Whether you’re a speaker, a thought leader, an executive or a consultant, when it comes to being exceptional, your leadership mindset matters. It’s part of what makes you wildly unique.
Being exceptional is about more than just doing great work. It’s about more than just being a great thinker, or building a great business. It’s also about having the mindset of exceptionality. In fact, it’s only when you have a mindset of exceptionality that you can achieve exceptionality in the other parts of your practice.
So what is the mindset (or leadership mindset) of exceptionality, and how do you develop it? And ultimately, how can this demonstrate your uniqueness and elevate your practice?
The Mindset of Exceptionality
Mindset is one of the first issues we can face when elevating our positioning. Am I good enough, smart enough and the imposter can take hold? To get into the exceptionality mindset, the focus shifts into two key areas to measure:
1. What is it that makes you unique?
2. How much do you obsess about continuous improvement?
These two questions are often enough to open them up and give me insight into their mindset and how to develop it. For example, their uniqueness might be that they have overcome incredible hurdles to achieve their unique expertise, so resilience could be their uniqueness. Or perhaps it’s their creativity and their ability to have ideas and a vision. Or perhaps it’s their ability to gain powerful insights into data and emerging trends, or perhaps the awards they have won in their art of expertise.
Understanding this helps the audience to understand how they are positioned (or organised) in their own mind. From there the focus becomes on growth, innovation, creativity and how much they obsess about continuous improvement.
The Exceptionality Mental Lens
Your mindset is your mental lens. It dictates what information you take in, and it helps you to make sense of the world and navigate the situations that you encounter as a leader or within your business. So different leaders and experts will react differently to the same situation, and they might feel differently too. And that makes your exceptionality mindset a vital part of developing your positioning and message.
However, research shows that most leadership development programs are not always very effective–because they overlook the vital attribute of mindset. But your mental lens is unique to you. And by creating this uniqueness within your mindset you can elevate your influence.
Why an Exceptionality Mindset Matters
If you truly want your practice to become exceptional, you need to prioritise your mindset development.
Nelson Mandela said, ‘Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.’
This is an exceptional mindset. It’s easy when things are going well, to just sit back and celebrate your success. But that won’t lead you to create more exceptionality in your practice. But when you have failures, they will drive you to keep moving forward despite setbacks. In fact, when you have an exceptional leadership mindset, you see your failures as a step to eventual success.
Even more, your mindset helps to protect you from negative outside influence. I like to think of it as a padded suit or a bubble suit. When you’re in this suit, everything else just kind of bounces off of you.
Your mindset works in this same way. Dan Collins, the former Australian four-time Olympic kayaker, is a great example of mindset. He started with humble beginnings in Blacktown, NSW, but took himself all the way to the Olympic Games, four times. He shares now that this was the result of his positive – exceptional – mindset.
How to Use Your Mindset to Become Exceptional
In order to become exceptional, we need to cultivate and practice an exceptional mindset.
Develop a Learning Mindset
Your first step is to create a learning mindset. This allows you to be open to new processes, and new ways of doing things. Importantly, it also helps you to adapt to the struggle because you understand that when you’re struggling, you’re learning and growing.
You can think about it as learning to write with your non-dominant hand. It will be nearly impossible at first – but as you keep practicing, you will get better and better. It’s not necessarily the skill that matters. It’s the attitude that learning – even though it’s hard – will elevate your capabilities, and when it comes to leadership mindset, your practice.
Embrace failure and mistakes
Rather than letting your failures derail you, use them to grow. Use them to show you the way to take your practice from where you are now, to where you want it to be. And then when you get to the place where you’re having lots of success, push forward until you’re failing a little bit again. This is how you continue to improve and continue to build exceptionality.
Build on Your Momentum
As your mindset starts to change, and you begin to elevate your practice to the exceptional, keep pushing. Keep growing and developing and yes, even struggling. When you have success, it’s easy to simply sit back and celebrate your win. But to become truly exceptional, and continue to remain that way, you have to always be pushing forward.
Your Unique Mindset
Ultimately, your mindset is completely unique to you, just as your practice is. What you need to do, or create within your own thoughts and thought processes, is totally dependent on who you are. But it is also your uniqueness that will enable you to grasp that mindset. In the same way that your uniqueness amplifies your communication, your uniqueness will allow you to embrace and develop your mindset. Your mindset may even be the unique thing even that amplifies that communication as well.
When you’re looking to develop your exceptionality mindset, these are the three questions:
1. What makes you unique?
2. How much do you obsess about continuous improvement?
3. How can you raise your exceptionality mindset to elevate your positioning and influence as a leader?
I’d love to hear your thoughts…