Most of the leaders I work with are either in the midst of a major job transition from one role to another with more scope and responsibility, or are trying to make a change of some sort.

A change in their day-to-day behaviors, their interpersonal relationships, how they are perceived by others, their personal presence, and their personal confidence and credibility are all areas of focus.  They look for tips and techniques and steps to take to apply to help them make the changes they seek to make and eventually ensure their success.

While tips, techniques, and a list of steps are certainly helpful when trying to make a change in behavior, in my experience helping people make changes throughout the years, they alone will not create lasting success.

Then what does?

Before applying steps and tips, you need to make a mental “mindshift”.  By “mindshift”, I mean that how you look at whatever you are changing or the transition you are making must internally shift completely—from a clear “before” to an “after” state.  Your mindset must literally shift internally in order for the outer behavioral changes to be successful.

What do I mean by “mindshift”?

Ever try to lose weight—and also keep it off?

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health tracked 14 contestants from the popular TV show “The Biggest Loser”—an astonishing 13 of them had gained back all the weight they had lost or more six years after their show’s season had ended!  They had the tools and steps needed, but hadn’t made the fundamental mindset shift to enable lasting change.

While we have a host of diet plans available at our fingertips with menus and recipes and tips to follow—and can follow them dutifully—once we have attained our goal we go back to our old patterns and mindsets about eating.  We are “finished” with the diet, have achieved our goal, and then eat as we did before we started.  Our internal mindset about how we eat has not fundamentally shifted—we have just temporarily changed our behavior to achieve a goal.  Thus—the change doesn’t really happen internally—our mindset doesn’t shift to a new state—and we gain the weight back.

A mindshift is a deeper, internal change in how you fundamentally see something.  To really make a lasting change in weight management, you have to see the process of eating completely differently than you did before.  Your mindshift is from one of “I am on a diet until I lose weight” to “I have to adopt new eating habits and they are permanent”.  That internal mindshift is that your entire relationship with food must change in order to manage your weight, as will your day-to-day choices from now on.  The mindshift from temporary food choices to lose weight to eating a certain way as a permanent way of life is a significant internal shift in thinking that will be the key to a successful and lasting change in weight management.

The same premise holds true in other transitions you make.  If you want to transition to being a leader, you must shift your internal thinking about your own identity and self-worth.  You must go from seeing yourself as a high-achieving individual contributor to seeing yourself as one who finds, develops, and empowers high-achieving contributors to perform as a team.  Your mindset completely shifts from one state to another in order to successfully make the transition.

Think about a change you are making or a transition you are going through now.

What internal mindshifts do you need to make in order to be successful?

What was your thinking and mindset up until now?

What must it shift to in the future?

What are the from and to states?

Once you pinpoint the fundamental mindshifts you need to make in order to make a successful change and identify internal “from” and “to” states, you can then focus on the actual steps and actions you can take to be successful.