Merriam-Webster (MW) defines “mind,” in the noun tense, as the element or complex of elements in an individual that feels, perceives, thinks, wills, and reason. Furthermore, MW defines “set” as to put, lay, or stand (something) in a specified place or position. When you concatenate these words, we arrive at mindset. This compound word is so powerful that it can drive countries as well as individuals, alike, into mass turmoil or elevate them to great prosperity. The interesting thing about mindset is that it vacillates because its nature is predicated on situations and circumstances. We all have internal processes that govern our growth and development. Some may have a fixed mindset; therefore, growth and development can be limited. While others have a learning mindset and adjustments are made along our life’s journey. Whether fixed or learning, a mindset is a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by one or more people or groups of people and can also be seen as arising out of a person’s world view or philosophy of life. Our mindset or logic box is our collection of knowledge, attitudes, skills, and habits (KASH) that often limit our perception and acts as a restriction on objective thought and creative expression. What is in your mindset? What are your views and perspectives that have eroded some of your best intentions with unintended consequences?
In 1972, one of the best-known slogans in public-service was “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” The United Negro College Fund ran this slogan in print, radio, and television as an intentional campaign to close a persistent gap between African Americans and other groups in college completion. They understood then as we know today that in a land that is constantly going through entropy only the learned will survive. We can no longer rest on the scaffold of mediocrity and not take the leap into the unknown.
The animated movie Frozen 2 was a mega-billion dollar hit at the box office and the soundtrack was equally successful on the music charts. One song, most notably, Into the Unknown, aligns with the perspectives of this article, in huge part because we fear what we don’t know, and many don’t ever like asking questions because it will make others believe that we don’t know thus the paradox. Check out the first to verses of the song:
“I can hear you but I won’t
Some look for trouble while others don’t
There’s a thousand reasons I should go about my day
And ignore your whispers which I wish would go away.
You’re not a voice, you’re just a ringing in my ear
And if I heard you, which I don’t, I’m spoken for I fear
Everyone I’ve ever loved is here within these walls
I’m sorry, secret siren, but I’m blocking out your calls
I’ve had my adventure, I don’t need something new
I’m afraid of what I’m risking if I follow you”
These words are very powerful for a seminal audience to comprehend but if you dissect its meaning, you will understand the humanistic nature of individuals whose mindset has been hindered or restricted because they don’t want to leave the porch, get out of the boat, or take the leap into the unknown. The unknown is scary and unpredictable. It isn’t something that we are used to. We prefer routine and certainty but as I have always told my staff, certainty is the enemy and uncertainty an ally. Our 10-year old daughter sang this song so much during the Frozen 2’s hey-day that I became so curious that I woke one early Saturday morning to watch it for myself.
The movie’s plot was rich, and it captivated me. Elsa the Snow Queen has an extraordinary gift — the power to create ice and snow. But no matter how happy she is to be surrounded by the people of Arendelle, Elsa finds herself strangely unsettled. After hearing a mysterious voice call out to her, Elsa travels to the enchanted forests and dark seas beyond her kingdom — an adventure that soon turns into a journey of self-discovery. Synoptically, Elsa discovers that the voice calling to her was the memory of young Iduna’s call; that her powers were given to her by nature because of Iduna’s selfless act of saving Agnarr; and that Elsa herself is the fifth spirit who would break the water dam that would save their kingdom.
You see, the voice calling Elsa (like you and me) into the unknown was challenging her mindset and comfort zone. She was doing just fine after Frozen 1 but there was an agitation that persisted and kept her up at night, trepidatious and reluctant to escape from the comfort the has confined her perspectives. We all get comfortable and enjoy what comfort brings. Many people see comfort as an adjective, describing an attribute or something, when, in fact, comfort is a noun.
Comfort enters your home as a guest, remains as your host, and will eventually become your master. Comfort is a silent killer and has been charged with homicides in careers, families, marriages, and almost every place imaginable where growth and development are quintessential factors to success. Our limited KASH affects our ability to create or solve problems in two important ways: it heavily influences the kind of opportunities or problems that we recognize as being important enough to create (opportunities) and/or solve (problems); and it influences the analysis of the potential (opportunities) and cause (problems) and therefore the proper course of action to maximize the opportunities in life or to minimize the duplication of problems that have been solved in our past. What’s the definition of insanity? There, you got it, doing the same thing while expecting different results or better yet…being fearful of entering the unknown.
Our mindset should be challenged. We should have a desire to grow but that’s not innate in us. Physically speaking, our bodies do this on the regular. When we are hot, our bodies don’t sit there and internally combust. No, our bodies respond to the external stimuli by sweating to ensure we don’t overheat and dehydrate in the process. If the hairs in our nose tickle a bit, we sneeze. In other words, our bodies respond to external forces and are not going to be suppressed by anything.
Like our physical nature, our psyche (not psychic) nature, which comprises of our mind, will, and emotions should, like a thermostat, adjust to the external environment to maintain the proper climate in our lives. To do this we must be committed to the foundational premise of continuous learning and development. Without challenging ourselves, we subscribe to an internal newsletter whose content never changes. Imagine that, picking up a magazine and reading the same articles over and over again. Certainly, the cure to insomnia. So, if you want to challenge your mindset and are daring to enter the unknown to discover and unlock your internal talents and gifts, you must evict comfort because comfort is the enemy of change. Not to mention, we must dismiss the notion that nobody likes “change” but a wet baby.
Apostle Paul, whose mindset was drastically change on the Damascus Road, wrote that we are not to be conformed to the ways of the world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds or mindset. He realized, like we should, that transformation doesn’t end with age or experience, but it continues daily as we invent and reinvent ourselves. If you can agree with this, then you must establish parameters to keep your mind percolating and hungry for more.
Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel in 1926, on her second attempt. 19-year-old Gertrude Ederle swam 21 miles from Dover, England, to Cape Griz-Nez across the English Channel, which separates Great Britain from the northwestern tip of France. On August 6, 1926, Ederle entered the water at Cape Gris-Nez in France at 7:08 a.m. to make her second attempt at the Channel. The water was predictably cold as she started out that morning, but unusually calm. Twice that day, however–at noon and 6 p.m.–Ederle encountered squalls along her route and Burgess urged her to end the swim. Ederle’s father and sister, though, who were riding in the boat along with Burgess, agreed with Ederle that she should stay the course. Ederle’s father had promised her a new roadster at the conclusion of the swim, and for added motivation he called out to her in the water to remind her that the roadster was only hers if she finished. Ederle persevered through storms and heavy swells, and, finally, at 9:04 p.m. after 14 hours and 31 minutes in the water, she reached the English coast, becoming the sixth person and first woman to swim the Channel successfully. Furthermore, she had bettered the previous record by two hours.
Afterwards, Ederle told Alec Rutherford of The New York Times, “I knew it could be done, it had to be done, and I did it.” She went on to say that she was successful the second time around, not because of the incentives outlined by her father but because she possessed a mindset that failure was not an option. She started the journey with intentionality to reaching the English coast. It was in her mind from the beginning even though she felt like giving up and her body became fatigued. She was set on not breaking the record but breaking up the comfort in her mindset that would oftentimes tell her she wasn’t capable, or the feat was impossible.
What has kept you anchored in a position of mediocrity? What has prevented you from going to the next level? I can guarantee you this…that something would be your mind. The richest place on the planet, found in every place across the globe, is the graveyard – filled with so many people who could have, would have, and should have, but for many (not all) were scared to enter the unknown. I am inspired by these words myself, and will likely archive this article because I, like you, will no longer be afraid to enter the unknown, because when we are there, we can unlock some of our life’s greatest experiences and moments.
There I say again, let’s #getatit!