There was an incredibly interesting and, in my opinion, a mind-blowing study conducted in 1981 by Psychologist Ellen Langer on the power of the mind and aging. She recruited 8 men in their 70’s and placed them for 5 days in a converted monastery in New Hampshire in the United States of America.
Inside the building, Langer had re-created their world 22 years prior – from the shows on the TV, to the music playing on the radio, to the books and magazines lying around. There were no mirrors, no modern clothing – only photos of themselves 22 years ago.
When they entered the house, they were told to not only reminisce about their life 22 years ago but to actually make a psychological attempt to be the person they were 22 years ago. Langer told the men, “feel as you did in 1959.”
From the moment they entered the building, they were treated as though they were younger – they were even told that they had to carry up their belongings upstairs to their room, even if they had to do it one shirt at a time.
Before arriving, the men were assessed on such measures as dexterity, grip strength, flexibility, hearing and vision, memory and cognition, and then they were tested on these again at the end of the study.
What Langer found was that the group outperformed the control group (who’d entered the house prior to them and who were simply told to reminisce about life 22 years ago) on several measures. They were suppler, showed greater manual dexterity and sat taller. Perhaps most unlikely, their sight improved. Independent judges said they even looked younger. At the end of the study, the 8 men were even seen playing a match of touch football while waiting for the bus to take them all home.
It makes you wonder how each one of us is holding ourselves back, simply by the way we think and the way in which we perceive the world, ourselves and each other?
And, how much are the people we lead holding themselves back by the way they are thinking and perceiving the world around them?
The greatest gift you can give another human being is to change the way they think and in these challenging times right now, many of your people are more than likely are struggling – some a little, and some could be struggling quite a bit, though they probably won’t admit it to you.
This affects their performance and it can greatly hinder the unity and harmony of your team. If people have a negative mindset or are not optimistic about the future for instance, this can taint how they see everything and hinder their performance, even if there are many positive things going on around them.
When you have people with a negative mindset, it can bring down the whole team if you let it continue for too long.
How is your thinking right now?
How is the thinking of your team right now?
A very effective way I change my mindset is Visualisation.
During the last 2 months, I’ve been seriously ill, dropping 15.5kg in just 8 weeks along with all the other symptoms that went along with my Thyroid infection. I’ve never been so ill. Just prior to my illness, we’d moved to the Gold Coast, leaving behind our support network in Sydney, COVID19 hit affecting our businesses (like it has done for so many of you), and then, my beautiful father in law passed away in New Zealand without us being able to be by his side. It’s been an incredibly testing time, to say the least.
For those who know me, I’m regarded as a very passionate, driven and optimistic leader, but going through all of this has certainly tested my positive mindset. I had some very dark moments.
Now I only share this with you, to highlight the power of deliberately focussing on what you want to have happen in the future, to give you hope, to enable you to pull through and to prevent you from going down a rabbit warren of worry and despair. When all I could do was lie in bed, I’d clearly picture myself in places where I wanted to return to or things I wanted to do when I was better and when COVID 19 was over.
For example, I’d visualise playing golf with my mates, on one of my favourite golf courses of all time, Barnbougle, in Tasmania. I’d remember the smell of the fresh-cut grass of the fairway and the salty ocean wind hitting our faces as we made our way around the course. I’d hear the “thwack” when I’d hit the ball so cleanly from the tee and watch it arc through the air before landing on the green. I’d laugh as I replayed in my mind the banter between us all. I’d really focus on it, to put my mind in a better place than where it was tempted to go (downhill).
I’d also visualise over and over, where I can see my businesses going and would lie there, planning how to move forward and I called upon 3 really strong, positive men in my life, including my dad, to encourage me, to speak into my life, affirming to me that I’d rise above my challenges.
What’s something extremely positive you and your people can focus on right now individually, and together as a team?
Who can you ask to speak into your life to encourage you in your darker moments?
How can you encourage your people?
Can I encourage you to deliberately find ways to move your thinking into more positive and hopeful territory?
I trust my blog today has stimulated you to do this and to help your people do this too – to supercharge your thinking and unite it for the challenging months that lie ahead.
I trust you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.
Take care and keep climbing,
**Note: If you’re struggling to lift your mood, to see light at the end of the tunnel, or just feel down a majority of the time, you’re not alone and you may need to seek professional help. Beyond Blue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
If you’d like to learn more about my strategies for creating unity and harmony, we’ve just launched our new LEADING4GROWTH ONLINE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM. In it, I go into great depth about how to create unity and harmony within the team you lead, and much more. Click here for more information.