Squeaky Wheels; Mindset Matters


“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” – Anais Nin

In my work, I talk a lot about mindsets and it’s not the easiest concept to explain, nor understand. So here is a very brief definition of just want I mean by the term. Mindsets are frameworks that guide us to particular assumptions, associations and expectations. They help us make sense of complex information by offering models ourselves and other objects in the world.

I’ll share a story and some re-framing tips to illustrate that they really do matter.

I’m traveling this week and haven’t done that in a long while, so I needed to pick up some staple items before my departure. I braved my way to Target despite the back-to-school and Labor Day craziness.

I just had a couple of things I needed, so I figured it wouldn’t be too torturous. I’m not a big fan of crowded places, especially in light of the on-going health risks.

As I walked in, I grabbed what looked like the last cart in the place, which was hard to fathom, but I soon learned the “truth” about my cart. It had a squeaky wheel. And I don’t mean just a random high-pitched whine. No, this was a constant moan that no shaking and jiggling could assuage.

I rolled with it, horrified and embarrassed of the constant noise. The further I got into the store, the more I cringed and other customers glanced at me, annoyed. One woman even said “oh that’s annoying,” as I made my way down the notebook aisle. The more I cringed and cowered, the more people treated me and my cart as something to be shunned and avoided.

As I continued on, I started to just accept it because I was going nowhere fast. Something shifted in me and I started to smile. I mean, really, who else, had a special squeaky moaning cart in the store that got them all the attention? Once, I cracked a smile, I recognized a shift in my posture and mood. I picked up my speed and my cart kept pace. A man walking by with his family, looked over at me beaming at him and started to laugh. I laughed with him. I cannot recall the last time I even cracked a smile in a Target store. Soon, I was chatting with other shoppers and making jokes. My whole attitude about the situation shifted. It became fun.

Research shows us that mindset does matter. From work done by Zion, Dweck and Crum, in medical settings, patients who have the mindset that their body is capable of healing may preferentially attend to signals that their body is handling an illness well and expect their body to manage an illness and the side effects of treatment – enhancing treatment efficacy. (full .pdf is available here: https://mbl.stanford.edu/sites/g/files/sbiybj9941/f/zioncrum_2018.pdf)

Mindset really does matter and research is showing this to be true over and over again.

The work of Carol Dweck at Stanford, who has extensively researched growth and fixed mindsets, identifies two types of mindset: fixed and growth. A fixed mindset assumes a situation or ability is fixed and not changeable. Whereas, a growth mindset sees situations as fluid and that everyone can learn and grow.

Based on Dweck’s work, here are 4 steps to shift your mindset:

  1. Recognize when the fixed mindset appears and allow it to be there
  2. See that you have a choice in the matter and that there are growth options available
  3. Talk to the fixed mindset persona that has arisen and pay attention to what arises when growth mindset actions are presented
  4. Take the growth mindset action

– – > Where is there are area in your life where you can shift the way you think about it?

I’d love to hear about it!



I work with mid-life men and women who want to feel younger through improving their relationship to food, movement and mindfulness.

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