Spoken by The Tribe: Mind Shift: The Next Iteration.

I joined the Tribe, because I was stuck. Before joining the Tribe, instead of taking action I’ve done this:

Catastrophize – My internal monologue read like a Greek tragedy;

“I’ll never find another way to earn an income. I’ll suck my savings dry. I will lose my flat, possessions, and boyfriend. I will be alone. I will die alone”.

Control – I feel a burning desire for the clear road map of next steps. A plan with clear results before I take action. This entrenched mind set has served me very well:

Step 1:”Get into grammar school to escape the tough school you’ll end up in otherwise.”

Step 2: “Get good GCSEs so you can do A-levels and put off finding a job/career.”

Step 3: “Get good A-levels to get into uni to put off being a fully functioning independent adult for 3 more years.”

Step 4: “Get a 2.1, a good graduate job, earn a professional qualification to boost your salary and you’ll never be poor again…”

4 steps gave me 20 years of seemingly great results.

That Awkward Moment

That desire for control and road maps start to work against you when the obvious next steps all fill your soul with dread. No more well-trodden paths of easy next steps exist. No school aptitude tests to recommend the next course. No UCAS handbook for university admissions.  No graduate program. Oh shit.

So then I created control to calm my anxiety at the lack of apparent control before me;

“Financial control is the answer! I’ll build up a savings pot, so when I start this unchartered path I have a safety net to prevent any of the catastrophes above happening”.

But I can’t know what will happen, so I don’t know how much to save. So I don’t act. Stuck. Again. There really is no magic savings pot number. That isn’t the answer to get me out from being stuck. I need to be ok with not knowing…

Not Knowing can be fun

We’ve been told the biggest thing this tribe can offer us is a change in mind set. I totally agree. Mine is shifting based on what we’ve learnt and experienced. I’m approaching situations in different ways:

In a job interview last week I unapologetically stated what I valued in my current role and what was missing that I needed from my next one. In my old mind set I would have sought to please the interviewer and largely ignored my own agenda.

When the interview didn’t go well, instead of letting my inner critic explore why I was failure I objectively reflected. The role didn’t match my skills. I didn’t click with my potential boss. And I learned I want to work with outgoing people (the interviewer was the opposite).  I can take these learnings and apply it going forward. No failure. Just more wisdom.

So how has Tuesday’s session on “Not knowing” by Steve D’Souza helped shift my mind further?

Steve’s been a priest, prison warden, trainer, HR manager, charity worker, Head of Diversity at two major banks, speaker, psychotherapist, coach, and author. He now works for the FT in London and 3 days per week for a university in Madrid. In short: this guy’s had more roles than Meryl Streep.

That many roles indicates Steve’s never been stuck for a prolonged period of time. I’ve things to learn from this man about mind set. Here’s what resonated:

Reframe “I don’t know” into a positive thing that you think and say more often. It enables you to avoid hubris, over confidence and ensures you take responsibility for all your actions going forward.

When you’re on the edge of new experiences learn to notice you’re there and say to yourself “I am on the edge now…” Catastrophizing, seeking control, or feeling stuck are all indicators of being on the edge.

…I’m clearly there. So I need to say “I don’t know” and be positive about that. But how?

Being on the edge

Steve suggested we reframe how we envisage the unknown. Observe it with curiosity and wonder. When it’s ahead of us we should see opportunity, start with a “beginner’s mind set” and expect many exciting possibilities to unfold. “Don’t Mind The Gap” one of his pictures stated. Embrace it instead.

Steve offered practical tips on exploring the unknown and connecting to those exciting possibilities:

Start building your network when you don’t need something

Develop contacts and explore the future field now for your next move.

Build weak ties as well as strong ties outside your immediate contacts.

Get career advice from those who don’t know you too well and see you in a different light

Leverage existing relationships

He also recommended a phone call to potential new contacts as a follow up to a prior endorsement by our “Connectors” – which apparently has a 50% conversion rate in terms of leading to the new contact agreeing to meet with you.

This reminded me of a chat I’d had with an old uni friend last week where I shared my Escape story so far and told her I’d like to do more coaching. She suggested I meet her friend who runs an executive coaching company. My friend messaged her contact on LinkedIn introducing me. I followed up with a call and e-mail to the contact and we’re meeting for coffee next week. I need to think more about who my other “Connectors” are and share what I’m looking for – I can see it works, so the more exciting possibilities I can generate through this approach the better!

I took away these learnings which I’ll try and incorporate into my evolving mind set:

“There are many ways to enter a swimming pool”

I’m dipping my toes into several corners of the pool right now, but am starting to realise I can jump in anywhere and still then swim around until I find the part I like best.

Take the attitude that this is an “experiment” (my job interview last week is one of these), and does not need to be “this is my life now” (I don’t mind that I didn’t get that job – I learnt from it).

Live your vision widely.

The more people I tell about my values, ambitions and dreams, the more Connectors and opportunities I think I’ll find.

Let go of control, engage with “what is”

When I embrace this one I will award myself “Escape Zen Master” status.

What I’m noticing is that all these changes in my thinking are leading to a change in my behaviours and my actions, which is getting me different results. That doesn’t sound like ‘stuck’ to me. I’m now looking forward to the next unchartered steps.

I don’t know what or where they’ll lead me, but I’m now telling myself that that’s just fine.

Not Knowing as a positive

Bonus tip: If you fancy taking a stroll exploring the unknown I recommend Leybourne Road in Camden. This month street graffiti artists filled the walls of its abandoned buildings with dozens of amazing works; some I’ve included in this blog.


This is an anonymous guest post by a member from our current Escape Tribe.

For more information on The Escape Tribe, visit here.

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