I was raised in the South in the 1960s, when a woman’s place was in the home. If I dared to think oth­er­wise, all I had to do was look around. Almost every kid had two par­ents: a father who worked and a moth­er who stayed home. When moms did work out­side the home, it was as a nurse or teacher.

Nev­er­the­less, my par­ents expect­ed me to attend col­lege. After col­lege, I would mar­ry, have chil­dren, and be a stay-at-home moth­er. I want­ed to go along and get along, and so I most­ly did what my par­ents expect­ed. My mind-set was focused on three pos­si­ble paths: nurse, teacher, stay-at-home mom. (I am not say­ing there is any­thing wrong with these pro­fes­sions if they are what you tru­ly desire.)

As the world around me was swirling with change from the civ­il rights move­ment and the women’s move­ment, I felt held in place by my small com­mu­ni­ty and fam­i­ly beliefs.

When I was a senior in high school, my world­view was chal­lenged. Mr. Nel­son, my teacher at the time served the stu­dents in my pro­gram as more of a men­tor than a teacher. On one day, we sat down to talk about col­lege choic­es. I had no idea it would become a day that rocked my world. He asked me what I want­ed to study. My reply was sim­ple. I didn’t like nee­dles, so I could not become a nurse. The only option left was a teacher.

Mr. Nel­son paused for a moment and then, look­ing direct­ly in my eyes, said, “Young lady, if you were to go into med­i­cine, you would become a doctor.”

I was so tak­en aback by his state­ment that I hon­est­ly don’t remem­ber if I respond­ed. My head was swirling with for­eign ideas: Women as doc­tors? A career in med­i­cine? Could that be pos­si­ble? If so, what else could be possible?

Mr. Nel­son had offered me an oppor­tu­ni­ty to change my mind-set. I could stick with my three choices—teacher, nurse, or stay-at-home mom—or I could expand my think­ing. Over the next few weeks I took on the chal­lenge and began explor­ing. I went from three choic­es to an infi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ty of options. Grad­u­al­ly, as I opened my mind, I devel­oped a new mind-set: women can be any­thing they choose to be.

I made explor­ing career options a new adven­ture, look­ing at a vari­ety of avenues. How­ev­er, I felt pas­sion­ate about one career in par­tic­u­lar: account­ing. This pas­sion ulti­mate­ly laid the foun­da­tion for me to earn a degree in it, gain my CPA des­ig­na­tion, and start my own busi­ness in my twenties.

I was ready for a new per­spec­tive when Mr. Nel­son gen­tly nudged me to expand my hori­zons. Once I did, my new mind-set was my trea­sure to keep.

We live in a world sur­round­ed by peo­ple with lim­it­ing beliefs. The peo­ple who raise us—parents, care­givers, and teachers—share their lim­it­ing beliefs with us. They aren’t giv­en to us as a choice, but rather, as a truth. We see lim­it­ing beliefs played out dai­ly in the media, in inter­ac­tions with oth­ers, in hous­es of wor­ship. Pick a venue, and at least some of the time, you’ll find that a lim­it­ing belief is scream­ing at you.

The mind is pow­er­ful. No human has yet to har­ness its full pow­er. It is only recent­ly that sci­ence has begun to under­stand even the most basic ways the human brain functions.

My expe­ri­ence is that when I am up against a goal that I’m hav­ing a hard time meet­ing, it’s time to look at my mind-set. When I am super frus­trat­ed, I can choose two paths. One, to stay there and exhaust myself. Two, to stop for a moment and see the frus­tra­tion as a mes­sage from the uni­verse. Some­thing like, “Hel­lo, Mack­ey. We’ve noticed you are work­ing real­ly hard and are won­der­ing if you want to relax a bit and look at your mind-set.”

Any­time you find your­self lim­it­ed by a belief, take the time to ask your­self, What is the source of this belief? Is it true? Does this belief serve me in cre­at­ing my most pros­per­ous self? Is this belief some sort of arbi­trary mea­sur­ing stick I’ve been using to mea­sure myself and oth­ers by? It is time to let it go?

When I am not in cri­sis, I know  the uni­verse is always con­spir­ing for my high­est good. When I step back and see my prob­lems from this per­spec­tive, every one of them becomes an oppor­tu­ni­ty. All that is need­ed is a shift in my perspective.

That isn’t to say that once I change my mind-set, I instant­ly reach my goal. How­ev­er, once I align my beliefs with that goal, I am bring­ing the most pow­er­ful force in my com­mand to my mission.
Your mind-set is your gift to your­self. It is a force that con­tains the pow­er to expo­nen­tial­ly expand or severe­ly lim­it your pros­per­i­ty. It is with you in every moment, fram­ing your pos­si­bil­i­ties or lack thereof.

As a busi­ness own­er, the sin­gle most effec­tive thing you can do to become more pros­per­ous is to expand your belief sys­tem or mind-set. It is impos­si­ble to rise above your mind-set. Chang­ing it starts with bru­tal hon­esty in acknowl­edg­ing what it is today.

It is my hope that as this new year and decade begins, you will take the time to expand your mind­set. Start by inven­to­ry­ing your cur­rent beliefs. Then set a path to expand them.

To help you iden­ti­fy any mind­set lim­i­ta­tions that might be hold­ing you back, my first gift to you this year is the Pros­per­ous Mind Score­card. Click here to reach the score­card  Use it for your­self, with your part­ner, or with your team.  If you need help, reach me at Mackey@MackeyAdvisors.com

Be well and prosper,

Mack­ey McNeill