Coaching Mindset: Myths about Mindset

By Colm O’Reilly, Certified Two-Brain Business Mentor and founder of

Part I

When talking to your clients about mindfulness, you can start by addressing their misconceptions. Here are four of the top eight (I’ll share the rest tomorrow!)

1: You either have it or you don’t.


The biggest myth about mindset is that people either have a good mindset, or they don’t. This exists mainly because most of us don’t know what mindset is and how to train it!


Mindset refers to our attitude towards ourself, our life and our challenges. It does mean we carry the belief that we’re invisible and cannot fail. More accurately it’s our assurance that we’ll be okay regardless of what happens, that our worth isn’t dependent on any outcome or validation from another. A healthy mindset allows us to be okay with our nerves/anxiety as we step outside our comfort zone.


All of these can be trained. Much like physical skills such as walking, driving a car, or lifting weights, mental skills can be taught and refined, even if you’ve never deliberately focused on them before.


Our brains are wired to adapt, that’s their job. Sometimes we adapt to beliefs that are no longer helpful to us, like the belief that mindset is fixed and you can’t change it!


In the same way that physical change takes time, and you mightn’t notice the immediate effects, bit by bit we can improve our mindset – which enriches every other aspect of our life.


2: You have to be callous to succeed/I Don’t Want to Lose My Edge


Many of us believe we need to be ruthless to achieve our outward goals. The only way we can be a success is to be ruthless.


There is a huge difference between being ruthless and being committed to your mission. Ruthlessness would be characterized as a disregard for the externalities of your decision. The externalities are the affects one’s actions have on other people and the environment.


Being clear, and doing things for the right reasons, allows you to kindly decline anything which doesn’t serve your mission.


Ruthlessly following a purpose is an attempt to compensate. It’s fear driven. Conscious healthy striving looks and feels a lot different than a ruthless, relentless pursuit. There is no evidence to suggest that being harsh on oneself improves productivity. (It definitely doesn’t improve happiness or peace of mind!)


Okay so maybe we don’t want to be callous or ruthless, but we are afraid if we start meditating we’ll lose our edge?


Michael Jordan was the greatest to ever play the game of basketball. And he had a mindset coach. Do you think he lost his edge? Mindset work improves our ability to focus, our understanding of our motivation, and our ability to let mistakes go and concentrate on the next moment. All of which sharpen our edge.

3: Exercising / Working / Friends / Family Is My “Me” Time


Working out is important. Your body is designed to move and there’s a connection between the mind and the body that’s impossible to deny.


We need strong bonds with people we can trust to share our vulnerabilities. Talking with a friend can help declutter your mind.


These are strategies that are either used to indirectly improve our mindset and mental well-being or improvements in our mind are secondary benefits, and not the primary aim of what we’re doing. We want to lose weight and keep our heart healthy, and it just so happens that we feel better and think clearer after a good sweaty workout.


When we invest a short amount of time daily to directly improve our clarity of thought, our mental models, and our emotional health, we improve our lives so much more than if we just left it to chance.


Secondly, without taking the time to explore the mind and emotions, we can be not only limiting the impact movement, nutrition and connection can have on our mental health, but also limiting the benefit from taking part in exercise, healthy living and good conversation.


We want every part of our lives to enrich every other part, mindset training helps us see clearly if we’re living in alignment and reinforcing positive healthy behaviours throughout our day.


4: I Don’t Need Mindset, I Just Need This Other Problem Solved or I Need to Achieve This


It’s very tempting to believe that the cause of all our stress and mental anguish is directly related to events and people outside of us. People may be able to push our buttons, but they’re not 100% responsible for them.


I used to think this way, if only this would happen, or I could achieve this level, then I’d feel calm and happy. It was only when I started to work on my inner game that I truly was able to give my best to my outer world, and start making meaningful progress on the things I wanted to achieve.


Another way of looking at this is we all know the person who stays busy trying to accomplish everything as a way of avoiding painful thoughts and emotions. In the short term they can be quite “successful” but it can come undone at any time. Or they’re outwardly living it up while inside they’re miserable. (How many celebrities have you seen rise to the top only to later discover they hated every second of it?)


Sacrificing mental peace of mind for material or career achievement isn’t success. Neither is sacrificing career advancement for inner peace. Both strategies are incomplete without the other. Working on both together is where the real magic happens!

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