Contextual mindsets


News from Nowhere


Different contexts require different mindsets. Different phases of one’s life & career require different mindsets. For example, to make most out of university it helps to both be ready to study hard, and to be open-minded to allow for serendipitous experiences. To get most out of an internship, hard work and networking might be the thing to go for. Running your own company means getting into a mindset that puts the company first, and most other things to revolve around the company’s needs. As a freelancer, always be closing, and meeting people.

As I’m in a transitional phase right now, having left my company and preparing for the next gig, I’m trying to get into a different mindset yet again: As I’m working out what shape and focus my next gig is going to have, it’s key to allow myself to zoom out and unfocus, to allow for serendipity. (Which, frankly, feels both weird and wonderful.) At the same time, I have client work as well, so that takes a more structured approach.

Finding this new balance I realized how much a mindset is a matter of habit. There’s currently no rational reason for me to be working online 10 hours a day. Yet, for years not working on clear, productive output equalled “not working”, or rather “not doing what needs to be done”. Time to ditch that temporarily! New context requires new mindset: For clearly defined bursts, work towards efficient output and deliverables. At other times, maximize chances for serendipitous inputs, inspirations, conversations. Then, re-focus and channel all of this into a new productivity.

It’s a good place to be in.


The image is a photo of a part of News From Nowhere, Moon Kyungwon’s and Jeon Joonho’s fantastic piece at dOCUMENTA(13)

If you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t blame others


This might be obvious to you, but during some recent conversations I noticed one thing over and over again: Freelancers, and entrepreneurs, don’t blame others.

If something bad happens to you and your impulse is to blame someone else (client! colleague! bank! landlord!) for the injustice, then maybe you shouldn’t work as an independent. It seems that to those with a more entrepreneurial mindset it never even occurs to blame others: Your client doesn’t pay you? Your fault if you ever work with them again. Your colleague steals your client? Your fault, shouldn’t have picked them. Not enough work due to recession? Oh boy, should you have hustled more.

I know I’m over-simplifying here – sometimes things don’t work out and it’s out of your hands. But in the reaction you can see who’s what kind of personality.

And just to be clear: I’m not saying one kind of mindset is better than the other. What I am saying is this: If you don’t naturally tend to taking responsibility for all the stuff happening to you, you might not become really happy as a freelancer or entrepreneur.

Of all the entrepreneurs and startup guys I talk to, I haven’t heard from a single one that things aren’t rosy because someone else did something. Instead, they go right at the problem.