Walk a Mile in My Shoes: Understanding 6 Critical Mindsets

Learn how to identify which critical mindset enables you to effectively analyze the business situation.

AT some point in life, we’ve all heard the phrase “ …you must walk a mile in my shoes.” Although this is not a literal suggestion, obviously, it is a sound one that underscores the importance of understanding mindsets in business. When dealing with a business contact or situation, your goal is to understand his goal so that you can make smart decisions that will drive your success while further fostering healthy business relationships.walk a mile in my shoes-my shoes-shoesIt’s simple enough to ask a person about his wants and desires – What is it that you want? What are you hoping to achieve? However, people’s words and actions do not always line up – sometimes, because they simply don’t understand that they have changed direction or adopted new goals.

How do you unlock a person’s mindset? This does not require the sophisticated skills of a Sherlock Holmes. What is required is a framework that will help you analyze the situation or relationship. Human nature causes our desires to shift naturally when we are faced with new opportunities or circumstances, and as a result, business leaders often shift their goals frequently as events evolve, risks surface and fresh opportunities emerge. Therefore, you must listen carefully to that which drives the person you are dealing with.

Current priority mindset is the key to effective communication and plan alignment. Seek first to understand the point of view of the person you are working with, and he will surely reciprocate. The first step is to determine if the focus is internal or external, risk mitigation or risk acceptance and whether evolutionary or rapid change is needed.

If attention is on internal issues, risk reduction, and careful change, the mindset is occurring in the right hemisphere of the brain and includes: Developing, Performing and Protecting.

If attention is on external issues, risk to seize new opportunities, and fast change, the mindset is occurring in the left hemisphere of the brain and includes: Inventing, Catalyzing and Challenging.

To further your analysis, check the specific interest areas in the group by reviewing the signals that will narrow the selection to a specific mindset. The organizational mindset buckets, listed below and included in my newest book, Brilliant or Blunder: 6 Ways Leaders Navigate Uncertainty, Opportunity, and Complexity.

Use my tips to discover the mindsets influencing a business contact and you will pave the way to effective communication that will cement a stronger relationship.


Dr. Mary Lippitt
Dr. Mary Lippitt
Dr. Mary Lippitt is an award-winning author of "Brilliant or Blunder: 6 Ways Leaders Navigate Uncertainty, Opportunity, and Complexity.” She founded Enterprise Management Ltd. in 1984 to provide leaders with practical and effective solutions to navigate the modern business climate using situational mastery. Dr. Lippitt is a thought leader and speaker on executing change, optimal leadership, and situational analysis. She currently teaches in the MBA program at the University of South Florida. Mary is also the author of Situational Mindsets: Targeting What Matters When It Matters.

CHECK FOR TICKETS / JOIN OUR WAITING LIST! It's not a virtual event. It's not a conference. It's not a seminar, a meeting, or a symposium. It's not about attracting a big crowd. It's not about making a profit, but rather about making a real difference. LEARN MORE HERE



  1. Debra,

    The advice “Seek first to understand and then be understood” captures the need to start where the person is and then use that as a starting point for influence. In my experience people have a firm opinion until the consequences are examined, other alternatives are identified, and mutually satisfactory outcomes are explored. Our positions do change over time, experience and circumstances.

    Since Richard III body was just found, it reminds me of the Shakespeare line “my kingdom for a horse.” At that moment his past positions fell in light of being dismounted in battle. We must help people see how circumstances have or are changing to shift their mindsets. Either/or thinking will not work so we have to try other strategies.

  2. Mindset is an interesting topic. You’ve posed the question of unlocking someone’s mindset. I l like your thoughts on buckets too. I find in my work and life that you can’t change someone’s mind unless they are open to the concepts or idea.

    Have you also found this Mary?