Your Mental Operating System Is a Choice

By Ann Elliott

  Your mental operating system may be the most important predictor of your results. If fear, for example, directs your actions, your results will be different from your results if respect directs your actions….in the same situation. In your computer, the operating system is the interface between your hardware and software.  Your operating system, which determines how your computer works, is essential.  Without it, your computer is useless. crossroads Today many people operate from fear.    I encountered this situation.  Robert, the director of a division in a large company, that has been repeatedly reducing its work force is pressuring Barbara, one of his supervisors, to complete an impossible number of projects in an unrealistically short time.  Robert is afraid his division will lose money.  Barbara is afraid she will lose her job.  People throughout the company are on edge and uncertain about their future. The problem is that you are frequently unaware of your mental operating system. You boot up every morning and jump into the activities of the day.  It is business as usual without any thought to your operating system.  Are Robert and Barbara aware of their mental operating system?  (Not their real names.) Without even realizing it, you can be undermining the important goals in your life. Your mental operating system feels normal and justifiable to you.   You can explain why you are anxious or resentful.  Who would not be under the same circumstances?  In the case of Barbara, she is working six or seven days a week and staying up half the night to complete her assigned projects.  You can understand why she is afraid to say no, can’t you? Here is the good news. You have complete control of your mental operating system.  Choosing your mental operating system is as easy as flipping a switch.  The secret is knowing that you produce a different, more desirable outcome for you and those around you by simply flipping the switch from fear to respect, for example. Consider this.  How would your life, personally and professionally, be different if you changed your mental operating system?  Would your relationship with colleagues, customers, family and friends improve? Just for today, make this commitment: “Whatever I do today, I choose to do it with ______________, ___________________, and _______________.” Fill in the blank with one to three “instructions” for your unique operating system. If you want some help getting started, here are some suggestions:
  • respect
  • joy
  • curiosity
  • gratitude
  • love
  • humor
  • ease
  • dignity
  • wisdom
  • cooperation
  • wonder
Imagine what could happen if Barbara commits to an operating system like this:  “Whatever I choose to do today, I do with respect and honesty.”  She respects herself and Robert, her boss.  She is honest with herself and Robert about what she can realistically accomplish in a reasonable period. Have fun and experiment with different operating systems.  You can change your mental operating system at any time.  Why not flip the switch, expect a “miracle” and be willing to be amazed at what shows up? © 2010 Ann Elliott All Rights Reserved Feel free to share this article.  Reprint permission is granted to broadcast or reprint.  Please give proper credit to the author.  Include the following in its entirety. Ann Elliott is a leadership strategist and founder of The Berkana Company LLC.  She is the author of “What Successful Women Know about Leadership.”  As an experienced facilitator, trainer, and business consultant, she helps entrepreneurs and business owners build a thriving business from the inside out.  Ann speaks professionally at conferences, workshops and seminars.  To schedule her for your event, contact:  Contact Ann at


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Ann Elliott

Ann Elliott, founder of The Berkana Company, excels at leadership strategy

An expert at helping business leaders enjoy more profits and improved productivity with less stress, she blends fun and excitement with executive coaching and training to yield results for her clients.

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