Ryan Gottfredson is a successful mindset expert. Mindsets as the lenses we wear to help us interpret and engage with the world. In our conversation, we talk about how we expand and shift mindsets limiting our experience and no longer serving us.
About Success Mindsets
A Wall-Street Journal and USA Today Best-Seller.
Success Mindsets helps natural achievers, stalled professionals, and business executives unlock greater success in their life, work, and leadership.
“Mindsets” is a word that is used quite frequently, however, many of those who use it are unaware that mindsets are foundational to and dictate one’s success in life, work, and leadership. They are also unable to identify specific mindsets that are necessary for success. Ryan Gottfredson has created a comprehensive and research-based guide, Success Mindsets, that is designed to awaken readers to:
- The power of mindsets
- The four mindsets they need to have to be successful
- The mindsets they currently possess through personal mindset assessment
This awakening process empowers readers to unlock the greatness within themselves and reach the heights of success that they have been seeking but have thus far been unable to obtain. Within Success Mindsets, Ryan takes readers on a self-awakening journey to identify and unlock the four success mindsets necessary to enhance success across their life, work, and leadership.
About Ryan Gottfredson
Ryan Gottfredson, Ph.D. is a cutting-edge mindset author, researcher, and consultant. He helps improve organizations, leaders, teams, and employees by improving their mindsets. Ryan is the Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-selling author of “Success Mindsets: The Key to Unlocking Greater Success in Your Life, Work, & Leadership” (Morgan James Publishers). He is also a leadership professor at the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at California State University-Fullerton. He holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources from Indiana University, and a B.A. from Brigham Young University.
As a consultant, he works with organizations to develop their leaders and improve their culture (collective mindsets). He has worked with top leadership teams at CVS Health (top 130 leaders), Deutsche Telekom (500+ of their top 2,000 leaders), and a couple dozen other organizations. As a respected authority and researcher on topics related to leadership, management, and organizational behavior, Ryan has published over 17 articles across a variety of journals including: Leadership Quarterly, Journal of Management, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Business Horizons, Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, and Journal of Leadership Studies. His research has been cited over 2,000 times since 2014. Connect with Ryan at ryangottfredson.com
Aaron: Brothers and sisters, welcome back to another episode of work life play. We are on a hunt to engage our life with gusto, suck the marrow from life to be who we are and go the whole way.
And make no apologies for it while cleaning up any messes we might create along the way. My guest today is Ryan Gottfredson. Dr. Ryan has some call him as he's a PhD professor mindset expert, author consultant, really, really, really sharp dude. So we had a great conversation about mindsets and about how mindsets are really a set of lenses, like glasses that we put on that actually like rose colored glasses, right? People use that phrase. It's like putting on a pair of glasses and then with a mindset, like for instance, you might have a growth mindset, so you might be like really drawn to learning. And so as a learner, when you put on those glasses that you're approaching the world with curiosity, like just kind of curious. So what's that about? I wonder how that works, that show how things are made, right?
And, um, or you put on a set of glasses, that's a fixed mindset that might influence you as you interact with the world and with people. And you think that everything is static, fixed and unchanging. And so when you have conversation with someone, if that's what you believe, then those set of glasses then would influence your thinking and your interpretation about your neighbor.
Oh yeah. I had a conversation with that neighbor, you know, last summer, last time I connected with them and when they were a, B and C fill in the blank, then you know what, I bet they're exactly the same as they were. What's beautiful is that as we begin to look at the unconscious of how these mindsets are showing up in our life and what results they're influencing. So those of us that hold positive mindsets and Brian walks us through these four frames of mindsets, the four primaries, we can then look at how they're positively influencing other areas of our life in our work, our life, and our play, our relationships, as well as those of us that hold negative mindsets.
And it's all a continuum and it's not about getting it right, but it's about making the unconscious conscious so that we can begin to actually do something about it and begin to seed in micro shifts, changes new habits, experiments in our life. So we can actually experience more of what we're after. I know you're going to love all of Ryan's work. You can find that ryangotfredson.com brand new book just came out. You got to pick it up free test on mindsets and profile that you can do at his website as well. I found it incredibly helpful and you'll hear it throughout the conversation we had. And it's definitely Ryan, as a guest, I will have back soon. So check it out, friends, this is good for you. Keep going. You can do this and you are worth it.
So one of the things I was looking at, um, Ryan is in your work. So went through and did your assessment, which is super helpful. And I want to ask questions about it and you, what I really appreciated about the framing that you provide on mindsets. And I would say, this is one of the more simple explanations I've seen and read is that you said that mindsets are the mental lenses that shape how we view the world and how we operate within it. So it starts there. And B go to the beginnings. I feel like mindsets is a buzzword these days. So reclaim the integrity of the idea of mindsets for us and help us understand what it really means and how we can translate it to actually doing something about it versus just being a watercooler term people use.
Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah, no, thank you. Thanks for that invitation. So our mindsets have three primary jobs. So when we encounter a new situation, um, our senses are picking up all sorts of information and sending that to our brain and the information that our brain is taking on is way more than we can process. So the first job our mindsets play is to filter in specific information that our mindsets deemed most important for us to, to kind of hold onto and latch onto. So that's the first job that mindsets play. The second job that mindsets play is they interpret that information that comes in in unique way.
So between these two jobs, this explains why two people can see or step into the same exact situation, but respond to it very differently. So I have a wife who is deathly afraid of clowns. She was exposed to it when she was like two years old by her older brother. So she's definitely afraid of clowns me. On the other hand, I grew up in, in Utah and during the summer and Utah, there's a lot of rodeos. So to me, when I see a clown, the first thing I think about is a rodeo clown. And so when we, when we're just maybe watching commercials and a clown pops up, my, my wife will jump and I'll get a smile on my face. And what's going on here is just, we've got these neuroconnections in our prefrontal cortex, which are these mindsets that are identifying what information that we need to take in, and then interpreting that information in unique ways and based upon the information that we take in and how we interpret it, then the mindsets play their third role, which is to activate our responses to that information that takes in.
So we activate different elements of our personality system. And so that's why she'll jump and I'll smile like, so it's just activating something different within us. Does that make sense?
Aaron: Yeah, it's super helpful. So I think what I appreciate about what you're saying is the providing scientific value for in our own survival, how that science is at play in us for our benefits and our survival and navigating the world. But also what you're highlighting is that there's also a story behind each of the examples you gave. So there was a story that got installed as a template within your wife's life. At age two, there was a story that got installed in the template of your operating system, in the deserts of Utah in the summer with rodeo clowns, know the stories, get activated by present day experiences that, right?
Ryan Gottfredson: Yes. That's for sure. The case. So it's different stories. It's also the culture that we're a part of when we approach a situation or approaching this, do we, do we try to avoid problems or are we trying to reach goals? And, and in fact, one of the things that I just saw, a research paper that was just published in personnel psychology, and what they found is that when an organization promotes both of those ideas, simultaneously reaching goals and avoiding problems, employees are less committed than if they then if they promote one or the other.
Aaron: If you say avoiding problems or reaching goals are the two choices and they're presented in tandem together, you're saying what, then the employees respond how.
Ryan Gottfredson: That they are less committed. Like, so they're getting mixed messages and they're not able to kind of commit and attach an emotional way to that organization and what they're trying to do.
And so one, so it's better to promote one versus the other. And then out of the two, it's always best to promote this promotion mindset or this, this striving to reach goals as opposed to avoid problems.
Aaron: So I think that's a good segue too, into your, when I took your mindset assessment and the results that came out, one of the first lenses that you go into is on a growth mindset, right. Or a fixed mindset. Is that the contrast of the two?
Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah. So, um, in my work, I focus on four different sets of mindsets. These aren't mindset sets that I've created that have been out there and in academia for the last 30 years in different disciplines. So psychology, education, marketing, and management, and I've just pulled these together into one framework. So the, the mindsets that I focus on are not the only mindset so we can focus on, but they're the ones with the most backing.
And, and each of these sets of mindsets exist on a continuum from negative to positive. I mean, it just naturally has come out in the research. And so going back to what you were talking about with fixed and growth mindsets is that's one of these four sets that I focus on and on the negative side is this fixed mindset. And on the positive side along this continuum is the growth mindset. And so we can dive into what they are, but theoretically our mindsets personally, or even organizationally fall somewhere along this continuum. And the more that we are on the growth mindset side, the more we're going to process and behave in our world more effectively.
Aaron: And one of the things you said in your assessment that I thought was really powerful is you say here that positive mindsets lead to positive life and work outcomes while the negative mindsets generally lead to negative life and work outcomes. And it feels to me that the operative word there is outcomes. So say more about that, of how those end up being fused together. It's like almost a math equation that you've outlined there.
Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah. Let me give you an example with my, with my nephew. So, and, and I could relate to this because there's times that I've had a fixed mindset, but my nephew have as has historically had a fixed mindset. And when I've seen this at play, is that when, when we would play board games, so monopoly risks, settlers of Catan or something like that. If we ever got to the point where he knew he was going to lose, he would topple the table
Who the hell topples the table of the game, right. You know, 10 or 12 years old. That's who does.
Yeah. So he, what what's going on there is this fixed mindset. He doesn't believe that he could change his talents, abilities, and intelligence. And we, when we don't believe that we could change our talents, abilities, intelligence, and we fail, we're left to interpret that as though we are a fellow failure. And so in his mind, when he loses at a board game, that is his mindsets are telling him that that's a signal, that he is a loser. And so as a way to combat that, he stops the game altogether. So he doesn't technically lose. Um, whereas somebody with a growth mindset, if they were to lose an, a board game, or for me, in my instance, I got to the lowest grade I'd ever received in a chemistry class, my freshman year, which is a C grade, which was to me a failure is I rather than dive in and explore why I got a C grade.
And it turns out I probably didn't have the best study habits. And you know, who would've thought that wanting to become a medical doctor would have been difficult. But my natural reaction was to change my major as opposed to double down on my study. So what we're finding is depending upon our mindsets, it's causing us to think, learn and behave in either less effective ways, or it opens up opportunities to, to think and behave in more effective ways, depending upon our mindsets. And the last 30 years of research has said that having a fixed mindset causes us to process and behave in less effective ways than those that have a growth mindset.
Aaron: And so I think what I hear you saying is, um, it's directional, right? It's, they're directional correlations between if your world is, is, is really small and you're trying to control and manage it. And I better win every match of Catan, or in business. I've been around a lot of adults that play life like that too, or doesn't like that, versus the, what might I learn here? And, but it's based on a fundamental belief in the documentation that you were sent over, I was reading through is, is that it is based on a belief that I can change and improve.
Ryan Gottfredson: Yes.
Aaron: Right. That I'm not fixed like as a human. My brain's not my body's not. Yeah, I might. So I'm 48 now I'm more gray hair, but that doesn't mean that I'm somehow, like at the end of my, my best years are behind me is one of my older buddies, wiser, wiser, older friend says, as soon as you begin believing and telling yourself that your best years are behind you, then you begin operating out of what we would call here as a fixed mindset. Right.
Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah. Precisely.
Aaron: That's great. Okay. Good. Okay, cool. We'll keep walking us through. So that was number one was, um, fixed versus growth, but you go ahead and give us the other three and frame those out for us, and then we'll explore together.
Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah. The next set is the difference between a closed being on the negative side and open being on the positive side. And this is just how open our minds are to the ideas and suggestions of others. Um, so when we have a closed mindset, we generally think that what we know is best. And when we see our, our bucket is being full, whenever we pour something into it, we're unable to absorb it. It just runs off of the side.
But those that have an open mindset, they may be experts, but they're still leaving room for, in their bucket for the idea that they could be wrong. And when we create that space, there's a change of focus that these mindsets create an individual. So those are the closed mindset they they're focused on being seen as, right. Those that have an open mindset, don't concern are not concerned about being right or wrong. They're concerned about finding truth and thinking optimally. And so w how this plays out is those are the closed mindset. Generally are the one answering questions. They're limiting feedback, limiting new perspectives. Those with an open mindset are asking questions and inviting feedback, inviting new perspectives.
Aaron: Perfect. Keep going. Number three.
Ryan Gottfredson: The third set is the difference between a prevention and a promotion mindset. So when we have a prevention mindset, which we've kind of talked about this a little bit where our primary focus is on not losing, and when we have a promotion mindset, our primary focus is on winning and gains. And I think it's interesting to think how this plays out and to give you an analogy. If we have a prevention mindset, and we're a ship captain in the middle of the ocean, our number one focus is going to be on not sinking.
So if we don't want any problems to occur, we don't want to take any risks. We don't want to rock the boat. But when storm comes, when a storm comes on the horizon, as it inevitably will, those are the prevention mindset, because they're concerned about sinking is they run from the storm to a place of safety.
And where they go to a place to safety is probably not their intended destination when they first set out. So what ends up happening is those are the prevention mindset they get blown about by the winds and the currents of the sea. And they end up in a destination. They did, they didn't intend for themselves. Those are the promotion mindset. It's not that they're not concerned about sinking, but their number one focuses on a destination and making progress towards it. And so when that storm comes, and if that storm stands between them and their destination, then they're going to buckle down. They're going to batten down the hatches and prepare to face the storm.
And then they become willing to risk, take the risks necessary to get through that storm, because that's the only way that they can get to their destination. So at a high level, those, the differences, those with the prevention mindset have a tendency to be more comfort focused. And those are the promotion mindset are more purpose focused.
Aaron: Okay. That's super helpful. And then number four.
Ryan Gottfredson: The last one is the difference between an inward mindset and an outward mindset. So inward is on the negative side. When we have an inward mindset, we see ourselves as being more important than others. And when we see ourselves as being more important than others, we have a tendency to see others as objects. When we have an outward mindset, we see others as being just as important as ourselves their needs and wants matter just as much as our own. And when we see others in this way, we're able to see as people.
And this is out of the four sets. At least currently is the one that I struggle with the most. I think I come in and out of it throughout the day. And I think maybe most people do. But, um, so I'm in Southern California where we typically have a lot of traffic we haven't lately. But there's been times where somebody has put on their blinker wanting to merge into my lane and, and rather than let them in, I've sped up. Right.
I don't know how many other people have done this. A lot of Californians, I think have, but this, this is an example of having an inward mindset, because what I'm saying in that moment is my position in this lane is more important to me than it is for you.
And it's honestly, it's a pretty jerk thing to do because what's the end result. I get to my destination three less seconds than I would otherwise. And, but in order for me to justify that, what I generally tell myself is not, I didn't let that person in. I'll say I didn't let that car in. I'm objectify a person. And that's what happens
Aaron: There was actually another fellow journeymen in that vehicle on their way to work also.
Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah, precisely. But if I see them as a person, then naturally I'm going to let them in because their feelings and wants matter just as much as my own. And I'm going to be sympathetic
to that position. So hopefully that's an example people can relate to.
Aaron: Yeah. That's super helpful. Um, what I was doing while you were talking through those three or four, as I was looking at my assessment and kind of mapping them out, just like, just see them visually. So in the fixed and growth in the inward versus outward that we were just discussing the prevention versus promotion, the closed versus open. And one of the things you used the word earlier, a continuum, and in this continuum, then this, um, one of the things you also talked about in the, um, findings was that we can, we can change like there's science that's shows.
And even as you mentioned, even in, um, as small as like watching a three minute video on mindsets can improve your mindset, which then directionally back to the quote we read earlier, there's a correlation between positive and negative. So the more you walk in the direction of positive shifts in your mindset, even at a three minute incremental level that can have other ancillary benefit in your life. Right. That's the link.
Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah. Can I share a research study that demonstrates that? I think in really interesting way, this study came out of, um, the last economic downturn that we had, which was in 2008. So the study actually occurred in 2009 with a financial organization.
As you can imagine, they're really stressed out. And so the researchers came in and they divided up these financial advisors into two different groups and they showed one group, a three minute video about how stress is debilitating and that all, all of the information, a video was backed by research. Then they showed the other group of three minute video about how stress is enabling also backed by research. And then what they did is they tracked their engagement, their performance, and their blood pressure over the next two weeks
Aaron: Engagement, performance, blood pressure.
Ryan Gottfredson: Yep.
And what they found after those three, after those two weeks is those that saw the three minute video about how stress is enabling had higher engagement, higher performance and lower blood pressure two weeks later. And so this is an example of how one small intervention could cause us to not only think differently, but behave differently and even our bodies respond differently to that situation.
Aaron: So fascinating as you say that, um, when I was making some notes before we started, I was writing, do you remember a wizard of Oz? And when they get lost and, um, it's lions and tigers and bears oh my, and I was just picturing that, like how interesting, like you could be lost in the woods, or you could be taking a walk in the woods. And, um, I've been with people who actually say that like, Oh my gosh, aren't you afraid of all of the bears?
Um, I spent a lot of time outdoors. Yeah. I've seen a bear like one time. So my mindset in the, in the wilderness is actually, my body is at peace and at ease. So my blood pressure is actually less and that's re replayed by reinforcement all the time. About every time I go outside, I'm restored and replenished, not anxiety written and being chased by a wild animal. Um, so it's, it's so fascinating that, um, even blood pressure that you get is all a new story about stress.
Ryan Gottfredson: There's a Ted talk on stress, which is fantastic. So her name is Kelly McGonigal. And she says in what, what stress researchers have found is that stress only has a negative impact on you. If you believe that stress is bad for you. In fact, the statistics that what she says, and she gets even into the physiology of this, but she essentially says that they've tracked deaths over a six year time period.
And, and they, at the start of the six year time period, they asked them, do you think that stress is bad for you and what they found? And they measured how much stress they had during this time. And what they found is that people that people were dying as, because of stress, not because of stress itself, but because of the belief that it is bad for you. So based upon the numbers that the research has suggested is that the belief that stress is bad for you is the 19th leading killer of people in the United States.
Aaron: Whoa, time out. The belief that.
Ryan Gottfredson: The belief that that's what the research kind of came down to because everybody is exposed to stress. But those that believe that it's bad for you die at a significantly greater rate than those that don't.
Aaron: Okay. Time out. I feel outed here. I believe that stress is bad for you, but actually do I believe that that's a good question. Hmm. That is a powerful one. So that's, what's really interesting is that is like a layer of the onion it's out of foundational level, because if we have these, like the story that we tell ourself, culturally is stressed out for you, right?
So we're all in this hyper vigilance or some just passivity too, just trying to figure out how to manage stress. But what you're saying is it's actually, yes, the stress we should pay attention to, but it's actually more than that. What's deeper than that is the belief. How do you map belief with mindsets and how do they work together as friends you benefit or to your detriment I guess?
Ryan Gottfredson: For most people, our mindsets are something that we're not conscious to, but they are things that we can become conscious too, because we can learn how the types of information that we are filtering into our brain and how we respond to those. So we can awaken to our mindsets. For example, a lot of times when I talk to different groups, I'll ask them, how do you see failure? How do you see disagreement? How do you see risk? How do you see an underperforming employee? And you get people that see these situations differently.
Some see failure's a good thing. Other people see it as a bad thing. Some see disagreement as an opportunity to learn other people, see it as a threat and they get defensive, right? Our mindsets drive naturally drive our automatic reactions to these different situations. Those mindsets are attached to some sort of a belief. And so it's sometimes in order to get it our mindsets, we first got to get at our beliefs. So that's where we go to the fixed and growth mindset. It's about our belief on whether or not we can change a inward or outward mindset is our belief about our importance relative to others or, or vice versa, others importance relative to ourselves. When we hear the word limiting beliefs, what we're starting to get at is some of our mindsets and assumptions associated with them. So we're assuming that we could change or not change.
Aaron: And how do you define values compared to beliefs?
Ryan Gottfredson: Good question. Um, yeah, I'm not sure to be honest with you, I'll have to sit that out
Aaron: well, just to riff on it together.
Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah.
Aaron: In the work that you and I both do in the world, um, that conversation comes up a lot is in this, I call it like the soup of mindsets, beliefs, values, and people start to kind of want to, to dissect just to understand. And so I really appreciate about your mindset's introduction. Their definition is, you know, that they drive our automatic responses and that somehow somewhere attached to our beliefs and what I've been exploring and looking more, in with client work, um, in humans is that values can be things that we uphold as important and priorities, and that they can sit side by side with belief.
So like, let's say for instance, for me, um, one of the things I really value is a physical wellness. So emotional, physical, spiritual wellness, that's a high, high value to me. Um, now what I believe is that, um, I'm here to do something with my life and how I do that, um, is about making impact. But I, I have to make sure that I'm paying attention to that value of emotional, physical, spiritual wellness in order to uphold this belief, which then links into purpose also in mission. But I think they are almost like they're subtle, but that they become friends. And so like, I'm one of the values that I have is autonomy. I really, I will choose and is a rub for me. I will choose autonomy and freedom of choice over certainty and like at a financial income level, that's one of the things that I've repeatedly revisited is, um, if I make this choice, it comes with more certainty, um, financially let's say.
But if I make this choice, I have more autonomy, freedom of choice, more uncertainty goes with that trade off. But then I go back to my values of what is it I value. Well, I know that when I'm at my best, I'm operating out of a place of high degree of autonomy and choice versus feeling like I start using language, like why have to, or when I don't say this is a long time ago, but they told me I had to be there or I start using that kind of language. And I realized, Oh, time out. Well, that's definitely a mindset versus now I will say things like I choose to I'm choosing like business travel. I'm choosing to go to San Francisco tomorrow versus I have to be in San Francisco tomorrow.
That's a subtle, but it's a, it might sound subtle on the surface. But to me, it's linked to very deep things. I start feeling like a victim, which is my choice, which is, um, what, I guess it would probably be on the maybe closed and fixed mindset side a little on the prevention side. When I start feeling that way, then I start showing up that way. And I'm not proud of how I show up, which then it shows up in my behavior, my attitudes, my moods, all those things. So anyway, I gave you a long riff there. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Ryan Gottfredson: No, it's good. Yeah. As you're saying that to me values kind of maybe are part of the guidepost and beliefs somewhat hold those up. And they, they work together and I, you know, I want to think more about how they work together. Cause I think you're right. They are different, but, but they work together so closely. And then I think mindsets are kind of like the foundation even below those. And one of the things that you brought up or maybe think about is it is important for us to be really intentional about our values.
So what I, what I heard you say is that you are very intentional about your values, that you've clearly thought out this dynamic between certainty and autonomy. Well, I, I think certain people have not thought it out to the level you have and they just naturally value certainty. Other people naturally value autonomy. Um, and there's a great book by Clayton Christianson. It's called, how will you measure your life? And, and I love that book because it invites you to be intentional about your values.
And as I've thought about values and largely kind of purpose is what I find is that most people have not identified a purpose for their life. And when we haven't intentionally identified a purpose for our life, we will develop default purposes for our life. And generally our default purposes are not necessarily what we value, but what the people we value and what they value. So it's our closest circle around us and what they value. So what makes somebody value, you know, want a large house or a nice car or designer jeans or whatever it might be. That's going to be contingent upon their closest peers, um, and what the people that they value and their values.
But I think that we need to be really intentional and set aside for ourselves and determine what do we value. And when I look at the great leaders that have done great things in the world, they haven't just valued what their peers around them value. They have chosen a value that goes beyond themselves and it is on some sort of a contribution to the lives of others. And so I think when we have that, our default values, they're generally a self focused value of, I want a big house. I want a nice car. I want a big bank again.
Aaron: Oh, I see what you're saying. Those are those externals, right? Yeah. I value this kind of career, this kind of recognition. Yeah. This kind of prestige, this kind of role versus intrinsic motivations or values.
Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah. And, and so when we, if we're intentional about our values, I think most often we will develop values that go beyond just ourselves and our own benefit to be able to contribute in a positive way to those around us.
Aaron: And in and of itself though, isn't that a value to say that I, I want to make a difference in the lives of others, which then links to when I feel on purpose or off purpose, I'm going to run past something past you. Um, on this topic of purpose, purpose really, really important to me and living on purpose is really, really important to me. And one of the things that I've found is that I'm working with many, many people that it's a deep struggle to feel this pressure of figuring out what is my purpose, what am I here to do and what if I get it wrong and all the other subsequent iterations of that.
And one of the mentors that I have really helped me, and there's two that actually come to mind. One of them specifically, she had talked about learning to pay attention awareness building over in the moment in the day, in the week, in the month, the season of the year, paying attention to when, what are the things that I'm doing when I feel and sense I'm on purpose and paying attention to that.
And being able to note that, and then at the same time, beginning to know when are the situations, circumstances, people, events, behaviors, choices, where I can begin to map where I start to feel off purpose. And to me where this really resonates a lot is spending a lot of time outside. I use map and compass quite a bit and pulling out the red arrow that points North and trying to align it with the housing to figure out where you're going. And then you set a direction of travel.
And so you may not know where the end you have an aspiration for what the destination would look like. And back country travel. This even works even greater for aviation and for, um, sailing in the ocean because you, you have a aspiration for where you would want to be, but then when you're dealing with all that happens in wilderness travel, then there's a lot that comes into play where you have to constantly adjust because you run into an obstacle that was unforeseen.
For instance, all of a sudden on the map, it looked like green set of trees. And then all of a sudden it's a talus field of giant boulders that's way gnarlier than we thought. So we figure out how do we, how are we going to navigate around this obstacle, which takes us off course, but we're intentionally choosing it. And I think what happens in our real life, my experience for me is I'll be, um, you know, let's say in a work setting and I'll be in a meeting. And I remember, you know, specific ones like talking about laying people off. And what I noticed is like, I would feel on purpose in this is, this is what we need to do for the business. This is the right thing to do, but I wouldn't feel off purpose if the way in which we were talking about the people, what was not honoring to them as humans and their contribution for all that they have done and are doing right now.
And so when I could begin to name, cause it wasn't that laying people off was the issue. It was the, how it was how I was doing it or how it was feeling my experience of it while I'm in the middle of it. So I'd love just to hear your response about this idea of paying attention to when, on purpose off purpose and that over time may inform us about bigger, big questions. Like what is my purpose? Because a lot of people just find that really impossible to start with.
Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah. I might just take it just in a slightly different direction. Cause I think you've kind of nailed it on the head and you've thought about some of those things more than I have because I'm there with you. I mean, even HBR, there's an HBR article where the consultants say that only 20% of the leaders that they've worked with have identified the specific purpose for themselves.
Aaron: And HBR for folks who don't know is what.
Ryan Gottfredson: Harvard business review.
Aaron: Yeah. Thanks.
Ryan Gottfredson: And, and so it's just that, you know, maybe the majority of us haven't necessarily defined a purpose for us and it may not be because we don't want to, or we don't know how to, it's just that it can be scary for us, right? Because we're suggesting that we're putting our flag down in something and we're not sure that we're comfortable with doing that.
And I, what I, what I try to help folks with the people I consult my students is like, what is not important is identifying the ultimate big purpose in your life right now, what is important is identifying a purpose that gets you forward. And what we've got to recognize is that as we mature and as we go on our path, naturally our purpose will mature with us. So what we need is a destination that we're shooting towards.
And as we go along, that will change and we will improve, and we will make our purpose more meaningful as we go along. But if we don't have a purpose to begin with, we will never set out on our journey. And so I think that we need to put less pressure on this big, this big, the purpose, and just find a purpose. And I think that that's, I think that that's a really critical starting point.
Aaron: And I'll build on what you just mentioned. There is, I'd also add setting a direction, can be equally liberating over setting a destination. What I've found really liberating with that is especially for friends of ours that are listening here that are feeling super stuck. They've been in the same job for a long time or, you know, relationally dynamics at home, whatever it may be. And they're just really feeling challenged to how could tomorrow look any different than today? Cause it feels like a bad, a cruel joke, um, how they're experiencing some of their life.
And what I find super liberating is just to say, well, what if we just pointed our toes in the direction? So I was on, um, with a coaching client today and we looked at the six different projects that he could potentially step forward. And I asked him, I said, it sounds to me like you're like in the middle of a Lake and you're standing on a rock and there's like six pavers that are surfacing above the water.
And all you can see are six choices for your next step. Like what does that, what's the tension? And he said, well, that is how I feel.
Um, and what stresses me out is, I don't know where any of them go after the next step where they end, which ones are dead ends, which ones are a waste of my time in which is the best one I should pick. And I just said, well, you know what? I wonder if like, maybe if it's about, um, just setting a direction with these mindsets of growth of openness, of promotion, of these different things, like, well then all of a sudden, does it take any of the pressure off of getting it right or wrong? And then that way, when you step on the next paver, it illuminates the next possibility. But you've gone ahead and got out of the wrangling of where does this end up? Which is a destination question. What are you thoughts on that?
Ryan Gottfredson: No, I love it. And I keep thinking about, have you heard of, are you aware of Mike Dooley? Does that name ring a bell at all? So Mike Dooley has a daily email. That's called notes from the universe and it's the first thing I read every morning. So I wake up every morning. I pulled my email and there's a note from the universe there. And it's just this inspirational thought. I love it. But he's written a book where he gives a very similar analogy to what you have in his book is called playing the matrix. And, and he uses a kind of a Google maps analogy. And he says that, okay, what is not important is identifying a specific destination, such as a certain city. What is important is identifying a broad outcome. Like, so an example that he uses is abundance, right? So we want to head and obtain abundance.
Well, he said, what you need to do is if you've got you're in a car, you've got your phone with this GPS on it. What you need to do is because you don't know where abundance is, the universe does. And so he says, the universe acts as this GPS is in order for you to activate the GPS for it, to send you messages. You can't sit where you are. You can't wait for inspiration. You've got to just go. And even if you go in the wrong direction shortly thereafter, the GPS will say, um, you turn go the other way.
Aaron: It's like walking in New York city when you're trying to figure out, is it left or right on fifth street. Yup, exactly. But you have to move in order for it to orient.
Ryan Gottfredson: And the idea is, is that because you're going to come to a place where you're thinking I've got to go straight here and the GPS is telling me go, right.
Well, what we've got to have faith in, in that moment is that the GPS or the universe knows that taking a right here will get us toward destination quicker than we're anticipating. So when we hit a roadblock and we're thinking, Oh no, I'm totally, I'm going to go completely off path. What we may not realize is if we were to head down that route, we may hit this ravine and we will have to backtrack later on. So, so just what, what, what he says. And I, I like the analogy is what matters is that you're moving and that you're following the direction of the universe. So kind of going back to your friend's example is what does it matter? You just got to jump off of this little Island you're on and swim towards one of them.
And then as you do that, you'll know whether or not it's the right one and, and who, you know, who cares what comes after, because you're going to learn so much in that journey between where you are and where you go, that, that you don't need to know necessarily what comes after that. Because it may be like, in my own instance, a couple of years ago, I decided I want to start up my own online course. And I did it. I invested some money and it was a complete flop. Like I had swung out to this piling, I'd gotten there. It's like that well that wasn’t what I wanted. But then I knew, okay, well, I, now I know it's one of the five other pilings.
I still learned that, you know, the way not to go, at least at that point in time. And there, there was value in that. So rather than look back on that situation and be defeated that I failed, I look back and say, I'm so grateful for that experience because I was able to stop investing my time and resources in a way that wasn't beneficial for me in the long term, because that was one of the things that I learned from. So hopefully that analogy I played.
Aaron: It's great. And I love the framing too, that you're saying, is that in the spirit of gratitude for, oh my gosh, I checked one off the list. Now we know we don't have to go this way. I will pull lessons from that and now there's only five more to explore. Right? Yeah. So another question for you, I'd love to get your feedback on this and close. So I'm going to give you my scores here. And, um, tell me, where are some opportunities for me to grow and show up differently? So I'd love some of your coaching. All right. So fix to growth mindset. I have a 6.75.
Ryan Gottfredson: So on a seven point scale. So that's really high.
Aaron: which is great scale. So it says your top 25% for growth mindset on, um, inward versus outward mindset. I'm a 5.8 slightly more outward than average. Then on closed and open, I'm a 5.6, which is slightly more open than average. And then on prevention versus promotion, I'm a 6.3, which is top 25% first. Um, you have a strong promotion mindset. So I'm strong in both growth and promotion and kind of similar on, on being outward and open.
So the lowest is on open versus closed. So one of the things I've been working my own personal development on is actually about, um, acceptance, which I think is open, you know, similar. And one of the things I've been doing is I actually been doing meditation for a couple of weeks on learning to build the muscle, to pay attention to what things I'm resisting while they're actually happening versus looking at it in the rear view mirror, and then saying, yeah, I'm not very open about A, B or C or so-and-so by name that actually paying attention to, Oh, actually what's happening is I want to be open, but I'm noticing I'm resisting. And it's been fascinating how much I resist. I'm like, Oh no. And back your opener.
I've made a lot of progress already in small ways. So I'd love just to hear your thoughts on how do you, how do you help someone like me that is not as open as I'd like to be?
Ryan Gottfredson: Now let's just say, so you're in the, you're really high compared to, in the database on both growth and, um, promotion mindsets. Um, and then you're in the third core tile for open and outward mindsets, but you're on the top end of that third core tile. So you're just borderline with that four third top core tile. So, you know, you've got, it looks like you've got really great mindsets, but there, as you're alluding to, there's still room for growth. And I would say that you could probably always grow in your mindset. Um, you kind of isolated in on this open idea of open mindsets.
And so regardless of what mindset we're focusing on, what we need to do is what you are doing is we've got to engage in practices that will activate our more positive mindset neuro connections and we can tailor those activities for specific mindset. So just as we, if we wanted to build muscle in our arm, we've got to hit the gym. We've got to exercise. The same thing goes with our positive mindset. We just got to exercise them. So your meditation practice, I think is fantastic, engaging in some deep learning, which I'll, I'll give you some, some suggestions in that regard is helpful. Watching videos related to those concepts can be helpful at journaling exercises are another form of exercise and, and engaging in more positive self-talk, which can be tied into some of that meditation. So those are all kind of different examples of the different workouts that we can engage in.
Aaron: I like that free workouts.
Ryan Gottfredson: Some of the resources that were, I think you could probably do some deep learning is I'll point you to a, there's a gentleman named Shane Snow and he's developed his own assessment around the idea of intellectual humility, which I think is essentially the same as open-mindedness, but he goes into like some really specific nuances that intellectual humility has different dimensions. And so maybe there's as you take his assessment, you can identify even within that, what dimensions you're stronger and which ones may need a little bit more work.
So I'll put you into a couple of books that I think are a couple of my top or most favorite business books, and maybe you've read them already, but one is Principles by Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater associates, and the whole book is essentially about being open-minded radical. Open-mindedness is radical transparency. And then the other book is, I think is my most favorite business book I've ever read is Creativity Inc. By Ed Catmull. Who's the founder of Pixar animation and then took over as head of Disney animation when Disney bought out.
Aaron: Yeah, actually I do know that one. Okay, cool. All right. Those are super. Ryan. Anything else in close for us too? In our tutorial here for the guest lecture from Ryan on mindsets. Yeah. What else do we need to know? And how can we turn this into a practice?
Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah. Great question. Let me maybe just button this up a little bit around one, one concept or one principle is what we are doing when we start to explore our mindsets and you've given some great examples of way that you've been doing that yourself is we've gotta be able to develop the capacity to look at what we typically look through. So in other words, what this really is, is we've got to become more mindful. We've got to be able to step outside of ourselves and be an aware of our thinking and our processing and fully these concepts that we've talked about around mindsets and putting labels to mindsets gives people the ability to do that better.
And what this ultimately does is because I actually think it's something that's even bigger than mindfulness is when we develop this capability of looking at what we typically look through, we're enhancing our mental maturity and our ability to navigate in complex environments. So we are currently in one of these very complex environments with COVID-19 and we will continually be put into more and more complex environments throughout our lives. And if, if we don't develop this capacity to sit with complexity, then, then we're going to struggle to kind of move forward in the most effective ways. But if we can develop that skill, what I think can be done through a focus on mindset. So we're going to set ourselves up for greater success.
Aaron: I love it. I'm writing it down. So the mental maturity enhances our capacity to sit with and navigate complexity. That’s a bullseye. So I'm keeping that one. That's a great, yeah, thanks for that. That's super helpful. And I would agree with you and just echoing back of I'm finding more and more and more and more and more that the world isn't, it, isn't about to become less complex, less chaotic, less busy, less hurried, less pick one, you know, less, it's not going to become more certain, you know, more stable.
So I appreciate what you're saying is moving as humans to become more dynamic for the environment we find ourselves in. All right. Is that the, that get you the link, the tie in that you were looking for there at the end?
Ryan Gottfredson: Yup. I think so. I think that buttons it all up.
Aaron: Cool. So buttons applied now, where do we find your work and how do people take advantage of your cool test here?
Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah, my website's the best place to go. ryangottfredson.com. The mindset assessment is there for free it's 20 questions takes five or seven minutes. And then as you alluded to a pretty comprehensive and individualized report, then also on my website, you can find my book. Um, and I have a bunch of giveaways associated with the book there. It'll direct you to go to your favorite retailer to get them. Um, but the book is taken off. So we're, we're, we've hit bestseller status on Amazon. It's looking like we'll probably hit the wall street journal bestseller list this Friday. So really excited about that.
And I think people are really resonating with the book because it is doing a little bit, what we've done here today is it's allowing us to introspect and maybe a level that we've never been able to do that before. And, and as we do that, it empowers us to, to make changes or adjustments to our lives, to better ourselves and become more of our ideal selves.
*We’ve done our best for this transcription to accurately reflect the conversation. Errors are possible. Thank you for your patience and grace if you find errors that our team missed.
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