Growth or Fixed Mindset?
Finding the right mindset
Whether we recognize it or not, our beliefs and concept of self, have a massive impact on how we behave as leaders; the way we deal with situations, the way we manage people, the extent to which we grasp opportunities and take risks. It’s surprising then that we don’t pay more attention to our mindset. Professor Carol Dweck of Stanford University has researched the concept of mindset extensively and through her work, she identified two different mindsets: Growth or Fixed Mindset. Understanding the difference between the two is insightful to leaders and can help change behaviour.
Those with a fixed mindset believe that we are either able to do something well, or we are not, depending on our nature – it’s just down to who we are – we are a natural at something or we are not. Having a fixed mindset can mean avoiding a challenge, overlooking useful feedback or feeling threatened by the success of anyone around us.
Having a growth mindset means believing we can be good at anything; it is down to the actions that we take, the skills that we seek to develop and practice. Individuals with a growth mindset are usually keen to learn, they love a challenge and are keen to learn from feedback. They see the success of those around them as a chance to learn and be inspired.
It seems to me that having a growth mindset is a much more positive place to be than having a fixed mindset and in the workplace, being one or the other makes a huge difference. Just think about how we experience being within an organisation today; there is constant change, the need to remain competitive, ever-changing trends and models of practice.
Having a positive growth mindset puts us in a healthier state of mind to embrace all of this, helps to keep our stress levels down and gives a greater chance of success. So it’s definitely worth working on moving from a fixed to a growth mindset … it can be done.
Accept and welcome criticism … then act on it
Expect and welcome criticism. Listening to ideas and feedback from others, then doing something about it improves what you do and how you do it, how you deal with a situation, how you behave – all of this leads to greater success.
Share your struggles with someone you trust
Finding someone you can trust to talk about the challenge can be really helpful, especially if they are willing to share their challenges with you as well. This way you learn that everyone is challenged by something, no matter how successful they are. Talking it through not only gives you the chance to get ideas from others but it often helps you realise the answer to your own questions and recognise the way forward in addressing a challenging situation.
Question your own efforts
Questioning is a key aspect of developing a growth mindset. Reflect on the way you approached a situation or an experience you have had, reflect on a working practice or perhaps a task you have always done the same way and question: Could this be done a better way? How could I improve on this? How could I have dealt better with that situation? The next important step is then to act on the answer to these questions so that you see change and improvement.
Learn from your mistakes
If we don’t make mistakes we don’t learn and grow. Rather than beating yourself up about getting it wrong, reflect on the situation and go back to asking those questions about what you would do differently next time, how you could improve in the future. Determine whether you are coming from a growth or fixed mindset.
Check that internal dialogue
The self-talk that goes on in your head has a significant effect on how you see the world so keep a check on it. Self-talk within a fixed mindset might mean telling yourself to avoid failure or protect against it or telling yourself something would be really easy if only you were talented enough. Recognise that internal dialogue and talk back to it, telling yourself that if you get it wrong it’s a chance to learn.
Remember you have a choice about whether you view the world with a growth or fixed mindset and the actions you take will make all the difference.