by Elisabeth White | 2 Minute Read

What is a Powerful Mindset?

A Powerful Mindset empowers us to set and stay focused on intentions. It keeps us from making self-destructive decisions. A Powerful Mindset will not be derailed from an outcome or goal, despite inevitable struggles or obstacles.

Over the course of my coaching and consulting career, I have found that many of the difficult situations that my clients and mentees are working through are due to a lack of accountability or a powerless mindset: “There’s nothing I can do… It’s out of my control… Someone else will have to solve for this.” Without accountability, it becomes very difficult to stay focused on intentions and ultimately achieve goals. By utilizing the Accountability Ladder, we can shift away from a powerless mindset and build a powerful mindset that not only assists us with accountability but gives us the courage needed to work through many different types of difficult situations.

What is the Accountability Ladder?

Bruce Gordon, former President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), first described the “Accountability Ladder” as an eight-rung progression of accountability from a victim mentality (unaccountable person) leading upwards to an empowered mentality (accountable person).

The bottom four rungs depict a powerless approach to situations, decisions, and/or problems where resolution or a path forward seems impossible:

1. Lack of Awareness (Denial)

Example: “As a powerless person, I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about. Am I even involved? Does this even impact me? I don’t think I know anything about this situation.”

2. Blame

Example: “As a powerless person, this was the doing of someone else! I couldn’t possibly be at fault! I didn’t have enough information. Things were not clear.”

3. Excuses

Example: “As a powerless person, I can’t do anything, there’s no time, the circumstances are too difficult, I’m out of options, I don’t see a path forward.”

4. Wait… and Hope!

Example: “As a powerless person, there is nothing I can do; therefore, I’ll wait for someone or something to intervene. Maybe everything will be fine?”

Whereas the top four rungs depict a powerful approach to situations, decisions, and/or problems where resolution and a path forward is simply the only course of action:

5. Acknowledge Reality

Example: “As a powerful person, I was aware of the situation and could have already acted. I was aware but procrastinated. I could have spoken up, but chose not to.”

6. Ownership (Embrace It)

Example: “As a powerful person, I made a commitment and will deliver on it. I’m responsible in this situation. I can act.”

7. Find & Create Solutions

Example: “As a powerful person, I will seek out a solution. I will find help if I need it. There’s still time to find a path forward – it’s not too late!”

8. Make it Happen!

Example: “As a powerful person, I’m on it! I have the courage to act! I am working toward resolution. I am on a path forward.”

If a Powerful Mindset empowers us to set and stay focused on intentions, then we need to climb the ladder, one rung at a time, so that we can consistently find, create, and implement solutions. We need to make it happen! And we need to do so repeatedly, otherwise we’ll find ourselves derailed and powerless. We cannot deny, blame, excuse, or hope… We must acknowledge, own, find, create, and do! That mindset is indeed powerful!

I will close with powerful words from the powerful mindset of Sir. Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill: "Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it has been said, it is the quality which guarantees all others."