The Importance of Mindsets

Have you ever wondered why some people always respond in the same way in certain situations? In the workplace, when faced with change, one response often heard is ‘well we have already tried this, and it didn’t work’.

Another is ‘yes that’s a good idea but…

What is a Mindset?

These responses are signs of a mindset. The mindset in this example is that of a having a negative response to the world around us. Although an overworked cliche, it’s the way of seeing the world as a glass half empty rather than a glass half full.

Mind sets are ways in which we habitually respond to our world and represent our prevailing attitudes. They develop from the way we perceive and how we interpret those perceptions.   As they have become habits we often use them without thinking. They can become automatic.

A Positive v. Negative Mindset

Some mind sets, such as the one I have mentioned above can have negative consequences both for ourselves and others around us. If we are continually responding with a ‘yes, but’, then people will stop involving us in new projects. We will be always putting up barriers.

This is not to say that we should enthusiastically embrace all change and stay positive all the time. This would be unrealistic and does not prepare us for unforeseen consequences.  An element of skepticism is healthy for society provided it doesn’t shut down discussion and we are prepared to listen to all sides. We need people to challenge ideas in a constructive way in terms of what actions are needed. However, that challenge is best made in a way that doesn’t shut down the possibility for change and is accepting of the others view.

So, instead of using ‘yes but’ when faced with discussion of change why not try ‘yes and’. Then  introduce any further thoughts you may have that you think have been overlooked. This confirms that you are open to new ideas and at the same time are aware that there may be issues that have not yet been aired.

How to change our mindsets

As we often don’t know or are not aware of our mindsets, it is a helpful exercise to unearth them, so we can become more conscious about them.

One way to review them is to ask for feedback from others on how we habitually respond. If patterns emerge that are negative, then we should start to become aware of when we use them and start to re-frame our responses.

As mind sets are habits that have built up over time it will take time to change them. You will need to be reminding yourself constantly to remain alert to the language and attitudes that you want to change and work on these a step at a time.


Barbara is an executive coach, leadership and creativity facilitator. She has coached women and men in a variety of corporate settings, and has developCreativity Cycling booked a unique approach to using creative techniques in her coaching and workshops to enable change at a group or individual level. She has recently  published a book on creativity for leaders with Dr. Tracy Stanley, entitled Creativity Cycling 

Why image based creative tools are better than words

Recently I have facilitated  three creative workshops, 2 which were focused on creative problem solving and one which was a process of personal development. The common denominator in each was not just that they were creative but that I used drawing, images and collage as tools in the process. The results underline the value in using image based work in problem solving and change. Continue reading “Why image based creative tools are better than words”

7 reasons to develop your creativity

It may be helpful firstly to define being creative.

One definition from the Collins English dictionary offers ‘ having the ability to create, characterized by originality of thought; having or showing imagination, characterized by sophisticated bending of the rules or conventions ‘

marseille 'mirror'

Everyone has the capacity to be creative, although not all in the same way.  I have written before about ways in which you develop your creativity and you can see these here . Everyone expresses creativity in their own way and so it is important to look for ways in which you can or do display your creativity.

What I want to do here is to offer some reasons why you would want to do this.

Re-ignite your passion. There are many ways in which you can develop creativity and by picking one of these and pursuing it you can enter into a new universe and find a new passion. For example I have never written a book and am now following a course on creative writing which is leading to me writing every day and starting to develop a short story or two!

Be creative in problem solving and you will find that your skill at solving problems develops immensely. Creative problem solving enables and encourages you to see the big picture and not to go down the same road each time you encounter a problem.

Open yourself up to new opportunities by developing your creativity. You will start to see the world from different perspectives which will open you up to all sorts of different opportunities

Do things differently.You will start to live your life differently, and enjoying doing things differently will impact on your whole life and create change.

Become more productive and effective at work as you challenge the old order in which you did things and search out new and better ways of doing them.

Creativity leads to innovation and this can open up many possibilities for you if your follow this course.

Finally being more creative will be less boring and you will have fun!

I am sure there are more reasons,  what would you add to this list?

Barbara is an executive coach, change and creativity facilitator. She offers facilitated workshops in creative problem solving. She has recently co-authored a book on creative problem solving with Tracy Stanley, called Creativity Cycling.

5 ways to more effective brainstorming

Business colleagues brainstorming multicolored labels stuck on whiteboard in meeting

Sitting here staring at my keyboard and wondering what to write in this weeks blog led me to a favourite topic of mine : brainstorming.

Now we all know how to brainstorm don’t we? Well actually we don’t.

There is far more to the topic than most of us acknowledge. For example one of the best reference books I have come across on brainstorming, Techniques of Structured Problem Solving by Van Grundy, has a 120 page section on generating ideas, of which many fall into the brainstorming kind.

Brainstorming is used in most organisations and teams at some stage and for most of the time is is completely ineffective. So why is this?

Let me list some of the issues that are blocks to effective brainstorming.

1. Brainstorming usually takes place in a boardroom or seated around a table. 

Well actually this is the worst space in which to brainstorm. It  tends to lead to a complacency of thought and only logical rational ideas being generated.

Throw out the table, stand not sit, or even better walk outside, and see how ideas flow better!

2.  Brainstorming is done by getting people to shout out loud their ideas.

This can of course work, however it favours the extrovert and leaves the introvert out of the picture.

Try a period of silent brainstorming, or brainwriting as it is often called. In this everyone has a set of post-its or cards and writes one idea on each. They then get pinned up and sorted later.

3.  Brainstorming is done in 10 minutes or less.

This is not enough time to allow the unconscious to get to work.

Try for  periods of around 30 minutes or have intervals of different activities intertwined with brainstorming and change the format of the brainstorming.

4. Brainstorming is about a ‘free for all’.

Well yes and no. Ideas need to be allowed to be expressed freely, however a set of rules is required for the climate to be conducive to effective brainstorming:

  • Criticism is ruled out
  • Freewheeling is welcomed
  • Quantity of ideas is sought, the more the better
  • Combining ideas and building on others is good also.

5.  Brainstorming is about coming up with words to represent ideas.

However it can be stimulated by images, metaphor, sculpture, etc. The idea here is that a whole variety of stimuli can be used to seek out further ideas around the topic.

Here I have tried to offer some ways of improving brainstorming and have also introduced some different formats to aid brainstorming.

What are your favourite approaches to generating ideas through brainstorming?

Barbara is an executive coach, change and creativity facilitator and is launching RenewYou Personal Development workshops for women in France. These programmes are enabling and confidence boosting. For more information contact barbara here