The impact of “at this moment” in our self-talk

Fixed mindset self-talk: “This is who I am and this is what I am capable of.”

Growth mindset self-talk: “This is who I am and this is what I am capable of at this moment.”

(Feel free to replace “I am” with “you are”)

It often amazes me how habitually adding or removing a few words from our self-talk can have a lasting impact on how we view the world and respond to it.

Interpersonal skills vs. Intrapersonal skills

Job descriptions frequently cite interpersonal skills – or variants like the ability to influence cross-functional stakeholders – as a required or preferred qualification. While intrapersonal skills get the occasional mention (“self starter” or some equivalent), they don’t seem to ever make it up to the list of top 3 skills required.

What are intrapersonal skills and how do they differ from interpersonal skills? While interpersonal skills deal with the communication between two people, intrapersonal skills are about the communication we have with ourselves. They deal with our mindset, our approach to analysis and learning, and our response to situations.

We’ve likely had plenty of training on interpersonal skills. But, when it comes to intrapersonal skills, we are, for the most part, on our own. And, that’s a big miss because it is in our interest to focus first and foremost on our intrapersonal skills.

Interpersonal and intrapersonal skills are analogous to personality and character. There’s a saying that personality opens doors while character keeps doors open. That’s just one way of saying that the best long term indicator of your ability to build trustworthy relationships is your character.

Or, put another way, your interpersonal ability is only as good as your intrapersonal ability in the long run.

Can do

I was faced with a small situation recently where I got a reasonable request in a constrained situation.

In normal course, the request would have been easy to get done. But, current conditions made things hard.  My initial thought was to write out an excuse note detailing why it isn’t possible.

But, I paused and asked around instead. Initial prognosis – not good.

Wrote up that excuse note.

I think of myself as persistent. So, I asked around some more. Still no alternatives.

Completed that excuse note. I’m about to press send and then I stop. Have I really tried?

This time, I chat with a couple of folks who are just brimming with a can do attitude – one I’m clearly lacking at this point given my half hearted attempts at solving the problem. They rapidly think through solutions. That inspires me to ask around some more. And, this time, against all odds, we found someone who could replicate what we were looking for.

Problem solved. I removed the excuse email and shared the solution.

I was reflecting on that experience and took away a couple of lessons.

First, even if we had failed, I know from experience that it would have been well worth our effort. This is the often unacknowledged benefit of attempting something whose results are far from guaranteed. These journeys are worth it for the creativity and camaraderie they inspire.

Second, I was deeply inspired by the can do attitude of a couple of folks through the process. The odds didn’t look good but they attempted to spin up solutions anyway. And, that built the kind of momentum that was necessary to solve the problem. We are the average of the folks we spend our time with. Make sure these are folks who possess a can do attitude.

It is these folk who understand the nature of life’s most interesting problems. They all appear un-solvable.

Until they are.