So what are we talking about here, Disability Mindset a Help & a Hindrance Upon Balance.  This in a nutshell is about me helping you to realise that people with disabilities develop a particular story that we use to help us to manage our disability or impairment if you prefer.  However, I want you to realise that adopting a particular mindset is fine if we want to continue doing whatever it is we have always done, but no good if we want to make significant changes in our lives.

The term mindset suggests something that is set in concrete.  But this is not true.  A particular belief, which is the bedrock of what I am presenting as your mindset is something that actually evolves.  It takes on an identity of its own over a long period of time that can really help us to adapt to life changes and circumstances and can feel like a true, best friend.

Let me explain how this evolution takes place.

As I was growing up my Father used to say “Chris you have to always be better and try harder than everyone else”.  This would often follow an issue I had perhaps around School work and later on when asking him about why someone at work decided to eat my lunch from my ruck sack (this is a strange story ask me about it if you like).  Now many will read this and think that it just a Parent wanting his son to do well and an indirect motivational kick up the ass.  And that is how I took it for many years.  In fact, it is something that has held sway throughout most of my adult life.  I always understood this to also mean that I had to prove myself several times over because of my visual impairment.  I had to be seen to show determination to succeed and what I have now come to understand as resilieance and emotional intelligence.  It must have been really good advice because I usually fulfilled my ambitions in life.  So adopting a must be the best I can be mindset seemed to work well for me.  For example, it got me into computer aided engineering, it helped me to adapt to a massive and unwanted career change in to business administration and enabled me to achieve a 2.i in Politics with Hons and many other qualifications.  What it also did was allow me to develop an innovative mind to believe that I could do things differently so that they were better than before or was this just wanting to be better than those around me?  It has also helped me to have a self-belief in myself and the things I want to do.  But this also put me on a collision path with many people with disabilities who did not share this world view.

However, my must be the best I can be mindset has also had a negative side.  Perhaps my Father did not intend it to become so deep rooted, but just wanted me to do well in my Exams.  In my desire to prove myself capable of doing the things I wanted to do, I conversely always had to do things my way and do them from start to finish myself.  This did not apply to all things, only things that I thought other people judged me against my visual impairment.  So there was a pattern to what I had to do and what I did not have any issue conceding others could do better than me.  But the dominant mindset was always present.  This mindset seemed to serve me well with measurable achievements, but much less so in knowing how and when to accept help.  To be honest, I hate asking for help to the extent that I will wander around a large shopping centre until I literally stumble across the shop I wanted.  This stubbornness means things take longer to find than if I just ask someone.  But when I have chucked in the towel and asked, I will often get “its over there”.  Where is over there?  When I was growing up I would turn down lifts just so I could prove my independence by walking in all weathers and taking much longer to get there.  This mindset means that I make mistakes because I want to prove myself and ultimately, I am uncomfortable accepting help as it feels like failure to me.  This has also led me to not suffer fools gladly.  This is surely a positive thing.  This mindset is also pretty useless at helping you to deal with those things that are much more difficult to measure; such as success.

Some humour:

It really did happen to me.  I had finished lunch with my wife, Fiona at Dunelm in Torquay.  I decided to return to the car and headed for what I hoped was the Exit.  In fact it was the Entrance, which I realised after it was too late. I was now trapped as I could not get out through the automatic doors or back through the secondary gates.  I looked around and thought I cannot see anyone (nothing new there).  I weighed up the options and decided it was time to get out of this predicament.  I could either attempt climb over the gates and risk a groin injury or crawl underneath; the later appeared to be the best option.  A few moments later I am crawling on all fours under the gate at the same time an elderly couple enter the store.  The gate starts to swing open as I am underneath it.  Imagine the sight.  A fully grown man in his 50s crawling into the shop with the gate now fully open along the entire length of my back.  But don’t worry I escaped!

But it would have been much easier to ask for help, but not as funny.

So why does Disability Mindset a Help & a Hindrance Upon Balance matter if  it has served me so well?

Earlier I asserted that a particular mindset may be appropriate for a particular part of life’s journey or to overcome a challenge.  But once it starts to become clear that it needs adapting or even ditching, we have to first understand what we want and why it no longer fits.  In our throw away society it is all to easy to discard an old pair of shoes that are worn out, but we hang on to them because they were comfy.  But the terrain we now walk upon requires a different pair of shoes and we need to change them for something more suitable.

In my case, I had to go from a mindset that suited being employed and measuring success by salary, holidays and material gain to an entrepreneurial mindset.  It is clear to me that facets of what has worked well need to be retained and even built upon.   The thing that has had to change, is getting help from others with the skills I need, but have the time to learn or do myself.  This is easily explained.  I don’t build my The Life Coach Station’s website myself or the Mail Chimp templates I use for Newsletters, I had this done for me.  But I write the content myself.  I am also surrounding myself with more like-minded people irrespective as to whether they have disabilities and being mentored by Andy Harrington’s ACE Coaches, Jessen.  Not only is he helping me to get my message across through engaging public speaking, but also pushing me to convert my life’s expertise into a UBS (ask me about this). I am really starting to listen much more to the ideas of others and accept that my way is not necessarily the only way to go.  So to break free requires an adaptation or complete change of mindset.  Being a business owner is noting like being an employee.  But if you don’t get this right, you swap a lack of control over your destiny from an employer to your business calling all the shots.  You need to be calling the shots and running your business as being congruent with your life’s goals.  Good businesses are initially built upon a bedrock of pure self-belief, but they only grow when you collaborate with others who share a mutual interest.

So, let me ask you.  What is your mindset good at and not so good at?  Answers on a post card please (a joke, you don’t need  to do that) just comment below instead.

Chris Catt

Speaking Out Seeing Further

Chris Catt

The Enabled Entrepreneur

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