The Turning Point – Change in Mindset Requires a Defining Moment

I remember the night; picking my son off the couch in the basement, where he was accustomed to falling asleep, for the long journey up two flights of stairs to his bedroom. On a normal day he was heavy, in deep sleep he was dead weight. I had made the trip every night for as long as I could remember at that point, but this time it was different. By the first landing I was out of breath, by the second I was starting to sweat. That was as far as we got that night without putting him down. For the first time in my life, I realized that I was too out of shape to take care of my own family. This was my “ah-ha” moment.


The ah-ha moment as I call it, is a defining event in time that causes you to realize that something has to change. For me, that was the day I started working on my physical fitness, for others it could be something else. 


That next day I called my first personal trainer, and seven years later I have not let up. At the age of 41 I am in better shape than I was at 30. In fact, I am probably in better shape than I was at 20 not counting some grey hairs and aching joints. I have heard it referred to as the “TSN turning point” or “wake-up call”. No matter the buzzword, every change I have seen in mindset has to have it in order to create a lasting effect.


Through being part of Strategic Coach over the last five years, I have learned a great deal on mindset and both personal and professional change. To be honest, I am not the person I was before I joined. The public accountant I left behind was a strong type-A personality, stuck in his ways of doing things, and was fiercely independent. I was going to be successful, whether anybody else liked it or not. I relied on hours worked, not human resources, my way of doing things, not team collaboration, and probably most detrimentally, I relied on individualism. I was going to take over the world by scaling the pyramids myself. This was mistake number one.


My other major mistake was believing I had to know everything. I believe many people refer to it as “fake it until you make it”. I had become a professional at this by the age of 35. Buy the nice house, drive the nice vehicle, and never admit that you don’t know something. Be the knower of all and the doer of everything. This was my mindset on my quest to become partner and nobody could tell me otherwise. Now, don’t get me wrong, I had strong relationships with both friends and colleagues. But I saw them as external forces, not internal growth. As Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach puts it, I saw the how and not the who.


So, what was my ah-ha moment in business? 


It was a colleague telling me I was in the way. 


Many of us in  leadership roles tend to work with “yes” men (or women). Somebody that substantiates every decision you make with positive feedback, ignoring the negative aspects that could arise. We most likely have built this team without even knowing it. They believe they are creating job security by agreeing with you at every turn, meanwhile they are hurting the business by allowing you to believe you are always right. It was not until I tasted negative medicine that I truly knew what I was doing was wrong.


Being called out by somebody close to you in the organization is tough. I actually remember going through the steps of grief (it sounds hilarious as I type this). I went through anger, denial, resentment, and just about everything negative I could think of. Then I remember waking up one night and having the realization that they were right, and I was wrong. Tough pill to swallow, but a drastic change in mindset moving forward.


So how has my mindset changed? Well, for starters, I have achieved something that I never thought was possible in my own business. I have become one of the least useful people on a regular basis. 


Don’t get me wrong, this is an exaggeration at times, but for the first time I entered my business one day this summer and was not entirely sure what my role was or what I needed to achieve that day. I was told this may happen; I just didn’t believe it. In fact, at my last coaching quarterly I had to actually cover the topic of purpose and what to do after you have created a team that was as strong, or stronger, than yourself as a leader.


The answer in layman’s terms, become a visionary and leader. For those reading who know what Kolbe is, you will understand the next part. In the behaviour assessment Kolbe, there is a metric called “quickstart”. This registers how effective you are at coming up with new ideas or opportunities. I myself am a 3 out of 10 on the quickstart scale, meaning new business ideas  come slower and more methodical. By contrast, my business partner is a 9, which is why my email gets flooded with new opportunities or ideas on the regular. I believed this was a crutch and as such I used it as one. The actual realization was that this just meant it was going to take me longer and more thought to come up with the next great idea. Not a crutch, more like a limp.


So, as I get off the current tangent, I go back to the discussion on mindset and that ah-ha moment. As a business owner, or primary producer based on my audience, can you pinpoint your own ah-ha moment? Maybe it was something in your personal life, or business, or both? For many it is usually a negative event that leads to change, not often does a positive event identify a strong change as quickly. Looking back, I see them all the time now; they may not have been monumental at the time, but by getting out of the business and looking back they are evident.


Can you pick your ah-ha moment? Does it now define you? Or maybe it is still to come; will you see it?