I’ve learnt something about the power of switching on and off in these recent troubled days. The more we have all been appalled by the terrible events unfolding internationally, the more I, as a self-confessed news junkie, have realised the importance of mindset in the way we connect – and then emphatically disconnect – from the news.
The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius is perhaps best known for his view that “the happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts”. But he had other gems too up his magic sleeve of quotations, and the following feels the most relevant right now: “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength”.
Mindset, of course, plays a critical role in how you cope with life’s challenges. In business, we talk about fixed and growth mindsets a lot. The former suggests a fait accompli around what we will or won’t achieve; the latter a more optimistic view of our potential for progress. As I watched the news unfold last week, I found myself slipping into a fixed mindset of “What’s the point of what I’m doing?”, feeling small and helpless in the face of mind-boggling and enormously bad news.
Normally, I let the news waft across me all day but last week something clicked for me – I listen to 30-minute news bulleting once a day and then I switch it off.
I felt much better as a result. My life and business dreams are still worth pursuing and their delivery must still be rooted in every day. I feel a sense of calm by focusing on the here and now.
I still want to start each day with the same set of thoughts or principles and ask myself specific questions: what kind of person do I want to be? Where do I want to be in five years’ time?
The news is important, but its content is ever-changing. Mindset is an ongoing work in progress throughout your life. We need to keep believing in the here and now, whatever is happening out in the world, you will be able to inspire others to do the same.
Ultimately, what we think will affect the outcomes that we create. And in troubled times, that’s more important than ever to realise.