conscious choices about your behavior that change the way you perceive the world. You don’t just choose a mindset shift so much as you choose actions to make that shift possible.
The actions you choose are up to you and may vary depending on what kind of mindset shift you are trying to make.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Take on a new challenge. A performance art group, a PhD, a new athletic endeavor. Make it big. Make it meaty. Commit to it for a full year. See what happens.
- Meditate. You don’t have to light incense and you don’t need a Buddha statue. All you need is breath. Meditation can deep and drawn out, but it can also be quick and full of gratitude. Find a style of meditation that works for you and try it out for six weeks.
- Look for the lessons. This one can be tough, but there is something to be learned from even the hardest and most awful situations. Move beyond surviving the hard stuff and start looking for ways to learn from it too.
- Get some sleep. Americans are chronically awake. I suspect that a lot of leaders who are stuck in survival mode are also leaders who aren’t getting a good night’s sleep every night. Turn off your electronics. Eat an early dinner. Breathe deep. And make sleep a priority. You might start waking up with a whole new perspective on life! If that doesn’t work, seek medical support because sleep really matters.
- Change your routine. Start approaching your day differently in all the ways. Challenge yourself to think of as many ways as you can possibly change the way you approach your day while still getting all of the same stuff accomplished. Rearrange the furniture. Switch up what you eat. Start spending way more time in the classrooms. Trade TV for reading. Take a different way to work. Just keep switching it up and look for moments to be grateful for the new perspective and what you are learning. A mindset shift is inevitable.
- Pick up a good habit and keep it to yourself. You get to decide what the definition of a “good” habit is. The point is that it makes you happy and you commit to doing it. Do five sun salutations every morning. Pay for at least one stranger’s coffee per week. Start up a one sentence daily gratitude journal. Volunteer one Sunday per month. Get fitter than you’ve ever been in your life. Do it. Love it. Be quiet about it. Grow.
How will I know I’ve had a mindset shift?
Every once in awhile, we have those memorable moments that just completely change the way we see the world forever. Maybe when you actively pursue a new perspective on your life and leadership, you will have one of those moments.
Most of the time, a mindset shift is gradual. Think about it, you’ve shifted before. There were many beliefs I had about myself and the world when I was young that I no longer agree with. My perspective on life is different now and I don’t see things the same way. This change was gradual. I couldn’t really see the changes for many years.
You’ll know you’ve had a mindset shift because you will feel it in your gut. It might take you a while to articulate it and share it with others, but you will feel it.
There is much to celebrate when we can move our mindset from survival to openness. That is where creativity, curiosity, and connection blossom. Actively pursuing a shift in perspective, even if you don’t know what the result will be, is a great way to grow as a leader and as a human.
Stretch your soul by switching up your behavior. You and your community will reap the benefits!
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