MINDSET COACHING: Let’s burn the status quo mentality

By recognising three harmful mentalities that can keep you or your clients stuck in a rut, you can take positive steps to change your future.

If you’re not moving forwards, you’re moving backwards. This is true because the world around you stops for no one, and that pace of change is getting faster and faster.

When one year looks and feels the same as the previous, then you can safely say you’re in the status quo. As we delude ourselves that life is ‘comfortable’, years go by before we realise that all our hopes, plans and goals for the ‘future’ should have been achieved, or at least acted upon by now.

If the status quo is the current standard of the most popular way of doing, thinking and feeling, then I’m up for burning it. It is the root of all evil. Assimilation to the status quo is easy because we want to fit in. We’re wired to think that if most people believe something, it must be right, or if most people do something, it must be the best way of doing it.

A friend refers to those stuck in the status quo as ‘sheople’ (half people, half sheep), as they endlessly re-live Groundhog Day in the hope of either winning the lottery or someone knocking on their door to change their life. It’s not happening. Ronald Reagan once summed it up by saying ‘Status quo, you know, is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in’’.

Too much time spent chasing or living in the status quo results in a fixed mindset where, because of our conditioning, we can’t recognise that there are many pathways to success outside of traditional thinking. The problem is the enormous amount of people who want things to stay the same. The status quo wouldn’t be the status quo if most people didn’t support it.

According to the website refinethemind.com, there are three harmful status quo mentalities, any of which will see you wishing you were somewhere else, doing something else with someone else:

1. If someone is challenging your viewpoint, they’re wrong and you should react in a hostile manner

This comes from the mistaken thought that there is a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way of doing things. It leads to a population unwilling to revise their views on just about anything. The hostility is built out of fear – fear of new things and of change. The strategy to overcome this is to listen and open up the possibilities for yourself. What has the other side got to say – and are you listening to them, or just hearing them with your own viewpoint still front-of-mind? Hearing is a sense, but listening is a skill. Better listeners will have more chance of seeing other paths to success.

2. You should do something that you don’t enjoy now in order to do what you do enjoy later

It’s how we’ve operated for the last 150 years – get the job, work for 40 years so you can retire and do what you want. It results in people working in jobs they hate (71 per cent of people according to Forbes magazine, 2011). It starts with students majoring in ‘safe’ subjects they despise at school because they think that’s what is expected by society or their parents. Long term, we see people clinging to routines, leaving them depressed and angry because they’re afraid to do something new. Don’t wait. If you like or want to do something now, just do it. There won’t be any magic sign or perfect time. The time is now.

3. If someone doesn’t conform to what is ‘normal’, they’re weird or should be shunned

Most people put ‘normal’ on a pedestal, but what is it? It doesn’t exist, because as we know from the saying ‘the map is not the territory’, how we see the world is different for every single one of us. When ‘normal’ is the goal, anything that violates it becomes the enemy, and it’s a big part of the reason we see people hanging onto old ideas that lead to judgement, gossip and bullying. Try to appreciate that everyone is different, and just because they don’t conform to what you consider normal, doesn’t make them wrong. Maybe you have outdated views and might be equally abnormal to others? It’s swings and roundabouts.

The status quo mentalities are familiar to us all at some level. If they are the factors stopping you or your clients from moving forward, then you have to recognise that they exist and take positive steps to change them – now.


Greg Sellar is a performance coach and serial ‘life hacker’, challenging people to change the way they think and act. With a degree in Sports Science and a Diploma in Coaching, Mentoring and Leadership, he has worked with some of the biggest names in global fitness. gregsellar.com