5 Keys to Practicing an Impact-focused Mindset

Some simple strategies to practice an Impact-focused Mindset:

  1. Develop your feelings and needs vocabulary. A Self-focused Mindset keeps us stuck in a blaming and justifying narrative. The more you can let go of the narrative and connect with underlying feelings and needs, the more impact-focused you can be.
  2. When you see someone doing something that doesn’t make sense to you, ask yourself: what should the world look like for them to do what they did? Remember, mindset drives behavior- how we see affects what we see. This, in turn, informs what range of choices we have available.
  3. Apply the Impact-focused Mindset Pattern, SAM, regularly with people you live and work with: See People (what are their needs, objectives and challenges?). Adjust Actions (What can I do to make things easier for them?). Measure Impact (How do I hold myself accountable?) (The Arbinger Institute, 2016).
  4. Whenever you experience something unpleasant within you, this could be a bodily sensation and/or a feeling, ask yourself: Could I be in the BOX right now? How could my BOX be obscuring the truth about myself and the other person?
  5. Connection before correction. Help the other person feel heard and understood before rushing to offer your two cents.

Like the Arbinger Institute says, real helpfulness can’t be made into a formula. Operating from an Impact-focused Mindset is a journey, not a destination. There will be challenges. The question isn’t whether or not we will face challenges when operating with an Impact-focused Mindset (The Arbinger Institute, 2010). The real question is, after having learned about the Self-focused Mindset and Impact-focused Mindset, which one will we choose when faced with a challenge?


The Arbinger Institute. (2010). Leadership and self-deception: Getting out of the box (2nd ed.). Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

The Arbinger Institute. (2016). The outward mindset: Seeing beyond ourselves (1st ed.). Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.


Sagar Satyal

Sagar Satyal is co-founder at My Emotions Matter and can be reached at [email protected].