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The Mindset of Outliers

Our mindset determines how far we go in life; “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you're right” ~ Henry Ford. The title of this blog is a combination of two books I’ve read, and they came to mind as I watched the interview by the SitMpod hosts with Gwendoline Ngu; CEO of Sway Shore, Face of Cancer Survivors/Warrior, Inspirational Speaker, and Healthcare Professional.

Before we go into how these two books connect with her story, let us take a look at the purpose of the SitMpod blog and my role as a contributor.

About SitMpod blog

The purpose of the blog is to provide another aspect through which people can be empowered, mentally strengthened and challenged to break out of a rut and take that leap of faith. People connect differently with different sources of information output. Some may do better with interacting via Facebook Live during the SitMpod interviews or social media in general. Some may prefer visuals via YouTube excluding all the other distractions competing for your attention on social media. Others may do better with audio via Soundcloud or ApplePodcast while others may connect better with words; as in reading. Some may benefit from more than one output or the added benefit of reading from another perspective.

One of my roles as a contributor to the SitMpod is via the blog to share my personal experience and another perspective in connection to books I’ve read and the impact it has had and continued to have in my life. The blog posts will mostly be monthly; occasionally twice a month, in relation to either mental health, a guest who featured on the podcast or some topic/idea that I’m nudged to share which will be along the same lines of the purpose of the SitMpod.

In case anyone is wondering; how do I decide who/what to write about? Do I listen to some or all interviews and how am I able to connect a guest’s interview/story to a book? Well… what I decide to write about and how I connect it to a book I’ve read comes to mind either while I’m listening/watching the interview or during a moment of silence. I mentioned in my previous blog post that I enjoy listening to silence. A quote from Ram Dass “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” This was not an easy concept to grasp when I first came across it, but it somewhat made sense after I read the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I struggled and still struggle with practicing a few of the recommendations one of which is meditation or quieting my mind for five to ten minutes per day (preferably in the early hours of the morning) with the goal of getting to15 minutes. Wait a minute! I think I diverted!

Back to the questions above… Yes, I’ve listened to all the interviews; some more than once and I’ve learned something from each of them. I’ll be sharing a collection of what I’ve learned from each guest interview in another blog post as a review of our (SitMpod) journey so far.

That being said, how does Gwendoline Ngu’s story connect with The Mindset of Outliers? Gwendoline Ngu graced us with her presence last month on her birthday all the way from New York! Check out the interview if you haven’t yet.

I first heard about Gwen’s when a friend sent me a link back in July 2015. I didn’t know her, but I followed the story because I identified with her in certain aspects, so I supported to the best of my ability until her interview with SitMpod. Prior to her interview, I also read two articles by iHeart Health Expo; 50 Shades of Pink and The Bra Dress. I had not heard about the bra dress prior to reading this article, so I was moved by her story, the concept behind the dress and to see that Gwen got to wear it. As Gwen shared her story during the SitMpod interview, she mentioned the word “mindset” a few times, and she identified as being more of a warrior than a survivor, and with that, I thought of “outlier.” That’s how the title of this blog post came about.

The Mindset by Carol Dweck describes two types of mindsets. Our mind is our strongest and weakest weapon. How is that possible?! Think about this; when we experience a setback or challenge, if we decide in our mind that we will overcome it, then we will find the strength/motivation and draw on external support to strive. But if we are already defeated in our mind, it doesn’t matter how much external support or resources we have available to achieve; it will be difficult to thrive. Our mind can either be a master (control us) or be a servant (we control it). As an Occupational Therapist, one thing I frequently encourage my patients to do is get out of bed especially if they have the ability to do so irrespective of the amount of assistance they need because once you get out of bed, you feel you have accomplished at least one thing, and you will be motivated to try at something else.

A personal experience; I am an early riser, I’m generally awake around 5 AM and I find strength in the break of dawn and sunrise. During the Winter months, I find it hard to get out of bed even though I am awake, but I have to put myself in that mindset to get out of bed; typing this just reminded me of the book The Five Second Rule by Mel Robins. “When there is a will, there is a way”  quote by Pauline Kael. One of my favorite lines from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho “when you truly want something, the universe will conspire to help you achieve it.” I interpret this to mean, when you truly want something, you’ll be motivated to work hard at it, and your efforts will pay off... I think I just diverted again! Where are emjois when I need them?!

Now let us talk about the book The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I love books that use scientific research to investigate and explain an outcome. Mentioned in the book is a scientific study that sort to understand why the people of Roseto in Pennsylvania lived longer irrespective of the fact that they didn’t eat the healthiest of food nor was exercise a major part of their lifestyle. It was found that family, social and community support played a major role in the good quality of life they had and they died as a result of aging. This is not to say that healthy eating and exercise aren’t very important aspects for a long healthy life; this study was done in the 1960s, and there weren’t as many processed foods and environmental pollution like we have today. The Winter season is considered to be one with high rates of depression, so we are urged to check on one another, spend time together and support one another, not only finally but also physical presence. Gwen did mention how much support she got through her journey with breast cancer as well as when she lost her son to brain cancer.

Some outliers mentioned in the book include; Bill Gates and late Steve Jobs, wonder what mindset they had? The two types of mindsets are; growth mindset and fixed mindset. The book explains how mindsets play out in every aspect of our daily life. It also answers the question of IQ test and intelligence; the most successful people weren't/aren’t necessarily”smart” nor did/do they have high IQ's, but they had/have a growth mindset and put in the work to achieve their success. Other mentioned outliers include Mozart, Beethoven, and Einstein. Success requires effort and preparation; put in your 10,000 hours of practice which has been associated with expertise and achieving mastery. That breaks down to three hours per day and 20 hours per week. How long will it take to get to 10,000 hours?! Do the math… about ten years. I know ten years sounds like a distant future but think in terms of; A journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. Success doesn't happen overnight, but it is achievable. We just have to be determined, stay the course and weather the storms/challenges.

I purposely left the full title of both books to be mentioned at the end because they both contain the word “Success” which is defined differently by different people. Mindset: New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck and Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. What is “Success for you” is a question we ask our guests on the SitMpod. Think about it for yourself and answer it. There is the social construction to relate success with $$$ thereby limiting it to a monetary value while forgetting that success could be found in the challenges we have triumphed, the bonds/relationships we have formed and the people we have helped by sharing our story. This is also mentioned in the book Mami Pikin Talks: A safe Space to be You by Eurykah Fon-Ndumu which I wrote a blog post on reviewing the book and Gwen got to receive one during the interview. Did you grab a copy yet?!

Those with “growth mindsets convert life's setbacks to future success”; that’s Gwen’s story as she is also the CEO of Sway Shore. You would understand better if you’ve watched the interview (link above). The book on mindset has short quizzes in it and multiple scenarios to help you determine your mindset and that of children as early as kindergarten age. A google search will give you general ideas on both mindsets.

PIc from Google

Another book I’ll throw in there is Change your thoughts, change your life by Wayne D Dyer. Too many books I know! I’ll expand a little more on them in another blog post. Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with this question to ponder on as the year comes to an end; what mindset do you have? Has it been working for you or against you? Share your thoughts and discovery below.

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