Mindset. Mindset, mindset, mindset. Why do we keep coming back to this topic? Because it doesn’t just matter, it makes the difference in all our endeavors. This is more than positive thinking. Sometimes positive thinking is akin to the 19th century writer and philosopher Fyodor Dostoevsky’s observation of a polar bear: “Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.” The stronger the focus is on trying to stay positive, the more annoying it becomes. Mindset isn’t about a singular focus, it’s about a manner of living, which Brian and Kate beautifully emphasize in this installment of Profitcast.
Most women experience varying degrees of tumultuous emotion during their teenage years (I can’t speak for men, since I’m not one, but I’m not excluding the possibility!). I was no exception. I experienced, was drawn to, and provoked the extremes of emotion. It was exhausting, yes, but even worse–it damaged so many friendships. Since maturing and gaining a general understanding of the world, I’ve sought balance in all areas of my life, desiring to find what is sustainable rather than what will outright make me happy or fulfill an immediate desire. From consuming food to exercise to handling disagreements with a friend, it’s been much more rewarding to resolve the issues I have with something that I can fall back on at a later time.
For many years, I thought the answer to this balance was found in the Stoics. If you don’t know what I mean by that, check out the definition of stoic and that will get you started. But the philosophy behind stoicism is much greater than the definition depicts. It’s a lifestyle of letting go of things that are very personal so as to avoid pleasure or pain. I wasn’t very good at enacting this philosophy (I was better at avoiding passion than pain), but I found it fascinating to consider separating myself from any immediate emotion I had concerning my present circumstance as the means to avoid being dominated by the extremes.
Stoics, on the whole, aren’t very relatable or relational. This manner of living is great… if you want to take care of yourself and only yourself. When it comes to developing relationships, though, it is imperative to be moved by passion, by grief, by joy… because it’s only when we act on those that we forge any connections with other people. The stoic would say that those connections are fleeting, hold no intrinsic value, and contribute to the very problems exacerbated by emotion (war, greed, the like). It’s curious to me now, the whole stoicism ideal, because it seems as though for a philosophy whose members dedicate themselves to liberty from passion and total submission to natural law is an extreme itself. Rather than dealing with natural human emotion, they want to remove that element from the equation entirely. There is still no balance.
Sometimes it’s appealing to think of living in such a way as to remove emotion entirely. I lost my dad very unexpectedly in early February, this year, and there are times when I wish I could feel nothing. Experiencing grief is heavy, exhausting, and constant. But in my grief I have also found incredible joy, incredible love, incredible friendship…exemplifying to me all of the best qualities of humanity. It was only in the depth of my grief that I could also see the depth of love and friendship, and as much as I’d like my dad back, I can also appreciate that these are experiences I never would have had without losing him very suddenly.
In case you’ve forgotten, we’re talking about mindset, here. And to bring this all together, the reason I wrote about extreme emotions in this blog post while Brian and Kate talk about surrounding yourself with the right people and having the right mindset in order to be successful, is because mindset is more than focus. Mindset isn’t a goal of losing 20 pounds in 40 days; mindset is the collection of recipes and the workout routine that enable you to live a healthy lifestyle. Mindset isn’t the goal of raking in 20K/month with a single podcast; mindset is the breadth of skill that makes you uniquely qualified and equips you to be the best form of yourself while performing and while engaging with the people you want to reach.
Goals are great. Companies have employees set them to ensure they’re looking beyond the present and desiring to grow in their position. We set goals for ourselves so we can get up off our lazy butts and deliver. Goals are great, but we’re not talking about goals. We’re talking about all of the little things that go into the big things. Actually, if I might cherry-pick one of my favorite stoics, Epictetus: “Practice yourself, for heaven’s sake, in little things; and thence proceed to greater.” The idea being that not only do little skills make up larger skills, but the more we work at the little things, the easier it will be to pick up the bigger things.
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