An American Income Life Leadership Mindset: It’s All In Your Head

American Income Life leaders choose to change

As an American Income Life leader, you are not only influencing others, but impacting them – for better or worse. We all have the ability to uplift or dishearten others. But by adopting a leadership mindset, we can ensure that to the best of our ability and intentions, we are impacting others in a positive way.

American Income Life Region Sales Director Steve Kafkis

American Income Life Region Sales Director Steve Kafkis

Your impact stems directly from your mindset as a leader, because your mindset affects your behaviors, which then affects your results. So what is your mindset?

The term “mindset” means a mental attitude or inclination. Our attitude determines our behavior, and our behavior produces specific results. If you are getting effective results from those you are leading, you are having a positive impact on them, and therefore yourself. And vice versa.

Are we getting the results or having the impact we want, or are we experiencing unwanted results and outcomes? By looking at the relationship between our mindset, our behavior, and our impact, we can integrate all three components to generate the results we really want.

Your behavior is representative of your mindset. As an American Income Life leader, you want to maintain a leadership mindset. If your perspective is filled with negativity or limiting beliefs, then you have a mindset that will negatively affect others, and will not give you the results you desire. If your mindset however, is on abundance, strengths and positivity – which are qualities of a leadership mindset – then you will positively influence others and achieve your desired results.

We often engage in behaviors without considering that we have a choice in whether or not to engage in them. If our circumstances are not going the way we desire, we may feel and act like a victim. But if you make different choices about your behavior and change your actions, your results will change. You can stop being a victim of your circumstances.  

It is important to note that changing your behavior is not sustainable unless you change your negative mindset to a leadership mindset. A great example of this is what happens when people lose weight. If they just change their behavior – such as eat fewer calories – they lose weight. But if they don’t change their mindset around food, exercise and a healthy lifestyle, they rebound and gain their weight back because they haven’t changed the underlying problem – they haven’t changed the mindset that drives them to overeat.

Changing your behavior without changing your mindset is not sustainable. Changing your mindset, however, creates sustainable behavioral change.

Observe your impact on others, observe your actions as you carry them out, and observe your mindset as it fills your thoughts and shapes your attitudes. When you notice negative, limiting thoughts, make a choice and shift your perspective to an abundant leadership mindset.

Many American Income Life leaders constantly sabotage their own professional and personal growth by simply getting in their own way. Are you perhaps creating unconscious obstructions on the path to a higher level position, a greater income, more visibility within American Income Life Insurance Company, or “celebrity status” as a recognized expert in our industry? We are all susceptible to this insidious phenomenon, so let’s take a look at two fundamental self-limiting forces that often prevent people from experiencing the success they want and deserve. Learn to spot them and you’ll be able to start eliminating them.

1) Negative Self-Talk

One way we impede our own success is by having negative internal conversations in our heads. These conversations can happen anytime, but usually they occur when you are under stress or out of your comfort zone. They often take place when someone is meeting with a new prospect, interviewing for a top-level position, or asked to accept greater responsibility in the leadership spotlight. If you were to download the audio soundtrack of your internal conversations to your iPod, what would you hear? Chances are you’d hear insecurities expressed like this:

  • What if I am not as good as the other managers?
  • What if I fail at this position?
  • What if my agency doesn’t respect me?
  • What if I am too old to be a dynamic leader?

Stop playing the “what if” game. Yes, every successful American Income Life leader has had these types of deep internal conversations over the historical timeline of their career. But the really extraordinary AIL leaders quickly learn to embrace change – even when it makes them uncomfortable to experience exponential growth and transformation. They quickly become attuned to listen for the negative chatter. When they begin to hear that old familiar mental recording they instantly interrupt with positive dialogue. They extinguish the negativity and erase the destructive language from their internal vocabulary. Train yourself to listen for that negative channel and when you hear it, simply change the channel and replace the content with positive messages like:

  • I am confident that I am as good as my peers.
  • I know that without a doubt I am going to be a highly successful SGA/MGA/RGA/fill-in-the-blank.
  • I feel humbled that my agency respects me as a leader.
  • I have a wealth of life experience that contributes to my being a dynamic leader.

2) Are You Thinking Too Small?

When you think about your career journey with American Income Life are you thinking gigantically, or timidly small? Many AIL leaders, or high achievers, don’t think big enough so they continue to plod along in unremarkable careers wondering why they haven’t accomplished more. I encourage everyone to think big and cultivate a large vision of possibility and potential. There is a really big dream that lives deep down in your consciousness. Maybe you’ve kept it a secret from your friends, family members, colleagues and significant other because you assume they would consider it preposterous. You can keep it to yourself, but don’t diminish it – let it grow!

There are terms called fixed and growth mindset.  A fixed mindset describes those with a fixed theory of intelligence that believe they are born with a certain set of skills and their success is based on innate abilities. Plainly speaking, those people believe they either have a particular talent or they don’t.

I’m not a psychologist, but it appears that if someone has a fixed mindset, they are not open to self-improvement. Instead of finding ways to keep learning and evolving as a leader, they simply remain the same. Anything new is avoided because it may show weakness, and they are apprehensive to failure because it will mean a negative statement on their abilities. As a result, these individuals don’t reach their full potential.

When they get stuck in a rut, good luck to them because they will be there for a long time.

Now on the opposite end of the spectrum, those with a growth mindset view success as being based on hard work and learning. These individuals believe they can always get better at what they do and have untapped potential. They are willing to stretch their comfort zone, and look at criticism and failure as opportunities to grow.

Arguably, a growth mindset allows one to live a more successful life. And for those with a fixed mindset you’re in luck because one’s mindset, of course, can be altered.

One definition of mindset is a set of beliefs or a way of thinking that determines one’s behavior, outlook, and mental attitude.

Recognizing that we can choose whether or not to engage in certain behaviors is the first step toward changing your leadership mindset.

If you would like to change your mindset, here are a few tips:

Listen to the perspective of others

One of the best ways to get a clear picture of your behavior is to gather feedback from those around you. Gaining clarity on your existing performance helps identify weaknesses that need improving, as well as strengths that can be leveraged. Effective American Income Life leaders are open to feedback, both positive and negative, and will use it to improve their performance.

Be open to change

Defensiveness is a major blockage to accurate and comprehensive self-knowledge. Defensive people tend to overrate themselves in the eyes of others. To break the cycle, follow the rules of good listening without responding, then write down the criticisms and reflect on which ones might have some element of truth in them. Choose one area in which to focus your development.

Recognize your strengths

Building on an earlier point, understanding what your strengths are, and how you can leverage them to help mitigate any weaker skill areas, will prove crucial in your mindset transition. But don’t allow yourself to sit on your laurels, patting yourself on the back for past accomplishments. Instead, broaden and improve upon your strengths by finding new ways to utilize these skills. Becoming a mentor where you are passing along your knowledge to others is one of the best ways to hone your existing skill sets. Pursue challenges that stretch your skills even farther.

In short, the key to change is committing to a change in mindset. And we are oftentimes our own worst enemy in this department. Just remember, it really is all in your head.

About Mark Ting

Mark Ting is a Staff Writer at Torchmark Corporation, writing about American Income Life and National Income Life Insurance Companies. Google+

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