On this episode Josh spends time with Ana Melikian, PhD from Amaze Coaching, LLC. They talk about action vs. mindset in advancing and growing.
Ana Melikian mission is to empower purpose driven self-employed professionals to make a difference. She is a business coach with psychology background. Ana loves to help business owners achieve their goals, and she does that as the host of the MINDSET ZONE podcast and the CEO of AMAZE Coaching LLC.
In today’s episode you’ll learn:
- Is it mindset first or is it actions first?
- How to define mindset and what creates the action?
- Difference between growth mindset and the fixed mindset
- Is it possible to change mindset?
- How to go from “the world sucks and I suck” to ““the world is great and I’m great”?
Narrator: Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.
Josh: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. You’re at The Sustainable Business.
My guest today is Ana A. Melikian. Ana is an old friend of mine, not meaning that she’s age old but we’ve been friends for a while. I first met Ana at a thing called Book Yourself Solid. She is a senior certified coach at Book Yourself Solid. She has a PhD. She’s got like 900,000 different degrees. A really smart person.
The reason we’re talking today is I have this chicken and egg thing that’s been running around in my head for months now and I think that Ana can help us with that. Before I bring in Ana, I’ve got to tell you what my question is, “Is it mindset or is it action?” That’s what we’re going to talk about today. Let’s bring Anna on.
Hey, Ana. How are you today?
Ana: It’s wonderful to be here.
Josh: Well, thanks so much for joining me. Tell us a little bit about yourself before I get into my topic for the day.
Ana: I’m a business coach. My background is psychology. That is maybe the two important things here for our conversation today. And, of course, if people are wondering about my accent. Originally, I’m from Portugal and that is where my accent is a little bit different than people maybe are used to.
Anna, I know that you’ve done a lot of work around mindset. My question is, is it mindset first or is it actions first?
Ana: Because I think one of the things that I enjoy of all our previous conversations is I think let’s dig a little bit before I go exactly to my view on this. Because I think everything depends on how you define mindset. Because mindset is one of those words that is very used nowadays. Everybody, “Oh, you have to have a positive mindset. Oh, you have to work your mindset,” but there is not much definition of what does that mean. And then, out – work it out. And, in my view, we can see mindset as like a collection of thoughts or beliefs that shape the way we see the world. That will be a short definition of it. And we also can see mindset as habits of mind. I don’t know if you agree with this definition, if you have a different definition of mindset?
Josh: No. It’s actually a little bit different. Your first definition’s what I would call world view. I think world view comes out of stated and unstated values that we have. I think that when you play around with that, it’s really a good idea to take a deep dive into your values so you understand where your world view comes from.
Ana: How do you see mindset different from world view?
Josh: Mindset, to me, is what are my beliefs around something. A lot of times, I think mindset is often— I mean, this is just my idea and I really want to hear what you think about this, mindset is sort of the unconscious belief system that we live, that controls our actions, in a way. What’s your thought on that?
Ana: Another way of seeing, because I think they are – how do you say, there is a part of the world view and the mindsets that there is some com— how do you say, superposition of the two. And another way of seeing the mindset is like glasses. I think a great example is the glasses that you wear. You wear glasses. I wear glasses. Many people are having that experience, if it’s not the reading glasses or glasses will be the shades for the sun. It’s an experience that most people have. When we wear glasses for a while, we become unaware that we are wearing glasses so it’s that unconscious thing because we are not thinking that we are wearing glasses but we are.
There is a frame and the lens in our glasses. Mindset can be seen as that glasses that we have, that is, that filters the way we see the world and we are not always conscious about that filtering that we are doing. The filtering is that belief system that is there.
The thing that we can add to this metaphor is that we use different glasses for different occasions. And even with mindsets, we have different mindsets depending of the things that are around us. One of the authors that I love their work on mindset is Carol Dweck, that possibly you are familiar with her work. She speaks about the growth mindset and the fixed mindset.
The fixed mindset is the beliefs that we have about something that we have the belief that we cannot change. For instance, the belief of the mindset about our artistic abilities, if we are good to drawing, and to art, and creativity. Many of us, because we didn’t develop that, we believe that, “No, I’m not a good drawer and I will never be able to do a good sketch of another person.” I froze when I was like in fourth grade and is there where I am because I don’t have the capacity to be better than that. That will be a fixed mindset.
The grow mindset around it, that we can change from fixed to grow, we can change the glasses, start to question that and say, “No, you can learn things.” Yeah, maybe you will never. Probably, you will never be Picasso. Okay, we give you that. But you can improve a lot and do a really good sketch of somebody if you put the effort and the time to learn a set number of skills. That is possible. And that is the changing of beliefs. So, yes, a lot of time, our mindsets are unconscious but I think we can bring awareness to them, the life to it, and that allow us to change them.
Josh: The thing that you are talking about, I think, gets to a question– and I want to go to a fellow named Dave Logan, but there’s a question is that, “Is it better for us to focus on our strengths or improve our weaknesses?” I’ve asked this question probably to over a thousand people over the years, and the answer is a really interesting answer I get, depending on who it is I’m asking it to. So, if I ask that question to a group of business owners, universally – except for two people, and I’ve probably asked 500 to 600 business owners this question. They always answer is improve my strengths. When I asked this to employees, is to improve my weaknesses. And I just find that absolutely fascinating.
Ana: In my opinion, my answer will be it depends of the circumstances because I think there is place for both things.
Josh: Well, here’s what I’ve learned. This is from my own personal experience. I kind of had this Piaget thing going on with business management as I look around me and see what I see. I think it’s a generalized principle because I believe they’re all pretty similar at the end of the day. But here’s what I’ve learned in my own life, I can get all the way up to highly functional mediocre for things I don’t have talent at. And I can be world class at things I do have talent at with the same amount of effort.
For the most part, I mean, there are things that I— like I’m playing around with video editing, which I don’t have a ton of edit talent for but it’s fun, so I put time into it. I became a mediocre musician by practicing really hard. I became a mediocre athlete by practicing really hard. But I became a world class business consultant by taking the skill set I had and putting the same amount of effort in but a much better result. Wouldn’t it make sense to just focus on that area where you have that unique ability and manage the rest of the stuff around you?
Ana: Again, I go to the annoying “it depends” because, for instance, thinking about a business that is starting. One person that is starting a business – some small business, brick and mortar or even an online business. In the beginning, it’s good to have the capacity and the grit to wear different hats, to do different things, to even learn the mediocre but get it done, and to get things out of the ground. If we stay there, then we just have a mediocre business.
Josh: Right, that’s where most business owners are, by the way.
Ana: Yes. But then, if we arise that. Okay, we did so far. We got it out of the ground. Now, what is the next step of growing? It’s different circumstances, a different moment. Now is the time to focus on my strengths and start to build the team where they have their strengths in things that I’m not as good as and grow from there. And that will allow the business to grow.
In the beginning, it’s good to have the capacity of the different hats, even if some hats are not so good. Uh-uh, we are not so good at them. But then, we have to have the capacity of saying, “Okay, now, it’s time to change that dynamic.” And that is the tricky thing. This is what Marshall Goldsmith launched his career on with “what take you here will not take you there.”
The things that make us successful until a certain point like being able to wear the different hats and learn loads of stuff and make it okay at least to get it out of the door, then will not work if we want to take it to the next level. And in the next level, it’s like if you want to be a world class athlete, okay, you focus on the area where your genes, where your nature is already good and you have to put a lot of work to go to the top, and you can become the top one or in the top class. It’s much more difficult to do that if you are not playing on your strengths. But even in that case, sometimes there can be a weak point that you need to address in order to catalyze your strengths. I don’t see it as either/or.
Josh: Well, I mean, it’s absolutely true that if you are working on your strengths, you’re going to have to work on some of those strengths more than other strengths. Let’s say I’m a great athlete like I’m a basketball player and I can’t shoot an 18-foot jump shot. Well, I’m going to practice at 18-foot jump shots so I can actually do the rest of my game better which is enough.
But if you look at my beginning in the vending business, which is my first business I did for 20 years, my joke is, “I should never have tools in my hand” because I’m completely spastic trying to fix things. I remember spending 2-1/2 hours trying to fix something with a cigarette machine back in 1976 which took a mechanic literally three minutes to fix. Even when you’re starting a business, if you find yourself spending hours, and hours, and hours not being successful at something, you need to stop that and find someone that can do it. Otherwise, your business never gets off the ground.
Ana: And the question is, did you learn from that experience of spending two hours and something to try to fix the cigarette machine?
Josh: Oh, yeah. I learned very quickly that I should never try to be a mechanic [laughs].
Ana: Because I think, it’s that capacity of learning that is the important thing. How quick are we to learn? How quick are we to adapt to the new circumstances?
Josh: I think a lot of that is telling yourself the truth. You know, I have to look myself in the mirror and say, “Look, here’s where I’m good at.” You know, I am not an especially warm, fuzzy guy. And if I need warm fuzzies in my organization, I really need to bring somebody in who’s good at that. I tend to be to the point and a little bit blunt. Some would say ridiculously blunt. The truth is I’m pretty blunt. I don’t want to spend a lot of time making people feel good although I want people to feel good.
Ana: Let’s go in that example because I think that shows another nuance of this because that is a strength, being able to tell things as it is. Many business owners, high achievers, they appreciate that, so that is a strength and possibly you polish that strength. And at the same time, that is like, we can call it a shadow of that strength that if you didn’t have learned during all your years of experience that there are right moments to say things and not right moments to say things, you possibly will not be so successful as you are.
Josh: Oh, yeah. We have to sort of know when to keep your mouth shut and I unfortunately don’t always follow that. And so [laughs]–
Ana: Because that is the action.
Circling back, if we see the mindset as the set of glasses that we put, that is our beliefs, that filter the way that we see the world. And yes, that, as a consequence, in the way that we think, in the way that we behave, in the way that we act.
It can be the temptation to think that, “Okay, is that that creates the action?” And we can see things from that perspective. But it’s there, I think, where it comes the egg and the chicken. We can say, “Yes, the chicken comes from the egg. But for every egg you have to have a chicken.” We have a certain filtration system. You have to have actions. You have to have learnings that create that filtration, that glasses that you wear.
I think, for me, it’s not “what comes first?” The right question is “what is easy for a certain person for us to help change?” because by changing that, we are changing the other. Some people, it’s by changing their circumstances, their surroundings – get them in the action mode even without them understanding exactly why, that will change the way they think about things. Other people, we really have to work their thinking and their beliefs first, in order for them to change actions and [inaudible 00:15:01] what is the leverage that is easy to tap into.
Josh: You just started talking about something which I actually think is the crux of this whole thing, is it mindset first or is it action first? This is really important for people who are listening, who own businesses and want to “motivate their employees” which is, you have to meet people where they are.
There’s an organization development guy at USC named Dave Logan. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him but Dave Logan talks about four stages of where people are. I’m paraphrasing. It’s not exactly what he says but it’s close enough. The world sucks. I suck. The world’s okay but I still suck. The world is okay and I’m okay. The world is great and I’m great. You have to take people from– if you have people who are minimum wage, blue collar workers, they’re going to likely come to you with “the world sucks and I suck” world view. You cannot move them into “the world is great and I’m great.” You have to take them through the stages. It seems to me—I just want to run this by you, that if the world sucks and I suck is my world view, it’s actions before world view. If I can’t get you to take an action and fake it till you make it, you’re never going to move out of that world.
Ana: Okay, so let’s go slowly.
Ana: The phases that you are describing is the world suck, I suck. The world is okay but I suck. And then, the world is great and I’m great?
Josh: Yeah. but the one before this world’s okay and I’m okay.
Ana: Yeah, it’s okay, so it’s a gradient there. It’s okay, I’m okay. So, 1, 2, 3, 4. So if the person has a vision of the surroundings that’s negative. It’s everything against me and nothing is— and they see themselves as, “I cannot do anything about— I’m not good at this.”
Again, it depends of the personality traits of the person because there is no doubt that changing a little bit the system around the person will help move the person because we human beings, we are animals. We live in a group and the way that dynamic of the group has an influence in us, as individuals, without any doubt. And by changing that dynamic around us, that is going to have an effect upon us. And, at the same time, we have examples of people that they have the worst dynamics around them and they manage to be the agent of change.
Try to give me a concrete example because I think it will be easier to go from there.
Josh: I’ll tell you what I call the Tanya story. I’ll tell you the fast version. Tanya was somebody who worked in my commissary making sandwiches for me. You’ve probably actually heard me re‑telling the story. I’ve told it like a gazillion times. Tanya was doing a terribly job, just terrible job. And to get Tanya—so I didn’t have to fire here, I had to get her to take action about fixing the food that she was making. Once I got Tanya to take responsibility for fixing the food, which was the first step, then her mindset started to move into, “I will be personally responsible. I’m not going to blame my manager and I’m not going to justify my way through working in this company or actually living my life.” By making that first step, Tanya got in the position where she was able to move through the stages where she eventually got to the point where “the world is pretty good and I’m okay.” But we had to go step by step by step and it was over a period of years. Tanya went from being somebody who’s on my list to fire to being my commissary manager.
Ana: My main thing is that the entry point could have been both. If she had gone to an event where they spoke a lot about the power of positive thinking and she got very motivated with that, then you can improve what you do and you can be better, and she arrived there and that she changed a way of what she was doing, and then build from that, that collab work or by learning to do things in a different way, acting in a different way, she start to change her mindset. I think, always can be both ways. The question is “what is the easiest way in a certain set of circumstances?” And sometimes it’s the action.
Josh: My point is there are times where action needs to lead mindset.
Ana: Yeah, totally. And I totally agree.
Josh: And there are times where mindset has to lead action. I want to go into the mindset leads action in a second but we’re at the end of our time for the podcast recording. We’re going to continue on with this at Facebook Live. By the way, if you’re listening to this in the podcast, if you want to find the rest of the conversation, go to my Facebook page which is AskJoshPatrick and you can listen to the end of it.
But, Ana, I know people are going to want to find you. How do they go about doing that?
Ana: The easiest way is my website, that is my name Ana A-N-A, Melikian M-E-L-I-K-I-A‑N.com. AnaMelikian.com. There, you’ll find all the information about me and all YouTube, my podcast too, the Mindset Zone, Facebook – all the regular social media presence.
Josh: Just to let you know, Ana has an outstanding website. Every time I look it, I say, “Why isn’t my website that good?” It’s a wonderful website.
I also have an offer for you. I wrote a book this year. It’s called Sustainable: A Fable About Creating a Personally and Economically Sustainable Business. It’s pretty easy to get. You can get it Amazon, but you may want to go to my website which is www.sustainablethebook.com. And if you buy the book there, you get a free 20-minute conversation with me. I wrote 38-page ebook on how to do the stuff that we talk about in the book. The book is a parable which means it’s fiction and there’s not a lot of how-to’s in the book itself but I wrote what you need to do to implement what we did in Sustainable.
This is Josh Patrick. You’ve been at the Sustainable Business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an email at email@example.com.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.