One of the most powerful words in the English language is ‘possibility’. Just thinking of this word itself can give rise to hope and create options out of literally nothing. Considering that there is never a situation in life when everything is lost and nothing is possible, exploring possibilities can give rise to a powerful array of options at any point in time.
How you react to an adverse situation depends a lot on whether you see the possibility of anything positive emerging from that situation or not. In turn, a lot depends on your mindset and how you view events and explore possibilities even when your back is seemingly against a wall.
Having a mindset of possibility can be a powerful enabler for your success. Remember the impact of what happens to you is more often than not determined by how you respond to that event. For instance, if you are not doing well at work, you could look at it as a writing on the wall and go into a shell believing that things will go downhill for you from there on. Or, you could look at that as an opportunity to explore other roles that you find more interesting and challenging within your organisation or even outside it.
So how does a mindset of possibility work for you?
a) Some of the planet’s biggest businesses were born out of their promoters exploring possibilities
On April 1, 2017 Jeff Bezos became the second richest person on the planet. But, he was not always that rich and successful.
Before he set up Amazon, Jeff noticed that even the largest superstores could stock only a fraction of available books whereas a 'virtual' bookstore could offer millions of titles. Amazon was born when he set out to explore the possibility of creating the world’s largest virtual bookstore. This idea became a reality in July 1995 when with an option of more than one million titles Amazon.com opened its virtual doors and called itself “Earth’s Biggest Book Store”.
b) When you explore possibilities you create options
You can either have a mindset of limitations or possibilities. The mindset of possibility is infinitely better. Having a mindset of limitations is like driving uphill with your foot pressing down on the brakes and the handbrake engaged. Your vehicle is unlikely to perform well no matter how powerful it is because the brakes are hampering its performance and adding to the existing load of climbing uphill.
c) You reduce stress with a mindset of possibility
Stress is inevitable in corporate life given the pressures of competition, deadlines, frequent travel and targets. Yet when you focus on possibilities your mind is occupied with positive thoughts that can keep negative thoughts at bay. The fact is that the human mind seldom remains empty and the kind of thoughts you fill it with can determine how much success you are capable of achieving.
By shifting your focus to things that matter to you and contribute to your success you harness the power of positivity and therefore reduce your stress levels.
If you want to test the power of this mindset- try and do the opposite, i.e. sit down by yourself in a quiet place and just spend five minutes thinking of all that could go wrong in your life and all that you are worried about. At the end of the five minutes, you will find yourself in a mental state that you would not like to be in.
Interestingly, this is something that is already happening to you if you are not consciously monitoring your thoughts.
d) You harness the power of creativity
Creativity rests on exploring possibilities. If you continue to do what you have always been doing, it is unlikely you will be exercising any creativity. When you do things differently or explore doing something you have never done before, you could find yourself getting creative.
In the business world, the ability to find creative solutions to your problems could set you apart and give you an identity like no other.
e) A mindset of possibility can empower you to achieve quantum results
When you create a mindset of possibility you can empower yourself considerably. Thinking of problems can feed into your limitations and make you achieve far less than what you could achieve otherwise. Besides, thinking of obstacles and problems will only weaken your resolve to accomplish anything meaningful.
So, how do you create a mindset of possibility?
1. Do something that you haven’t done before
Possibility rests on believing that you can do something that you have not done before or achieved something that you felt was out of your reach all along. When you do something very different from what you have done before, your mind grapples with the fact that you are capable of doing something that you did not believe you could do.
When you try to do things that you think is not possible for you, you not only demolish an incorrect notion of limitations to your capability but also unleash the power of positivity and accomplishment.
2. Question your beliefs
Each one of us has some beliefs that shape our interactions with others and tailor our approach to work and life. Our experiences, perceptions and the environment that we live in usually shape our beliefs. However, it is not necessary that all our beliefs are correct. In fact, more often than not, many of our beliefs are erroneous but we still continue with them because we never question them.
Many a time it is our beliefs that hold us back. Some people believe that they are not capable of doing something on their own and that they necessarily need a job even when their deepest desire is to be an entrepreneur. Some others believe that they are not destined for success and that no matter what they do success will elude them. And, sure enough, it does. But that is not because of their destiny but because of the fact that they put in half-hearted efforts into their ventures believing that they would not succeed anyway.
Question your core beliefs and see if your beliefs are working for you or against you. You may be surprised with how many beliefs are working against you.
3. Commit to something you always wanted to do but never got around to doing
In our daily lives, there are so many things that get brushed under the carpet. You may want to be fitter than you are or you may have planned to acquire some skills relevant to your work or anything else that you consider important but never got around to doing.
Pick any one of this task and get going with it. If it is a skill or certification that you were planning for a long time, locate the relevant institute and enrol for whatever it is that you are interested in. Get started and you will open up a whole new set of possibilities for yourself. Not only this, you will also boost your own confidence and strengthen your will power.
4. For a change shift your thoughts from what you don’t want to what you have always wanted
Thoughts can be powerful agents of transformation! What you think is what you eventually become. It is a well-known fact that thoughts can energise you, excite you, motivate you or plunge you into the depths of despair and immobilise you.
The choice is yours. You can decide the thoughts that you want to entertain in your mind. However, over a period of time, your thoughts can influence your pattern of thinking and eventually lead to a mindset. When that happens it just becomes a little more difficult to change your thoughts.
One thing helps for sure and that is to constantly think of possibilities and positive thoughts. Even if you have to use your imagination, it would still help. When I am working on my laptop I often listen to the sound of ocean waves or rain via headphones connected to my laptop.
What it does is to reduce negative thoughts that can still permeate the mind even when you are at work. Sounds linked to nature are known to be calming and therefore will improve your creativity without hampering your work in any way. The same goes for classical music played softly. As long as there is no vocal content you will benefit from it.
When you shift your focus from what you have to what you want, you tend to become more positive as what you want is usually something that will make you feel good.
5. Take your toughest problem on hand and list five good things that can come out of it
The issue with dealing with tough problems is that you simply don’t see any good coming out of it. Moreover, your imagination is quick to come up with all that can go wrong in your life because of your problem. Think how irrational that is!
Let’s say you have worked hard for a coveted promotion but someone else has got it and now you are disillusioned. In this situation, if you focus on the negatives and there could be dozens of them, you will only make the situation worse. Instead, if you can shift your thoughts to what can come out of a tough situation and list just five outcomes that you think could be positive, you would have changed your entire perception of the problem. With that, your response to your problem will also change.
Open yourself to possibilities and it could transform your career and life!
The mind is like a parachute, it works best when it is open.
About the Author: Srinivasan is an independent consultant working in the area of strategy and technology interventions in the public sector domain. He has worked in companies like IBM and TCS and has over 30 years of experience spanning 24 countries.