This is an extract from the book ‘Lead By Example’ by Mat Lock. This is from Chapter 1, Your Environment Dictates Your Performance and helps the reader to understand the importance, and power, of each of us taking accountability for ourselves in everything that we do. It also focusses on the impact our mindset has on each and every element of our being…
“While Leadership necessitates accountability, my focus in this next section starts with mindset and subsequently loops back to the subject of routines.
Let’s first agree that mindset is one of the unifying realities for all humans on planet Earth. We all have a mindset. Think of your mindset as a default attitudinal setting that’s been established over time based on the accumulation of your experiences.
You may have the mindset of an optimist, providing you with a rose-colored perspective on life. If you have an entrepreneurial mindset, you’ll tend to see the world through a business-centric filter. Whatever your mindset, there are two things in your life that are directly affected by your mindset: you and those around you.
Let’s consider an example of how your mindset affects you personally. For this illustration, I’m going to use the “C word” as its power and ugliness know no bounds.
What’s the “C word?”
Can’t. Think of how many times you heard someone say, “I can’t do that.” It gets right under my skin, as I believe it’s an entirely self-defeating mindset. As Henry Ford is famously quoted as saying,
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t. You’re right.”
On the flip side, you can use the same example to demonstrate the power of your mindset as it pertains to those around you. You’ve probably heard, “He won’t be able to do that” or “She won’t like that.” Again, if you want to push my buttons, that’s probably the best way to do so.
I know that my mindset has played an important role in my ultra-distance training and competing. In fact, just by default, mindset was part of my training — not as a separate session each week, but on long, hot, gruelling rides or runs in Asia, where I had plenty of time to spend inside my own head, listening to my inner voice. It wasn’t always pretty but I grew to cherish the lessons I learned and the evolution I experienced, which translated into my working life just as it did my non-working life.
But what about in a team environment, be it work or play?
Think about some of the most successful teams in the world. In sporting terms, it could be the Boston Celtics, Real Madrid, Ferrari or the New York Yankees. But what about Tesla, Apple or Google? They are also examples of great teams producing amazing results. You can be sure that the mindset of any successful team is a critical factor. But why is that?
Sometimes, a mindset will spread between people in a team or group. In fact, a mindset can become so firmly entrenched that it creates a powerful incentive within the team to continue on in a particular direction or instead, to adopt previous choices or behaviours.
Therefore, as a leader or member of a team, how important do you think this is? The mental inertia that can be harnessed in such an environment is incredibly powerful if the mindset is productive and progressive. But, if the mindset is poor, look out.
I remember a company I worked for many years ago had, as I quickly learned, what was described as a “bad culture.” I despised working there and quickly moved on. When I reflected on why the culture was so bad, it dawned on me that a company is nothing more than a legal umbrella under which people operate. If there’s a bad culture, it must therefore be caused by the people. But people are generally not bad. So, what is it that creates a bad culture?
I later realised that during my short tenure with that company, I had quickly become part of the problem. The mental inertia of the group mindset in that company was simply difficult to counteract and behaved like a tornado — an unstoppable force tracking on the underside of a dark cloud, sucking up everyone in its path. It was systemic and beyond my sphere of influence. So instead, I chose to leave. I removed that toxic element from my bubble.
So, the message is simple: be part of the solution, not the problem. As an Everyday Athlete, you must hold yourself accountable to consciously manage your mindset. As we’ve agreed already, doing so will benefit you and those around you.
But how to achieve this?
Answering that question really demands you think about why anyone’s mindset may lean toward the dark cloud. We’ll dive into mindset as it pertains to sports and fitness in more detail in a later chapter, but under the umbrella of accountability, I believe there are elements within our own power, each and every day, that can dramatically affect our mindset.
We humans are creatures of habit. And there are some basic human needs that are universal, although we each value and prioritise these differently. If you follow Tony Robbins, you’ll know that he teaches that there are six human needs that make us all tick and which drive our behaviour.
Being creatures of habit leads to the unsurprising reality that, according to Robbins, the very first human need is certainty. I know that is a huge driver for me. As a male brought up in a Western middle-class society, my need for financial certainty is strong. For those of us brought up in such an environment, there is an abiding need to be able to provide for those who depend on us (regardless of whether they need us to or not).
Which brings us back to our touch-points in our lives. These are the things in our bubble; our loved ones, fur kids, mates, homes, work, colleagues, working time, spare time, what we eat, what we think about, how we sleep, and so on…
It’s hard to be certain about things we have limited or no control over. Therefore, let’s take control of our own destiny and mindset by feeding ourselves a good dose of certainty every day. How? By being deliberate and working on the things we do control.
For example, do you have control over…
I could go on, but you get my point.
And other than the sense of empowerment that comes with understanding all of the things you do have control over, there is a huge raft of medical studies that show the direct correlation between routines and health.
As mentioned previously, we already have routines. Some have been consciously crafted but most have slowly formed subconsciously. And that means that not all routines are created equal.
For example, do you routinely…
Again, you get my point.
Now the purpose here is not to preach and make you feel bad. I’ll be the last person on the planet to claim mastery on any of the above points but I try. And that’s the point. I understand the wellness potential of installing healthy routines into my life.
Installing new, healthy routines often has the byproduct of displacing poor habits. Remember why I signed up for my first Iron distance race? It was to stop smoking and avoid going down the rabbit hole of partying. In doing so, I installed new fitness-related routines that simply displaced some old habits. IT’s true that the best way to break a habit is to form a new habit.
Think about your current routines. What’s moving you forward versus dragging you backward?
To get your honesty juices flowing, could you, for example, create a routine of…
So, I’m guessing, like me, you already have some of these under control. But be honest with yourself and keep in mind that they’re only a starting point anyway. What other bad habits could you displace with some new, healthy routines?
Remember, not only should we want to excel in everything we do, we should also want to lead by example and inspire those around us. Don’t kid yourself, they’re watching you, whether consciously or not. And you should never underestimate the impact your behaviour can have on others.
You see, even as your environment dictates your performance, you inhabit everyone else’s environment. So naturally, you have a bearing on the performance of those around you whether you choose to or not. Be accountable and use that power wisely.
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