Your Mind is the Sum of Habits

Last week, I had the honor to speak about how to create opportunity out of uncertainty in Brookings, South Dakota, for the Women in Leadership Summit with my good friend Jill Orton. After I finished, the emcee, Katie, asked me if I would answer a question about when I failed and what I did to bounce back.

I told her of course, and when the Q&A started, I was ready for the question. What we all were not counting on were the amount of questions that came from the audience, so I never got to that question.

So, Katie, this is for you.

Many times, I did not get the outcome I was shooting for. As I share in my new talk, I am an athlete, and in athletics, I always had a game plan before I competed, just like I had during the Miracle on the Hudson, “aisle, up, out.”

And like most people, sometimes you fail even with a game plan.

I found when I failed, it forced me to think. As I thought about it, to truly understand why and how I failed, I had to visualize AND feel it.

When I felt it, I had what Napolean Hill would say, drifting and what Dan Sullivan would call, gap.

Everybody drifts.

Drifting is nothing but a negative state of mind, a state of mind conspicuous by its emptiness of purpose.”– Napolean Hill

When you are drifting, you let other’s opinions and comments infiltrate your mind and body. You let others’ thoughts make you feel like you are not enough. You are playing by their terms rather than your terms.

When I drift, it is because I let outside forces take me off course toward my mission. I know I am better than my performance, and though I need to have the mindset of resiliency to succeed consistently.

That is why having a mentor in your life is so important: to help you build the grit and discipline to make progress and stop drifting. A mentor will help you build boundaries so that you can focus.

My mentor forced me to not only work harder but also develop a mindset of resiliency. More importantly, I developed new habits because your mindset is the sum of all your habits. New habits lead to discipline, and discipline leads to resiliency.

Once I learned this and acted on it, I had the power of rhythm. Rhythm leads to momentum and once I had momentum, I was on my way to bouncing back.

When I resolved to go back into the Hudson River to swim with the Navy Seals and Suzanne, I employed this strategy. I wouldn’t say I was drifting, but I was all over the place. To swim the 3.1 miles across the rough Hudson River takes a mindset of resiliency.

I had to develop new habits like getting up every morning at 3:50 am to swim doing cryotherapy to reduce the inflammation in my body and a new supplement strategy. Those habits developed new disciplines and a mindset of resiliency.

When working with groups or individuals struggling or in a state of depression, I find they are usually in a state of “drifting” or “living in the gap.” What I have found is when I start to drift or go to the gap, it is because I am not intentionally putting myself daily around positive information, people, thoughts, and surroundings.

To combat the constant negativity within the media, politics, people, and organizations, I employ my habits of interacting with my “top 20” club, those positive folks who will be straight up with me; I buy a new audiobook so I can listen to new empowering content and I look backward throughout my recent past so I can see all the things I have accomplished.

This strategy quickly takes me out of the gap, stop drifting, and into a state of gratitude. If you live in a state of gratitude, you will not be able to drift or be in the gap as you will be giving thanks to something bigger than yourself, and grace will start flowing.

If you are drifting, you are living in uncertainty, remember your mission, take massive action, and put yourself around the right associations and you will begin to create opportunity out of uncertainty.