When I was 15, my dad told me I should be playing for the girl’s national team. “You are definitely good enough.” I objected fiercely: “Are you kidding? Those girls are awesome. I don’t belong in that league!” Just playing my beloved football was enough for me, so I thought. We debated back and forth, and neither of us managed to convince the other.
I continued living according to my story, until – out of the blue – I got an invitation to join the U16 national team. I got chosen straight to the Nordic tournament without participating in any of the qualifying national team camps. The coach took a big chance on me.
At first, I felt like I didn’t belong at all. It was like being an imposter whose true identity would be revealed at any second. But after the first practices it slowly dawned me that even if the national team consisted of very good players, I actually felt I could compete with them. And even more – I absolutely loved playing with and against top quality players. They made me want to grow.
For me this was a huge shift in mindset – a true mindshift. I had gone from telling myself the story of just playing for fun and not being good enough when eyeing up the next levels. Granted, I wasn’t the most talented or most technical player, but slowly I started to see entirely new possibilities for my playing.
New story – new reality
These new, really inspiring and a bit scary dreams allowed me to challenge myself more. Up until then I hadn’t bothered doing anything with my weaknesses – or systematically developing my strengths. It had been so easy to go along with the team trainings, but not really taking charge of my own development.
I realized that if I wanted to keep playing on this higher level, I needed to take charge of my story and introduce some new principles to my training. (This sounds very fancy now – the truth is that at the age of 15 it was probably more like: “Cool! Want to be here! Must train more! Can’t use my left foot. Must train left foot…” and so on.)
Slowly I started to experience results and feel less like a sheep in wolves’ clothing when receiving the next invitation. Football, and the personal and collective mindshifts I experienced during my years of active playing, ended up shaping me as a person probably far more than I can ever fully understand.
Our minds are, of course, equally adept to making negative interpretations of events which can create negative, limiting mindsets.
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
– Daniel J. Boorsti
If you have an area in your life (including work) where you feel a bit stuck or you are just going with the flow, there is a good chance you have adopted a story that sets limits to your potential.
This does not mean we need to excel in every part of our lives, far from it. Sometimes “going with the flow” and just taking things as they come is the best choice. As long as it is a conscious choice and not set out by the powerful brain of ours.
So, the question is: If there is a limiting story playing out your mind that affects your thoughts, feelings, your behavior and the decisions you take negatively, what can you do?
Should you just sit fingers crossed, hoping that some awesome leader will stroll along, see you, and wave her magic wand with the purpose of creating a golden mindshift-moment for you?
YES! Absolutely! And that leader is you.
Who do you want to follow?
In her recent blog post (https://nordicleadershipnetwork.com/would-i-choose-to-follow-you/), Nordic Leadership Network member Auli Luukkanen-Lääperi asks us the question: Who would you like to follow? I think one, and maybe the most important answer, should be “me, myself and I”.
I don’t know about you, but looking really closely at my leader inside, and listening to her, can be a true revelation. I realized that that leader was very human, oftentimes having moments of weakness, going around aimlessly in circles. But when connecting with the right kind of story, she was also capable of a remarkable generation of inspiration, power, trust and calm.
In hindsight, I had been able to connect with that side of my inner leader when having my initial mindshift in football. Granted, it was an outside event, another person, who had triggered this connection, but it had enabled me to see myself differently, and permitting me to rebuild my story through five lenses:
- Beliefs and assumptions
- External environment and other resources
After my mindshift I allowed myself to gradually shift my identity from a passionate hobby-player to an actual football player, later even to a competitive athlete.
Some of my beliefs and assumptions shifted in an instant, while other needed a bit longer to take form:
- “If it gets too serious, it’s not fun anymore.” →“Football is always fun. Becoming better makes football even more fun.”
- “I’m just a try-hard player without any special talents.” →“Like everyone, I also have a unique set of gifts and strengths, some still unappreciated, unrevealed and undeveloped. I can have a big impact on uncovering these.”
Up until my mindshift, playing had equaled going to team trainings and games. My new story supported a different kind of behavior on top of that. I started setting clear development goals and set aside time for individual training, focusing on both strengths and weaknesses. I engaged also my mind to build positive visuals about what I wanted to be happening. My new behaviour gave credibility to my story in my own ears.
I had not been interested in listening to anyone regarding developing into a competitive athlete in my sport. This shifted gradually as I realized there were many supportive people out there who had more wisdom and knowledge about this than I had – and actually wanted to give it to me. I started actively listening to and engaging with people and ideas which resonated with me. My father became one of the most important influencers for me, even if the rebel in me still wanted to create the story “my way”.
My new story enabled me to shift the role of being a victim under harsh circumstances (“You can’t really train football in the winter in icy Finland.”) tocreating my own training spaces. This, of course, involved a few broken lamps at home, but thankfully I had a younger brother to blame that on.
Rewriting your story
So, if you want to rewrite your story, use these five lenses to check through your current story.
At each lense ask yourself the question: Does this lense empower me or hold me back?
If you realize that you need a new glass for that lense, continue asking:
What mindset needs to colour my new lense so that I feel _____ (empowered / excited / calm / proud (or other empowering emotions)?
When you have checked all five lenses, what kind of new story can you see emerging?
In what area of your work (or the larger picture for life) would you like to take charge of your story and create and new, more empowering, inspiring and liberating playbook?
How about your team – what’s the current story there?
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you feel a spark of curiosity and want to engage in “future-proofing your leadership”!
(This blog was originally published by Christina on March 19, 2019 on the NLN home page www.nordicleadershipnetwork.com .)