Mark Panciera shares how a mindset reset Can propel you to future success.
By Melanie D.G. Kaplan
When Mark Panciera was a child, he lived above his family’s funeral home in Hollywood, Florida, and assisted his father and grandfather in helping others.
“It was a caregiving culture and environment,” Panciera said. “We were surrounded by bereavement and sadness, but there was always hope.” When Panciera became a husband and father, he moved back to the living quarters above the funeral home, following in the footsteps of the two generations before him. He worked to make his business one of beauty, not one of despair. “Rather than focusing on death in my funeral home,” he said, “I celebrated life.”
In 2008, realizing he wanted to share this approach to living beyond the walls of his funeral home, Panciera set out to become a caregiver to the world. He dove into cognitive science, polished his public-speaking skills and began his journey with The Pacific Institute as an independent consultant. Soon after, Panciera handed the operation of the family business over to his wife and son. Today, as the CEO of The Pacific Institute, he often recalls his work as an undertaker. He has countless memories of helping someone at the worst time of their life and seeing that person respond with tears of happiness and joy. He likes to say he makes his living selling hope.
“People talk about their higher purpose or North Star,” Panciera said. “Mine is giving people the tools to achieve lasting changes that are intentional, repeatable and scalable.” Through The Pacific Institute’s science-backed programs, Panciera helps people figure out how self-imposed, limiting beliefs prevent full success. He provides leaders with the tools to discover what they’re missing in their lives, recast their attitudes, stretch outside their comfort zones and tap into their best selves.
Panciera aims to reach 2 billion people around the globe by 2030, and in stretching for that goal, he’s had to think about what he was missing in his own life. He created what he calls a “replacement picture,” and he realized he could only aspire to go global if he had influence and authority. “How do you do that? With a microphone on a respected platform,” he said. In 2019, he gave a TEDx talk called, “Breathing Life Into People: The View from an Undertaker’s Chair.” In the presentation, Panciera explained that the ingredients to grief recovery are the same as those for business success, organizational development and personal mastery. “Mindset matters,” he said. He told audience members that 70–80% of our thoughts are negative, and if we don’t make an effort to control those negative thoughts, they will start to control us.
“Everyone’s looking for a behavior change, and that requires a mindset reset,” he said. But where to begin? Panciera encourages people to think about the picture they created at the start of 2021 and recalibrate, if necessary, to finish the year strong. “How is that picture working out for you?” he asked. “Do you have the right energy? Are you on the right track for growing your business? How are your family and community connections? Are you celebrating your successes?”
Subconsciously, Panciera said, we tend to move toward the things on our minds. “Think about what you’re thinking about. Think about what you want now. By mentally painting a vivid picture of success, you move toward success.” Since we all think in pictures, he noted, workplace leaders need to paint pictures to show their team members what success looks like as well, so everyone sees that same picture.
Now that 2021 is half over, Panciera said it’s a good time to assess the level of ingenuity in your work. When it comes to innovative pursuits, he asks himself three things: whether it serves a higher purpose, whether it serves his personal aim and whether the effort makes a difference. “When you have those three elements satisfied, it’s like when athletes are ‘in the zone,’” he said. “It’ll create a vortex toward innovation and achievement.”
Panciera works with a wide range of individuals, including Fortune 1000 executives, low-income children, college athletes and Navy Seals. They all have more in common than you’d think, he noted. “We all have the power to make decisions, we all share hopeful desires, we all want to be happy and we all want to be positively impactful on others,” he said. “Whether it’s a locker room or a board room, it comes down to the same simple elements that are in our human nature. We want meaning, feeling connected, collegiality with others, happiness and joy.”
The Daily Grind’s Mindset Reset
To kick off 2021, Mark Panciera joined a small panel led by Connex CEO Bill Yanek focusing on a Mindset Reset for the new year. “The Daily Grind” livestream series addressed resolutions for 2021, the importance of celebrating success and tips for aligning teams and challenging legacy thinking.
“I was honored to be asked and humbled to offer support,” said Panciera, who now considers himself part of the Connex extended family. “These are front-line folks who are serving a huge part of our country.” While the content was aimed at helping people confront a new year during a pandemic, he said, it’s helpful to review the basics anytime. “That Mindset Reset should be replayed the first week of every new year, not just during these unprecedented times.”