3 Powerful Mindset Changes To Take You To The Next Level

When I was 17, I climbed a mountain and nearly died.

At 1,708 meters, Seoraksan was the 3rd highest mountain in South Korea. It was my first mountain and we were to climb it in the thick of winter.

I will never forget a point in the journey where I felt my body shutting down. It was on the 2nd day of the hike near to the summit. Due to a slow start in the morning, we had to keep our pace brisk or risk being unable to reach the safety of the rest house by sundown. Hiking in the dark was extremely dangerous, and a small misstep could have lethal consequences.

By 5pm, we stopped to rest and our guide told us to secure our headlamps. Our worst fears came true — We would not make it to the rest house by sundown. To speed up our ascent, our guide decided to take a bunch of 17 year olds up a shortcut usually taken by expert mountaineers. With crampons, headlamps, and hungry stomachs, we started our ascent.

It was exhausting. Period. The sun had set and it was bitterly cold.

Near the top of that steep ascent, I felt my body go weak. My eyes were closing and I desperately wanted to just crumple to the ground and fall asleep. My teammates were urging me to press on but their voices were faded. The lure of the soft ground felt so inviting.

In the darkness I saw a headlamp drop, tumbling down the cliff. Down, down, down it went, the light becoming smaller and smaller.

I willed my mind to wake up and snapped back to reality.

Yes, that’s me! ^^

In the final leg of the journey, it was not my body that carried me but my mind. This applied to my friend as well, who reached the rest house delirious, frostbite on her ears, giggling to herself as she spoke to imaginary snowmen.

That day, I learnt about the brute power of the mind. I’m sure we have all have at least heard of this.

However, this article hopes to explore not just raw power, but rather, power applied in a specified direction. To do that, the mind needs to first be set in a particular orientation or perspective. We call this a Mindset.

The Power of Mindsets

Mindsets are frameworks; perspectives; lenses, to which we view the world. Often, how we view the world determines our attitudes, and our attitudes determines our actions. Small actions, repeated many times over, becomes a habit. Habits determine who you become.

The most famous mindset is the Growth Mindset: Believe you can grow, and you will. Believe you’re fixed the way you are, and you will never grow.

However, there are many many other mindsets. (View my overarching thoughts on Social Entrepreneurial mindsets in this article.)

Below are 3 mindsets that I believe will unlock individual greatness:

1. Abundance

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

From young, school has taught us the concept of “survival of the fittest” — “Run fast, or you’d get trampled on”; and grades were a measure of that success.

Of course, our school system is starting to de-value grades. Yet, as young adults, have we truly started to de-value other forms of quantifiable success as well?

Society teaches us to lust for quantifiable success; to think of personal gain or at best, win-win solutions. Such a mentality makes us operate out of a scarcity mindset, where we will always think “not enough”. It makes us become very dissatisfied people.

Instead, if we fill our mind with gratitude and thanksgiving, our actions, behaviour, perspectives and purpose will start to shift. These positive changes affect our actions and aura. We start to look at situations and people not as challenges to be overcome, but rather, as unique instances to be appreciated.

This shift in Mindset gives you a different form of success — peace, joy, and emotional/mental security.

Only when stress, anxiety, competitiveness, fear of failure leaves you, will you begin to operate out of a mindset of abundance.

That brings me to my next point… It’s pretty deep, so get ready!

2. You Are Who You Believe You Are

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

It’s easy to answer the question “What are you” by answering with a profession, stage of life, or description of yourself: “I’m a doctor”/“I’m a mother”/”I am analytical”. Yet, many of us will find it difficult to answer the question of “Who are you?”

Take a minute to consider this question: “Who are you?”

The secret to answering this question is Mindset. Answering it based on your past and current Self/who you have been, is limiting. Rather, I believe it is better to decide who you would like to be. In other words, you can imagine yourself into being. You then become who you believe you are.

It seems almost basic, yet few of us go through this exercise. How can people live life not knowing who they are?

To make things worse, society tries to tell us who we are. Many times, it tries to categorise us out of functionality without considering our individual uniqueness, eg “you’re a Chinese”/ “you’re an educator”.

Tension occurs in your head when who you perceive yourself to be is different from others’ impression of you. It goes 2 ways — You may decide that the impression is right, and consciously imagine yourself into being; or, you may decide that the impression is wrong, reject it, and maintain your current perception of Self.

Either way, it takes a lot of self-awareness and constant reflection to ensure your inner and outer world remain in sync. This is the only way to protect your sense of Self.

Your sense of Self must be protected through constant reflection

Too many people don’t make effort to maintain this sync. Left unchecked, this sadly contributes to various forms of confidence and ultimately mental well-being issues. Eg. Trying hard to impress, Imposter’s Syndrome, self-defeatist mentality

Yet, the gains from maintaining that sync are enormous! You really have the power to decide who you want to be. Nonetheless, constant syncing is so tiring as the 2 worlds always become unbalanced.

As a Christian, one thing that never changes is who God says I am, and that forms the foundation of my identity, upon which I can then start to imagine myself into being.

3. Seasons

Photo by Fallon Michael on Unsplash

“As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

Everything on earth has its time. What comes up, must come down. Kingdoms rise and fall. The same applies to greatness.

Following the farming analogy, there should be a season for:

  1. Planting (planning/preparation/goal-setting),
  2. Growing (working/executing plans),
  3. Harvesting (generating income/receiving recognition for efforts), and
  4. Resting

That’s right, there ought to be a season for Rest. Habit 7 by Stephen Covey is to “Sharpen the Saw”, referring to self-care/self-renewal. We’re all human. Even robots need a rest or they’d break down from over-use.

Mindset #3 is to understand which season you’re in, and flow according to it. Sounds pretty New Age, but let me try to break it down…

Seasons 1 to 3 are quite understandable. After 1, go to 2 . After 2, go to 3. However, our fast-paced society often encourages us to go back to 1 as soon as we finish 3.

Before we go back to 1, we need to pause and take a pulse check to determine our energy level. Do we have enough energy for another cycle of 1 till 3?

If yes, proceed. Otherwise, it’s the season for Rest.

At the end of the day, life is a series of mountains and mindsets are like our mountaineering tools. Use the right mindset for an appropriate season and it will help you greatly.

While we all face struggle and disappointments, what’s important is to enjoy the journey. Stop every once in awhile to take in the frozen beauty, the frigid air, and dripping stalagmites.

It’s a winter adventure.

At Bamboo Builders, we teach our community not just social entrepreneurial methodologies, but how to harness their powerful mindsets and skillsets as well.

That’s what’s enabled us to nurture more than 100 ground-up projects from agriculture to e-commerce, for schools and governments throughout Southeast Asia.



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Gabriel Tan

Impact Entrepreneur of the Year, Gabriel has trained thousands of young people in social entrepreneurship and incepted 13 social businesses throughout ASEAN.