This is a Mindset related article. Developing a healthy mindset is an essential skill for the Smart Business Cat.
Here’s a fact : As they age, human beings tend to grow less and less, and not just physically mind you, it also concerns your mind.
The Smart Business cat though, doesn’t want to stop growing. You can always keep growing physically by regular exercise it seems, but what about the mind then ? Let’s find out !
From solid identity..
Through my own experience and observing others, I noticed that as you age; your own identity becomes firmer, stronger. You actually have a more and more precise way to define what you are, and what you are not, over time. This stems from your abilities, jobs, training, achievements, etc. in a nutshell, we tend to form your own identity based on the sum of your own experiences.
So as he advances through life, an average cat reinforces his identity by repeating the same kind of experience over and over, shaping his identity into a rock-solid block of beliefs about himself.
For instance, let’s say a cat writes stuff every day for many years, then his identity as a writer will grow stronger and stronger, and as a result he may very well identifies himself as a Writer Cat after a while. And the more he writes, the more his belief that he is a Writing cat solidifies itself.
It’s not bad per se, and seems like a pretty legit way to build an identity, so what exactly is wrong with this solid identity we build for ourselves ?
In my opinion, this vision is limiting and can actually prevent one’s growth : If you define precisely what you are and what you are not, what you can and what you can’t do, you shut yourself the doors to many opportunities for growth.
Cats with such a mindset will come up with excuses like “It’s not like me”, “I’ll never be able to do that”, “It’s impossible” even though they would absolutely love to do it. For instance, let’s say the Writer Cat always dreamed to be an Adventurer Cat, but it’s likely, after building up his identity of a Writer Cat that stays home writing stuff, come up with something like “Nah, I can’t be an adventurer, it’s not like me, i’m just a writer after all”.
Hence the notion of rigid self concept or identity, just like a stone, your idendity won’t grow or evolve, might even erode over time or shatter under pressure.
..to a Fluid identity
So how exactly do we solve this existential issue ? Enter the fluid identity*, a self concept that is not limited to the sum of your experiences. With this concept, you go beyond “just be yourself”, and instead transform it into “be what you want to be”.
So with the fluid identity, you add into the identity equation your dreams, your vision, the change you want in yourself or in the world, and consider that even the most intangible thoughts are part of yourself rather than sticking to the cold hard facts.
Getting back to our Writing Cat, he’s a writer, but always dreamed to be an adventurer, then he should integrate it into his identity, and may be one day, if he give himself the means to achieve this dream, he might actually become an adventurer.
The proper mindset to have, with a fluid identity, is not to consider your goals or dreams are impossible to reach, but also acknowledge the option that you might evolve into something different than what you are right now, rather than locking you up into a static state.
Looking back, i’m actually really different on certain aspect than I was only 3 months, 1 year and even more 3 years ago. Because i learned to constantly adjust and evolve (though i realized that only very recently).
Of course, changing that mindset doesn’t happen overnight on a whim, so here’s some leads on how to “fluidify” yourself.
Take your dreams seriously
The average cat consider dream as some kind of impossible objective and end up concealing them or joke about them, like it’d never happen. But after seeing people becoming adventurers, astronauts, serial entrepreneurs, bestseller writer, anything just because they took their dream seriously, I believe you too can become anything. This is a notion I learned from Tim Feriss, in his book, the 4 hour workweek.
Experience and Untether
Appropriating Ev Bogue’s key words, you have to learn to acknowledge opportunity and say YES to any tool that helps you evolve, ans say NO to any shackle that restrain your growth. Keep experimenting and see the results for yourself.
For the story, this smart cat began as an average journalist, then became photographer with moderate success, to finally become a professional writer successfully getting paid to write. When he saw that what he was doing didn’t work for him, he learned to let go of it, and focus on what made him grow and evolve.
Keep an open mind
You can learn and grow from anything, provided you keep an open mind, try to go beyond your current knowledge and experience and seek more of them. You’re never done with anything, there is always a way to learn more or grow in any area. Always remember that nothing is true for sure, and everything is possible. Ultimately you have to always adapt your judgement based on the new elements you learn about and experience you have.
Work. Work. Work.
I used to consider I was not a hard worker, but this is just because I hadn’t the opportunity to work on anything I really cared about. When you truly are passionate about something, you must give yourself the means to accomplish it, and it comes through hard work. It’s important to acknowledge that if you want to change, you have to put some efforts into it. And this also means to be persistent, and not get scared by uncertainty, set backs or failure.
Embrace the risks
A constant exposure to risk and getting out of your comfort zone, is a key factor to fluidify your identity. Taking risks forces you to lean into uncertainty, causing, in turn, your identity to become uncertain as a result. Risks allow you to profit from successes and learn from failures, even though they scare us, they offer infinite potential to grow.
Of course there’s probably more, but that’s the 5 key points I identified for now based on my own experience.
This way your identity becomes fluid, and you allow itself to grow, evolve and take any shape, as you see fit. If a solid identity is like a stone, a fluid identity is like a water current, flowing through any environment, adapting its course, transforming pressure into strength.
Little exercise before you go, take a cat like Richard Branson and try to define his identity. Just considering him as an entrepreneur or business man would be quite limited for someone like him. This guy never stop evolving, and continuously keep being better at everything he does.
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*I first heard of this concept a while ago, on Disrupting the Rabblement, a blog about building up courage. In his article Niall kind of ties the question of self-concept with fear, and self-doubt, but as you can see I have a slightly different approach, it’s more about how we build our mindset and the way we think about ourselves.