A prominent Juvenile Court Judge in our State retired some years back and a statement she made in her final public presentation has always stuck with me. She said that in her 30-something years as a judge, every child and teen that appeared before her had one thing in common – they had never played a team sport.

Today I watched my 15 year old son Sam’s soccer game, and as I marvelled at what a fast game it was, it occurred to me that success in the game depended on a mindset that I would refer to as a ‘substance’ mindset. I also witnessed a ‘survival mindset’ event.

To be successful, the players needed to:

  • feel safe and confident enough to engage assertively
  • pass the ball to another team member who may be in a better position to score the goal, giving away the glory
  • know their team members and their strengths, weaknesses and habitual plays, and work WITH that reality not against it
  • communicate constantly with each other on the run in ‘shortcode’ so that they all knew where each other was and who was in a position to help

and the one I admired the most….

  • immediately let go any emotion around an attack from the opposition, a bad play from a fellow team player, or a bad play from themselves….and instantly focus on what needs to happen next to keep the game moving toward a successful outcome.

This game doesn’t stop for anyone (except the Referee). There is no time to wallow on the past….literally. In every instance, what a team member decides to do next – emotionally and in terms of play- is what matters most, and it impacts the entire team and can significantly impact the outcome. One bad mood can lose a game.

This is a ‘substance mindset’ – a mastery over one’s human responses in challenging situations.

In the workplace this is what survival and substance mindsets look like.

Shifting From Survival To Substance

Time to ask yourself: Are you and your team operating from a Survival or a Substance mindset? What impact is that having?

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