We have the power to bring about the mental states we want to achieve, and doing so is becoming an essential skill.
Dictionary.com defines mindset as “an attitude, disposition or mood; an intention or inclination”. But our mindset is so much more than that, and we can master it to experience the most satisfying results in our lives.
Our mindset, at any one moment, is carefully constructed through an intrinsic cognitive filtering program we all have in our neurobiological system. George Miller identified, through his research in 1940, that we receive phenomenally large numbers of bits of information (b.o.i.) each second through our senses. Many other researchers since then have suggested this phenomenal amount equals 2 million b.o.i. each second. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in his seminal book Flow, published in 1990, has built on Miller’s work and explains how through a largely unconscious process, we filter out the b.o.i. we do not require to make meaning of our experiences. Other studies since this time state we receive up to 20 million b.o.i. each second. Humans have a sensational and sophisticated neurobiological system, I’m sure you’d agree.
John Grinder and Richard Bandler, co-founders of the neuro linguistic programming methodology, have continuously expanded on Miller’s and Csikszentmihalyi’s work over the last few decades and state we can consciously design our mindset to achieve more favourable outcomes.
This means as we consider the experiences we are having, we can identify our thought pathways that lead us to a particular outcome or result. When we do this, we are able to structure a different thought pathway consciously if we wish to achieve a different outcome or result! When we change our thoughts, we change our experiences, and this changes our lives. When we change our lives, our worlds change because of those choices!
So, what does mindset have to do with your nursing career anyway?
• Firstly, the world we live and work in continues to change constantly, and to exist in this ever-changing world, we must adjust our mindsets to be able to adapt to forthcoming changes and bring all we know and all we can do to those changes.
• Secondly, the 21st century has evolved from the industrial age to the age of information, technology and rapid communication. This means, like no other time in history, we must learn to consciously filter in or out the b.o.i. we are presented with through our senses. To be able to do that, we must become more mindful of what we aim to achieve, and to shape and use our thoughts to lead us to those realities.
• Thirdly, along with this world’s evolution, nursing has changed; it has matured into a 21st century profession. A nurse’s mindset must be ever-prepared to be accountable, autonomous and meet the mandate to provide high-quality, evidence-based best practice. Nurses must know what we are doing, do it competently and account for actions at all times in the ever-changing professional environment. We must continuously update and increase our knowledge, skills and attitudes through academic and workforce training to match the needs of our population.
• Finally, we are influenced and shaped by other changes occurring around us. The business aspect of healthcare is similarly undergoing enormous evolution and change, with a mandate to rationalise how fiscal resources are disseminated equitably and used to produce specific outcomes. As we create or extend services, existing services we are aware of and function in can shrink. We must all therefore take on some responsibility for using our government funding much more widely and wisely. Our mindsets must allow us to adapt effectively to these fiscal changes as well as the professional changes.
Mindset affects individual performance. Providing nursing care is more challenging than ever. The daily obstacles nurses face may consume our energy unnecessarily, and our energy is ultimately governed by our mindsets. It is, therefore, important for our own health, and the health of others, to develop the most resourceful mindset we can to complete our work each day as satisfactorily as possible.
To achieve optimal mindsets at work each day we must use our autonomy as professionals to make decisions, and avoid the influence of people with heightened reactive and emotional states. If you are a manager or a nurse leader, do you lead your followers carefully to unchartered models of practice, unique to the services for which you work or do you lead your followers from your own state of despair and disdain? Can you see the different outcomes that both these pathways produce?
The right mindset for challenging workplace circumstances can result in opportunities for unexpected, unprecedented and innovative outcomes. How? The answer is simple. We need to imagine and envision what could be, then act on this in the company of ‘can do’ people we work with.
To embrace and capitalise on such opportunities, we must recognise when thought pathways we are structuring lead us to outcomes that are either useful or not useful. Grinder and Bandler suggest changing any part of our internalised communication pattern will deliver us a completely different outcome in life.
Moira Maraun – The Mindset Nurse – is an RN, CMHN, master practitioner and certified trainer NLP.Do you have an idea for a story?
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