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Mindset matters

Michele E. Gervais, BA

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Simple steps to move past unproductive thoughts in yourself and your team.

Mindset is the No. 1 differentiator for driven, accomplished advisors. How you think and show up in the world has a profound impact on your business results, your quality of life and the engagement of everyone around you.

Your mindscape is the mental landscape where your beliefs, assumptions and thinking patterns roam and dictate your behavioral choices. How you think shows up in real life as an observable, measurable set of behaviors. This means you can learn how to think in a specific way, teach others to do likewise and embed these same thinking processes as a sustainable system in your practice and other parts of your life.

Make a conscious choice

Consider this: If you are committed to personal best, chances are you value taking care of your physical health. Maybe you go to the gym, give your body a workout, eat nutritious food and rest on a comfortable bed.

Why do you do this? Your physical wellness regime provides you with vibrancy, strength, longevity and a positive outlet for stress, so you make it a priority. Plus, you enjoy it. Keeping your mindscape robustly healthy is the same thing. These muscles are wortah grooming, stretching and scrubbing clean because when your mind is sharp, you can make better decisions and stay the course.

Declare your mindscape a zero-tolerance zone for rogue thoughts that have malicious intentions to take you down. It is absolutely vital that you rigorously protect and develop your mind. Declare your mindscape as open for productive thoughts only. Hold yourself accountable to this commitment.

Do one thing to gain momentum

Realistically, you have a lot going on. Distractions and self-sabotaging behaviors can tease you when volume, challenges beyond your scope of control or fatigue make you vulnerable. Assess yourself. What are your vulnerable moments in a typical week? What specifically takes you off your game? What self-sabotaging behaviors do you fall back on?

Counteract these with one simple action that will allow you to shift immediately into productive momentum. What is the one thing you can do that will have the highest impact? Examples:

  • Block one hour every Friday morning to think about your business.
  • Start every morning with a five-minute breathing exercise to clear your mind.
  • Replace one unhealthy beverage with one glass of water.
  • Every single time you sit down, ask yourself, “What is the best use of my time right now?”

Position yourself as a value hub

List your top strengths that you know you can rely on. Think about your qualities (what makes you resilient?), your professional skills (what is your highest talent?) and your personal values (what would you fight to protect?).

Take a piece of paper and draw a circle in the middle of the page. Put your name in it. Now, draw smaller circles outside this representing each key area of your life, such as your family, your practice, other business ventures, charitable organizations and community commitments. Given your strengths, what is the highest value you can contribute to each area? How much time do you choose to invest in each? Maybe it’s time to redefine your time and value contributions.

Shift your thinking

Your thoughts carve pathways in your brain and will choose the path of least resistance every time, just like water flowing down a mountain. Repetitive thoughts create deep ruts, so eradicate them by deploying “thought stopping” and replace them with new productive thought paths using “think shifting.”

For the next 24 hours, objectively observe your thoughts. If an unproductive thought emerges, stop it in its tracks and consciously replace it with a completely new thought by asking a shifting question, such as, “What is trying to happen here? How can I make this possible?” It may help you to stand up the moment you perceive your thinking is unproductive and physically move to a different spot.

For example, imagine you are ruminating about your team. Unproductive thought rut: “My team constantly makes mistakes.” “I will never find competent staff.” Think-shifting questions: “What else might be happening?” “What system is not working?” It could be a poor communication system, lack of clear priorities, insufficient training, no process template, no cross-check system, wrong people or undefined roles.

Embed think shifting into your business. For example, when staff come to you with a problem, ask them a shifting question to change their perspective. Build shifting questions into your conflict resolution process. Put a mindscape barometer on your weekly team meeting agenda and ask, “What worked well for you this week? What opportunities for improvement did you look for and act on?”

Play with new ideas. Stretch your brain. It’s healthy. 

How do you know when you’re stuck?

When you are on top of your game, your mind is clear, you prioritize the right activities and you are able to execute decisions with confidence. When you are vulnerable, distractions and self-sabotaging behaviors can tease you and bring you to a place of stuck. If you leverage your thinking processes, you will engage in thriving behaviors. Test yourself:

  • Can you clearly describe why you are doing the things you are doing right now?
  • Do you have time blocked off on your calendar every week to think about your business?
  • Does your calendar align with your strategy and marketing plan?
  • Do you offer your personal best to all parts of your life?
  • Do you say no to distractions and feel good about it?
  • Do you consistently avoid or mitigate self-sabotaging behaviors?
  • Would you describe yourself as physically and mentally vibrant?
  • Do you feel essentially fulfilled by your life?

If any of your answers are no, or if you feel stuck or like you are running hard but not getting to where you want to go, try some of the simple techniques in this article.

Michele Gervais is a business solutions consultant from London, Ontario, Canada, who specializes in working with financial advisors. She spoke at the 2020 MDRT Annual Meeting and Global Conference Virtual Event. Find the video in the Resource Zone at


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