Science of Learning - Dr. Srini Pillay

Many people think that well-being is a “soft” issue and not a management problem to solve. According to a study by Gallup, the impact of well-being on organizational performance is significant. For example, lower well-being is associated with $322 billion dollars of turnover and lost productivity globally.

Well-being is usually associated with eating well, sleeping well, exercising and taking care of our energy. But we often do these things reactively, only thinking about well-being when we reach the stage of burnout.

The High-performance Mindset

There are many aspects of a high-performance mindset, but in this article, I’d like to focus on three: psychological momentum, an abundance mindset and the possibility mindset. Individuals should strive to develop these mindsets at work and outside of work to make high performance a defining characteristic of who they are as they develop as leaders.

Psychological momentum: When people win repeatedly, this is not simply an outcome. The “feeling” of winning is most powerful when it is experienced as an “embodied” phenomenon. As a result, it can be automatically activated. Think of a soccer player who scores a goal. Rarely do you see such a player run back to their teams with their hands by their sides. Usually, their hands are up in the air, they are running, their hearts are beating quickly, and the feeling of the goal that they just scored is etched into their brains.

To develop psychological momentum, there are three basic practices to remember: Celebrate wins with a whole-bodied expression. Don’t be shy to show a fist pump or a high five. And since winning is associated with advancing, have a place where you can document and observe those wins. Take strategic breaks to refuel your brain, and limit disruptions to your work or practice. When you’re disrupted at high momentum, it can take a far greater toll, compared to the impact of disruption on someone working at a steady pace.

Abundance mindset: A scarcity mindset is one where people believe that there are not enough resources to win. This lowers the activation in a brain region that helps with goal-directed choice. In addition, scarcity mindsets impact brains so that they have less control over their thoughts. That’s why people with abundant mindsets perform better. They are more driven to reach their goals.

If you lose a few battles at work, consider that there are plenty of battles to win. Don’t hold back on giving your energy to the next task at hand. When you realize that you have unlimited potential and don’t have to dole out your psychological energy with excessive caution, this can be helpful. People with scarcity mindsets are more concrete and less expansive in their thinking, and they also have lower well-being, higher fatalism and lower protective behavior against challenges to their immunity.

Possibility mindset: A person with a possibility mindset believes in long shots. They go after high-risk, high-reward targets. If you’re risk-averse, you might avoid this. But doing so will limit the gains you can make.

In the brain, this behavior is associated with the activation of reward circuits as well. People who think this way also overestimate the likelihood of success, but they’re not afraid of failure. They see this as a necessary “breakdown” that signals the need for course correction. When you’re biased toward optimism, you feel more motivated and creative, and you have greater self-esteem. You may think your self-esteem is more protected when you’re cautious, but this is not the case.

Mindset is central to well-being. And a winning mindset is informed (but not deterred) by risk because it is well-prepared.