Risk avoidance, blocks growth

Risk avoidance, blocks growth. When you are trying not to make a mistake, your decisions will center on avoiding risk. Sometimes avoiding risk becomes a cancer that slowly eats you into oblivion. The point of this exercise is to bring awareness about what you are doing and to recognise when it is a problem. Because a negative mindset could be your single biggest blind spot that is sabotaging your success and happiness. When you are minimising losses you can’t also maximise your upside. This will hold you back from creating a great work environment.

This is part five in the series on Mindset: Bringing Positivity to the Workplace. A negative mindset is like riding a bicycle and looking at a tree, thinking don’t hit the tree. Instead you become object fixated and can’t help but hit the tree. In this module I will show you some of the excuses bosses tell themselves so that you can avoid falling into the hole. And how you can turn around negative, stressful situations into proactive management.

Related Resources:

Managing your mindset is a good manager manager skill. Other important boss skills include:

Start with Mindfulness

The first step to operating on a higher level of consciousness is becoming aware of your monkey mind.

So taking the example of performance communication for a minor employee performance issue. Like it or not, if your employees aren’t performing it’s your responsibility and no-one else’s to help them. Without awareness what happens is something like:

  • Denial: It’s a minor thing - I’ll wait to see if it becomes an issue

  • Avoidance: Last time I spoke about performance with them it was horrible. It’s a small issue and it’s not worth it

  • Delaying: Now’s not the right time, I’ll save it for their performance review

  • Desire to be liked: I don’t want to seem like a nit picker

  • Blame: They just don’t care, that’s their fault and I can’t change that

  • Distraction: I’m too busy with my own work to fix this. Why can’t people manage themselves?

  • Problem Fixation: I can think of reasons why this won’t work. While silently ignoring that these are edge cases or have their own simple solutions

  • Seeking perfection: Delaying because you want to do more preparation.

  • Fear & lack of confidence: My employees don’t know how to do this. I can’t trust them because if this goes wrong then it will be a disaster. Instead I’ll solve their problems for them

We all have these negative thoughts so if you recognise these in yourself there’s no shame. It’s what you do about it that determines whether you win or lose. Uncontrolled, these thoughts become self limiting beliefs because these thoughts are the excuses we tell ourselves to avoid temporary pain for long term gain.

Awareness is a Gradual Awakening

The key to breaking this cycle is awareness. Awareness isn’t about immediately reprogramming your thoughts because that’s just not natural. Awareness is a gradual awakening. Awareness is having those negative thoughts that normally lead inaction but being aware that those thoughts are holding you back. Because then you can choose to do something about it. And over time you can choose to think different thoughts. Only by changing your thoughts can you change your actions.

Mindfulness is the path to positive solutions

But it goes further. Because if you can move yourself into an even higher level of consciousness then you can operate from a place of positivity instead of negativity. Traditional performance communication is reactive, negative, stressful, time consuming and ineffective. It’s something unpleasant that you only do when you feel you have to do. It’s based on management by exception where we wait and watch until something goes wrong and then we jump all over it. Instead you can move towards a more positive approach to dealing with the problem. Instead of punishing your employees for past behaviour because that’s an unpleasant waste. Do a ninja flip and focus on improving the future.

Bossercises are proactive

Instead of waiting for a problem and then reacting from an emotional state, conscious bosses are proactive. Bossercises are the regular actions that bosses do in Boss Camp. This is why Bossercises are lots of small actions done frequently.

Focus on what can go right, instead of what can go wrong. Awareness lets you move from being passive and reactive to being proactive. Awareness moves you from being a problem solver, constantly fighting fires to an innovative leader. Awareness is a powerful tool that’s thousands of years old but is the new big thing in business. See the section on Mindfulness to find out about how you can use the awareness ladder to fix almost any problem.

Solution: Replace the question you have: Use what could go right instead

What are some practical things that you can do? The answer is simple because it’s exactly the same solution for the child riding a bicycle. When you look at the tree you feel an irresistible force sucking you towards the tree. Until the inevitable collision. What you do instead is that you look where you want to go because we hit what we look at. Instead of looking where you don’t want to go, look at where you do want to go.

Instead of asking the question, “what can go wrong?” Start asking: “What do I want?” Don’t worry - it’s not about putting your head in the sand. Managing your mindset isn’t about existing in a state of blissful ignorance, it’s about knowing when you aren’t doing the right thing because of false doubt. Call it keeping your eye on the ball.

In short my quote is “Don’t see problems in your solutions, see solutions in your problems.”

And I have a fantastic example for you about how you can use positive performance communication to fix a problem. You can see it in the “Power of Positive Feedback”.

Often managers don’t act because they have had a bad prior experience

I understand that the reason why managers don’t act is because of prior bad experiences. They’ve tried performance communication and it didn’t work. They tried delegation and ended up with poor work. They’ve tried developing their employees but found that it sucked up too much time. What I can share with you is that there’s nothing wrong with performance communication, delegation or developing your employees. In fact these are very good things. But they can easily go wrong.

Managing is hard. When you do the right thing and it doesn’t work, this isn’t a sign to stop doing the right thing. It’s a sign to try a different way of doing the right thing. If people don’t listen to your performance communication, don’t stop talking. Because that’s giving up! That’s not the answer, it’s the spiral downwards to a place that you don’t want to go. The solution is to work out how to communicate to your employees so that they listen to you and do what you ask.

Wrapping up

I have to finish here with a quote from that great man Ghandi:

“Watch your thoughts; they become your words.

Watch your words; they become your actions.

Watch your actions; they become your habits.

Watch your habits; they become your character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

Clearly he was a very wise man who understood how our mindset affects our life.

  • If your head is full of excuses instead of solutions then be aware that your critical mindset is creating self limiting beliefs.

  • If the excuses are because what you are doing isn’t working then don’t give up, try something else and

  • Instead of focussing on the negatives, do a ninja flip to turn it around and focus on the positives

Choose a better way. Instead of avoiding the tree, find your path. Instead of being the boss who says “no”, lead by helping your employees to find their own path.

Take the first step to a more positive mindset with the short, online course Managing Your Mindset