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Four Common Mental Mistakes That Trip Managers Up

This article was based on episode 248 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Members of the Modern Manager community get two months of Fast Forward membership for free. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.

Mindset is everything when it comes to management. That’s why it’s critical to be aware of toxic ways of thinking that trip up even the best of us. Achieving our goals and fostering a strong team environment is often not about working harder, but changing our perspective. Dre Baldwin joins me to share four of the most common mental errors we make when we’re striving for success.

Dre is CEO and Founder of Work On Your Game Inc. He had a nine year professional basketball career that included playing in eight countries. Now, after authoring thirty three books, Dre teaches about professional mindset, strategy, systems, and execution. He shares here the secrets to moving forward by letting go of unhelpful ways of thinking that unconsciously hold us back.


You would never invest your time or money to sit through a bad movie more than once. Yet we do that with our brains all the time! We get ourselves worked up by replaying negative memories, ideas, and worries in our head. When we do this often, it becomes a habit for our brains to think in this way. Besides putting us in an anxious mood, negative movie-playing robs us of the energy of the present moment. And rewatching mistakes in our minds makes us more likely to make them again, not less.

You don’t have to ignore negative memories or thoughts, especially because we can learn from them. Acknowledge the movie and what you can take from it, and then make a conscious choice to move on, so that you don’t get stuck in a downward spiral.


As you gain experience and advance in your career, it’s normal to feel like you’ve moved past the need to focus on the basics. Yet, as work challenges become more complex, we tend to slip because we’ve forgotten the fundamentals, or worse, never took the time to learn them to begin with. Make sure to cover the basics and normalize the process of regularly going back to them. This may look like reviewing email protocols for healthy communication or regrounding the team in a larger work process.

Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden taught his team how to put on socks and shoes, to ensure they didn’t get blisters. Likewise, don’t assume that people on your team know things. Make sure to cover even the most basic principles before moving on to more complex issues.


When we’re trying to reach a goal, we have to ask ourselves three questions:

  1. What do I want?

  2. What do I have to do to reach that goal?

  3. Who do I need to be?

We so often forget to consider the type of person we need to be to achieve a goal. Instead, we believe that if only we work harder or smarter, we will succeed. But actions are not enough. The mindset, energy and spirit that we bring to our work impacts our actions more than you might realize. Using a different energy can produce dramatically different results. For example, most communication is nonverbal. This is why a person who says something with confidence is received so differently. It’s not what we say or what we do but how.

As you plot your goals and action steps, remember to consider how you can shift your inner state in order to put you in the best position to succeed.


You know the saying, “It's nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice”? Dre thinks we got this one all wrong. Niceness and importance don’t have to be diametrically opposed. Importance is about having a profound impact on others. To be important is to make a change in a community or cause you care about. And what manager doesn’t want that?

But we can’t make that same impact on our teams if we’re worried about pleasing everyone all the time. Being nice and being important is about having those hard conversations, giving and receiving feedback, and holding our teammates accountable. By looking for the overlap between nice and important, we’re able to show we care while also helping everyone succeed.

Remember that you are the example for your teammates for how to approach success in a healthier way. Model approaching goals from a healthy place of inner strength. Don’t invest any more time in replaying bad movies. Return to the basics. Focus on what energy you’re bringing to the table. And remember that being nice and important is about doing the hard things that make the biggest impact. As you change your own behaviors, see how your approach changes your teammates’ as well. Keep open the doors for honest communication. Give them space to own their mistakes. Learning how to get out of our own way can be the best way to move everyone ahead.


Get a chance to win one copy of Dre’s book, Work On Your Game, when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at

This article was based on episode 225 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.


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