Great mindsets do great things

Yong Yang
7 min readMay 12, 2022


Your mindset defines everything

Photo by William Olivieri on Unsplash

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” said Albert Einstein. In other words, solving a problem requires an elevation in mindset, otherwise, it will be difficult to solve.

Individual differences lie in the differences in mindsets.

People, with lower cognitive levels, who think in terms of self-interest are blinded by the superficial and unable to perceive reality; some can see reality, but with chaos and disorder; only a minority could appreciate a beautiful world.

Robert Dilts, a vanguard in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), divided logical thinking into six levels, creating an analytical tool known as the “Neurological Levels”.

He believes that humans’ neurological levels are spirituality, identity, values and beliefs, capabilities, and environment from top to bottom.

Different levels have different concerns and manifestations.

Credits: CEEOL

1. Environment:

Individuals who are at this level focus on the external, objective components and deem the occurrences of problems are the faults of others or that the environment is not favourable to them.

They tend to seek from the outside and its main manifestation is: complaining.

For example, career bumps are the results of economic recession, or not being valued by their superiors.

2. Behaviours:

Individuals who possess this mindset concentrates on their behaviours and they manifest through more action.

“I am not putting enough effort. So I should work even harder.”

Does it sound familiar to you? If yes, it is simply because of your lack of action.

Wages are low? Have multiple part-time jobs.

As long as you work hard enough, regardless of the economic climate, you will overcome all obstacles.

3. Capabilities:

People with this mindset are concerned about their skill upgrading for they consider the lack of capabilities as the root cause of problems, and its manifestation is: learn, learn, and learn.

The fact that my job is not done properly is because I am not competent enough for it, so I will find ways to increase my competence.

The capabilities level is the highest level that our consciousness can intuitively perceive and can solve most of our day-to-day problems.

Everyone has infinite possibilities. One can improve and develop through enhancing his capabilities.

4. Values and Beliefs:

Once you arrive at this level, aim for what matters most to yourself and what you want. The motto you should live by is to do what is right.

While the capabilities level aids you in figuring out the ways to success, this level enables you to choose the best answer.

Never calculate the gains and losses, act on the basis of whether it is right.

5. Identity:

Asking yourself who you want to become can be challenging. Nonetheless the answer to the question shapes who you are in the future.

You make and take certain choices and actions respectively according to who you are.

Being a successful entrepreneur ought to remind you that you have been entrusted by the larger society to manage a large amount of wealth responsibly.

6. Spirituality:

Attain a level of spirituality provokes you to contemplate your relationship with the world around you and what change you will bring about.

The meta-question you always ask is: how do I make the world a better place?

Truth be told, only a small minority could attain this as they constantly ponder on their relationship with the world.

Great leaders are spiritual leaders who invest their efforts in the people they serve; great entrepreneurs who care for their employees’ happiness and work tirelessly; great statesmen never stop thinking about what more they could do in improving the state of their nations and the world.

An individual’s mindset is capable of switching from one level to another.

When considering the direction of a company’s development or one’s life choices, the focus is on the top three levels; the actions that come after the decisions made are related to the bottom three levels.

As a startup founder, you would say:

“Although we’re now a small company, we will first strive to be the best in the country, then the best in the region, and the best globally.

“While working towards the material and spiritual happiness of our employees, we are also contributing to the progress and development of mankind.”

These are the manifestations of the top three neurological levels.

The upper limit of one’s neurological level determines the capacity to solve problems and hence the outcome.

For instance, conflicts between departments could seem complicated, but as the incident unravels, the causes were miscommunication, inaccurate use of language, etc. Which were mostly due to trivial reasons.

However, this is often not the case. Some might make a mountain out of a molehill because they want to seek your attention. In other words, they are more self-interested.

As such, asking yourself what is the right thing to do helps you solve problems easily.

It means making a fair and accurate judgement which requires a pair of eyes that is unbiased, not blinded to unnecessary details and strikes the vital point.

Therefore, the more complex a problem is, the quicker you need to return to ground zero and make a judgement based on fundamental principles.

As long as you are optimistic and honest, problems that are challenging can be resolved based on right and wrong.

We should possess the ability to simplify things and grasp the essence.

A problem may be irresolvable in the eyes of someone on a lower neurological level; on the contrary, it can be easily resolved by another individual on a higher neurological level. Perhaps the problem itself would have disappeared.

The top three levels influence the bottom three levels

The relationship between the top three and bottom three levels is akin to that between an object and its shadow. The shadow changes when the object changes.

Feeling perplexed? It is likely due to the excessive concentration on the bottom three levels in your thought process, and a lack of deep thinking about the top three levels. Nevertheless, individuals and companies are all driven by the top three levels.

Lower level problems can be solved easily with higher-level mindsets, but it would be difficult to solve higher-level problems with lower level mindsets.

The identity level can solve problems on the capabilities level, but not the reverse. For instance, Steve Jobs’ motto “To live is to change the world” can be attributed to his definition of his identity which inspired him, and built his capability, to innovate.

Lower levels are more prone to change, while higher levels are less prone to change.

The top three levels are influenced by genes, personality traits and individual experiences. As such, one does not change his values easily as they are strongly stable. But the environment can be changed easily.

However, it is perfectly fine to encounter problems on the levels for the key is on the higher levels.

How to raise your neurological level?

1. The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle was formulated by the inspirational speaker, Simon Sinek. It suggests we start questioning progressively from within to without, instead of the reverse like how an onion is peeled.

We begin by asking “why” to find out the root cause of an issue or the underlying logic of anything; “how” informs us of the logical system through which solutions are formulated; lastly, “what” shapes our operational model.

On the individual level, we should first identify meaning and purpose before conceiving a detailed plan and executing it afterwards.

Credits: Simon Sinek

2. Think of your Mission, Vision and Character

Leaders must possess the following:

First, leaders should dream of their organisations’ future and articulate the vision to their followers.

Leaders will have to set clear visions and goals, be adamant in realising them, and share the fruits with their followers.

Secondly, leaders should offer a compelling reason why the visions must be achieved. In other words, establishing their organisations’ mission statement.

Leaders will develop an organisational mission to which all followers agree and that is honourable. It also cultivates sense of purpose among the latter.

Thirdly, leaders must be characters of virtue.

No matter how lofty the goals and objectives are if leaders are not virtuous enough, their followers will not stick through thick and thin.

Additionally, leaders who do not have virtuous character often place their interests before the greater good, making erroneous decisions that lead the organisations in the wrong direction.

Therefore, the principal task of a leader lies in sharing a hopeful future in simple terms with all followers.

The leader must also strengthen followers’ sense of mission to work proactively.

Most importantly, to realise the vision, leaders must be virtuous.

3. Consider the time dimension

When we consider an issue within a short time frame, the prospects could seem bleak.

For a situation to evolve, it takes time depending on its nature. A time frame of two to three years may not be any different.

Thinking in terms of decades, say twenty to thirty years, is a completely different cognition. You will witness profound changes as things evolve for a longer period.

Mindsets determine the future

One’s level of success will be commensurate with his neurological levels.

The neurological level framework has offered us a mental model that reminds us to temper our self-interest but think of the greater good.

Charlie Munger once said:

I've long believed that a certain system — which almost any intelligent person can learn — works way better than the systems that most people use. What you need is a latticework of mental models in your head. And, with that system, things gradually get to fit together in a way that enhances cognition.

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