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Life Smarts fall under two categories in their outward expression:

Mindsets and Skillsets

Mindsets refers to the sets of beliefs (and their accompanying thoughts and emotions) that shape how you navigate and make sense of the world, and your place and identity within it. It influences how you think, choose, act, communicate, and behave in any given situation, interaction, or moment, and play a key role in how you handle whatever comes your way in life. Most people are shaped by the environments they grew up in and the attitudes, biases, beliefs, likes and dislikes, etc. they adopted within them, which may often go unquestioned as they grow older. However, this does not mean you are stuck with them - even though changing your mindsets may make people who expect you to behave the way they want you to may feel threatened. The deep human need to belong is often an obstacle when this happens, and can prompt considerable inner conflict. We all have the ability to change our mindsets and start anew, and should not be automatically held to who we were, what we believed, and the mistakes we've made in the past that were based upon incorrect information, unwise choices, and/or the undue influences from others.

Each of us has the power to change our Mindsets, which in turn, changes our behavior. One of the biggest realizations students express to me when they begin to be proactive with Mindset shifts is: “I realized I don’t have to believe everything I think." Each of us can always choose differently. But sustainable human learning, development, and growth must also include unlearning unproductive and harmful behavioral habits, thinking, and believing - and that doesn't happen instantaneously. 


Mindsets also have a strong influence upon the effectiveness of learning and embodying the Skillsets we choose to learn compared to those we have  to learn. They also impact your attitudes about learning particular skillsets and any self-limiting or self-sabotaging beliefs that can thwart your success in acquiring the knowledge contained in any Skillsets course or training. A famous quote from the late Henry Ford**(see below), “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right,” emphasizes how much attitude determines our learning success or failure. This attitude, brought into learning, development and growth by Carol Dweck, PhD, has been widely studied and taught as a determining factor as to whether we have what she calls a Growth Mindset (open to new knowledge, adaptable, resilient, and being willing to change how we see ourselves and the world) or a Fixed Mindset (rigid, close-minded, wanting to cling to the known, and believing that what we are stuck with what are born with). Her position is that Mindsets are a choice we make - and that choice determines our success in many areas of life. She applies this not only to individuals, but organizational, team, and group cultures.

Skillsets are the knowledge, abilities, and experiences required to proficiently perform a job or task.  

  • Hard Skills: Hard/technical/task-oriented skills are aptitudes you possess from your educational background, vocational trainings and work experience. They often refer to your ability to use particular types of tools or equipment, anywhere from computers, to hair styling, to truck driving, to surgery, to landscaping, to playing a musical instrument, to operating heavy machinery. Low Touch learning delivery formats often work well here.

  • Soft Skills: So-called "soft skills" illustrate how you interact with others and solve non-technical problems, both personally and professionally. They are often much harder  to acquire for many than hard/technical skills and require High Touch learning facilitation.

  • Transferable skills: Your transferable skills are versatile, meaning you can use them in any professional role. Although you may practice them for different reasons, they essentially have the same definition.

  • Job-specific skills: Employers may require specific abilities applicable to the position, which can be soft, hard or transferable skills. For example, if you want to work as a customer service representative, then the job-specific skills may be customer service, conflict resolution, interpersonal communication etc. Hard skills can include computer programming, vehicle mechanics, etc.

Mindset Examples

Besides the above-mentioned Growth and Fixed Mindsets, this list includes these pairs:
• Scarcity - Abundance

• Negative - Positive

• Pessimistic - Optimistic

• Win-Lose - Win-Win

• Controlling - Liberating

• Risk Avoiding - Risk Taking

• Victim - Survivor

• Fear - Love

• Reactive - Responsive

• Compulsive - Patient

• Apathetic - Engaged

• Lazy - Productive

• Self Loathing - Confident

• Entitled - Grateful

• Judgmental - Compassionate

• Dismissive - Respectful

• Divisive - Inclusive

• Mindless - Mindful

• Devious - Honorable

Soft/Transferable/Job Skillset Examples

  • Written and verbal communication

  • Customer service

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Organization

  • Time management

  • Problem-solving

  • Collaboration

  • Account management

  • Client acquisition and retention

  • Team management

  • Project management

  • Active listening

  • Negotiation

  • Networking

  • Motivation

  • Public speaking

  • Emotional & Social intelligence

  • Leadership

  • Assessment skills

  • Learning and course design skills

  • Flexibility

  • Critical thinking

Mindsets and Skillsets are Learned Behavioral Habits

Everything we learn and the Mindsets and Skillsets we engage in regularly by extension are behavioral habits – and these can be both beneficial and harmful. It's a mistake to assume that a "positive" mindset is always beneficial. It is harmful and even "toxic" when it leads to a "magical thinking" "positive vibes only" mindset that is simply unrealistic.

For example: you can visualize winning a singing contest all you want and think you can "manifest" it simply by positive thinking. But if you can't sing proficiently (a technical skillset), you won't win! 

And even though we can change our mindsets, as I said above this cannot take place through any sort of rapid-fire e-learning program, single motivational lecture, or weekend intensive. Embedded and regularly reinforced patterns of thinking and believing (especially those that are tied to groupthink, a need to belong and/or merely survive) take time to untangle. I know this from experience by being a member of two different "spiritual" cults years ago and what it took to take back ownership of my own mind. I see the same problem occurring with people blindly believing falsehoods and conspiracy theories.


A great way to visualize the 90 - 95% of your subconscious mind is the image of an iceberg.

Aa an outgrowth of the above experience, I obtained certification in clinical hypnotherapy and focused on teaching about suggestibility and engaging in beneficial behavioral habit change by taking into consideration the impact of the subconscious mind upon our thoughts, choices, actions, and behaviors. What attracted me to this Skillsets education was not actually wanting to work as a hypnotherapist, but to better understand the mind-body relationship. The school I attended frames what we do as motivating and facilitating positive behavioral habit change. Their perspective came way before books like Thinking Fast and Slow, Nudge, Atomic Habits etc. were published and this discipline was not part of mainstream conversations around workplace trainings.


Hypnotherapy training introduced me to the now commonly-accepted knowledge that it is estimated that 90 - 95% percent of the mind is operating on a level that is not conscious, so do the math! I added to that education certification in mindful awareness life skills in part to learn how to proactively build both a lens and a bridge into working proactively with our subconscious mind and become consciously aware of when we begin operating on ingrained habitual self-sabotaging “autopilot” behavioral patterns. The course I have taught more than any other is how to become consciously aware of “mind traps” – the negative and harmful internal “self-talk” thoughts and cognitive distortions that people fall into unconsciously that chain them to fear and self-sabotaging behaviors – and how to override them.


Types of Mind Traps

One of the biggest takeaways I obtained from hypnotherapy education is the person whose thoughts and beliefs we are most suggestible to is ourselves – and that’s why it is so valuable to learn how to develop growth oriented, critical thinking, analysis, problem-solving and examination Mindsets and Skillsets and the Life Smarts to avoid scams, groupthink, foster healthy skepticism, and perhaps most importantly:

Own Your Own Mind ... or Someone or Something Else Will

**Important Note: As much as I love the quote I shared from Henry Ford, it would be irresponsible for me to not state that he was a horrifically anti-semitic individual who used his platform to spread lies and hatred regarding the Jewish people. This underscores precisely why I offer what I said above about the influences others have upon us, and the contagiousness of questionable (at best) belief systems when you don't question them. The deep human need to belong makes human beings vulnerable to the thinking and behavior of those with power and influence who have ill intent and know exactly how to manipulate and abuse that need for nefarious purposes. 

"In Mein Kampf
 (“My Struggle”), Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto, Henry Ford is the only American referred to favorably, where Hitler calls him the “only a single great man.” He continues, “Ford, [who], to [the Jews’] fury, still maintains full independence… [from] the controlling masters of the producers in a nation of one hundred and twenty millions.” - American Jewish Archives 

"...Ford, one of the wealthiest and most successful entrepreneurs in the world - and a major proponent of antisemitic conspiracy theories - gave legitimacy to some of these more virulent biases. He believed Jewish people had international control over unions, banks and the media, and that all were out to get him. In 1918, this paranoia motivated him to buy a struggling newspaper, the Dearborn Independent.

"Ford’s essays and booklets helped fuel antisemitism in the U.S. and abroad. Hitler was a fan of Ford’s antisemitic writing, mentioning the carmaker by name in his own 1925 anti-Jewish manifesto, Mein Kampf. In 1938, Germany awarded Ford the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the country’s highest medal for foreigners. Ford received the award for his 'humanitarian ideals' and devotion 'to the cause of peace, like [Germany’s] Führer and Chancellor has done,'" according to the proclamation Hitler signed.
 - "How American Icon Henry Ford Fostered Anti-Semitism",


Ford was neither a humanitarian or a proponent of peace.
Critical Thinking is one of the most vital Life Smarts Mindsets and 
Skillsets we can acquire.


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