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Michael Gardon

  • Writer's pictureMichael Gardon

The Changer's Mindset - The Break Issue 9

Updated: Mar 19

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The Changer’s Mindset Change is one of those things, where the narrative we have in our head is more powerful than the reality.

That’s because how we perceive our ability to change is just that - a perception. It is not a hard fact, or a reality because change is not present and knowable. It is in the future and the future in inherently un-knowable.

So people who have broken their careers, went on to new adventures in unrelated industries and changed the course of their lives have all had to confront the stories in their heads today, and change that story for tomorrow so that the story better serves their mission of change.

Here’s how our story gets created and what’s needed to change our own story.

The Stories In Our Heads Justin Welsh, solopreneur and prolific Twitter writer argues that there are 7 steps to create a compelling backstory as an entrepreneur - one that your audience will resonate with. I’m secretly jealous of Justin’s writing because he says everything I’m thinking about.

Well, for so much of our limits are self imposed by our own story. When I’ve struggled to change, I’ve always examined my own thoughts first.

Here I’ve adapted Justin’s 7 steps to for us to identify the backstory we are telling ourselves, pick apart the narratives that aren’t serving us, and change them so we can produce the courage we need to make an impactful change.

Step 1: Identify the Change You Want to Make You’re restless and unhappy. You want to make a change. What is it and why? Write it down. It’s important to label what you want.

Example from my story: I need to work for myself because I want to build a balanced life on my terms not anyone else’s.

Step 2: Identify the Obstacle We all have struggles, but what is the one key obstacle you think is holding you back? Most obstacles are invented. You might think you’re not old enough, you need more experience, no one will take you seriously, or the change you want to make is too risky or irresponsible.

Example from my story: I never developed a clear line of skills early in my career (like “I’m an accountant” or “I’m a power excel user” or “I’m in real estate development”). So, I had a really hard time identifying my value and thinking about my ability to build a business of my own.

Step 3: The Internal Struggles As Justin writes: Internal struggles are how we feel inside because of the obstacle in step 2. Internal pain is captured with words like fearful, anxious, or insecure. Write them down, then ask, “are these actually true?”

Example from my story: I had no confidence because I felt like I had no path. I was constantly worried that I would never be successful at anything. I was anxious about where I directed my attention because there were no constraints.

Step 4: The External Struggles External struggles are visible. They may be words spoken by others or consequences of the path you are on. Ask: “Do these matter? Do these determine who I am? Or can I use these to fuel my change?”

Example from my story: When I was a trader, I literally watched people make piles of money in their 20’s while I struggled. I developed an irregular heart beat from stress. I had a boss openly criticize me in a leadership meeting (that I wasn’t at) because I refused to say how much “credit” my team should get for a project - to me that’s infuriating.

Step 5: The Change Event The change event is the one critical moment where you realize that you can change (or have to change). What can that be? Think about it ahead of time. Maybe it’s going to a meet up or taking a class, or talking to someone new online.

Example from my story: I had a performance review where my boss told me I had needed to put up with the infuriating bureaucracy we were experiencing because “we are paying you a lot of money.” In that instance, I realized I was only there because I got a nice paycheck, but was sacrificing my happiness. That was unacceptable to me, and I started plotting how to control my work-life.

Step 6: The Spark The spark is the magic moment you realize the change you want is actually doable. This is a huge moment because the obstacle had been limiting your belief in your ability to make a change until now.

Example from my story: I landed one big freelance client where I could build a team to execute for them, and that same team could build out operations for my website businesses that I had been secretly sitting on. I knew in that moment, my transition out of the corporate world was secure and I had a good shot at building up the content and websites side of my business, and hopefully not needing to rely on the client long term.

Step 7: The Guide The guide is one person who lifts you up to help you see your full potential and bring it into the light. This is very often a mentor and why we talk about mentorship as so important. Who is the person who can help you achieve the change you want?

Example from my story: former boss at my freelance client (and now business partner) said I was the only one he knew who could replace him. I also had a coach, Shawna, who helped me deconstruct a lot of limiting beliefs by asking if they were actually true or not.

Step 8: The Result The result is the continuation of your transformation story from where you were to where you want to go, and even bigger success. You’ve begun to identify limiters in your own experience and dealt with them systematically through the steps so far, so where are you going?

Example from my story: Once I was out on my own, I felt like I could see every obstacle and could prepare to overcome them. I built the web side of my business big enough to absorb my full team, parted ways with my client and continue to focus on building value for this community.

I broke my career. I am free of the corporate world. I am a career changer. I’m an entrepreneur.

What’s happening on the pod? Speaking of change stories, I had Dave Kline on the pod last week. Dave worked for the largest hedge fund in the world, then left to build an online course business teaching management principles to corporate leaders.

Check out this line from about 3 minutes into our convo: My first thought was I wanted to own my own business. And then it's funny to say with that only being true for the last 18 months and not being true for the 20 years prior. But literally when I left, it was 1999. It was just before boom. And my thinking was, I'll go. I was an engineer, but I wasn't the engineer. It was electrical engineering. I wasn't the engineer like on the circuit board, like in our project groups, I was the one who presented. So I'm like, great, I'll go, I'll go consulting. I'll see a bunch of businesses. I'll pick up some skills for two or three years, and then I'll be ready to have my own business that then turned into another gig and another project. And then another company promotions and golden handcuffs get tighter. And then all of a sudden I looked up at 20 years and was like, I, that company, I was gonna start when I was 22, still hasn't been started.

Dave postponed his entrepreneurial calling for 20 years because of the story in his head. It’s all worked out just fine, Dave!

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