What if I told you there is something you can do, that could improve your life and business exponentially, almost instantly? (With a little practice)
Something so powerful that every Guru, Mentor and icon you look up to and respect, uses it in every element of their success.
A skill that once truly mastered, it will not only improve your mental wellbeing, dramatically, but have knock on effects in your business, life, career and relationships, if you let it.
Would you want to know what it was?
Well I'll stop dragging it out!
The key, is mindset.
Growth Mindset to be specific.
First documented by psychologist Carole Dweck almost 30 years ago (1988), when studying the predictors of high performance in her students, Growth Mindset is in essence, the idea that we can grow and learn.
First documented by psychologist Carole Dweck almost 30 years ago (1988), when studing the predictors of high performance in her students, Growth Mindset is in essence, the idea that we can grow and learn.
Dr Dweck discovered that if a student's focus was on their performance they were more likely to fear failure and challenge. But, if the student's focus was on learning, then failures and challenges seemed to encourage them and the student was more likely to achieve their full potential.
The discovery was revolutionary and changed the way we view and understand the human brain significantly.
Until recently, scientists believed that our brains grew to a certain point and then simply ceased to duplicate or grow new neurons. But recent advances in neurosciences confirm the opposite. Not only do our brains continue to grow our whole lives, but that we can actively change the pathways in them. We can literally re-wire our brains to think feel and react differently. This is known as neuroplasticity.
Carole Dweck’s work describes two primary mindsets, Fixed and Growth with a mixed mindset to describe the process of switching from one to the other.
So what are they?
Essentially a fixed mindset is the belief that you cannot improve. Things are the way they are and there is nothing you can do. It’s in your DNA, your age, your experience. There is no changing you.
A growth mindset is the belief that our basic abilities can be developed and improved through dedication and hard work. It is the belief that with effort, time and resourcefulness all things can be learned, overcome or worked around.
Fixed Mindset. Growth Mindset.
Intelligence is fixed Intelligence is fluid
Avoids Challenges. Embraces challenges – learns from them
Gives up Easily Keeps trying
Critical of Self Critiques self to learn
Criticism is personal Encourages feedback
Resents other Success Inspired by others success
Critical of others Encourages and support others
For example if you are learning something new you can identify your mindset by listening to your thoughts on it.
I can’t learn this. I’m useless. Everyone else is better than me. I keep getting it wrong. There’s no point. I look stupid.
This is new. What am I missing? That was better than last time. What can I learn from people who are finding this easier? I’m learning a lot. Let’s keep practicing. This is fun!
If you still aren’t sure which mindset you are currently in you can take the mindset quiz here.
So, if our mindset predicts our behaviours and thus our learning and performance, how do we switch from a fixed to a growth mindset?
Leaders/ Parents/ Teachers:
Stop praising achievement! This creates a bar, a standard to live up to. It can make the person you are praising fear not maintaining the standard and can make others fear they will never achieve the same standard.
Instead, praise the behaviour of the student. Praise hard work, persistence and attitude. If they are struggling yet keep going praise their determination. If they are a natural, and yet help others when they are struggling, praise the empathy and encouragement they are giving and leading. It takes courage and character to do this.
This works particularly well to bring harmony, trust and creative solution finding in your teams. By praising the hard work and attitude of an individual the whole team will feel more encouraged to go out of their comfort zone.
By teaching that mistakes are part of learning and if caught early are 'OK' (and yes I know it depends on the mistake in business, but how a mistake is handled regardless of scale is key in maintaining morale, trust, and unity in any team), we are more likely to be innovative and offer new ideas.
Fixed mindset praise:
Congratulations on hitting this month's target! Keep it up. That's what we like to see.
Growth Mindset praise:
Congratulations, your hard work is paying off. Your results have consistently improved and I've noticed that you are helping the rest of the team develop too. That's a great attitude! Keep it up!
It’s really a matter of practice and I’m going to admit now that whilst the concepts are simple enough, putting them into practice is far more difficult. But keep going and don’t let the slip ups stop you. That’s step one!
Here are a few steps to adopting a growth mindset;
1. Embrace the imperfections.
Repeat after me, I am not supposed to be perfect. Not after practice, let alone on the first try! If you were perfect the first time, every time, there would be nothing to learn and business and life would never change. Allow yourself to enjoy, even seek out your mistakes. That is where the learning is. That is where the play and the growth is.
2. Know your WHY
Dr. Dwecks research showed if you know the WHY behind your goals, the purpose, you are more likely to adopt a growth mindset naturally.
This requires some reflection and the ability to dig into what the goal will give you. how the goal will give you the desired outcome and what other routes you can take to get here.
Be prepared to be honest with yourself.
If the goal doesn't have a clear WHY, then you may need to set a different goal.
Leaders, when setting goals/ targets for your teams this means aligning them to both the bigger picture of the business and it's values, as well as to the individual's values and goals. Without connecting the dots the target or goal is arbitrary and your team can't give their all.
3. Love the journey not the destination
I know, but really! Enjoy the process of learning. It will be boring when there is nothing left to learn. If you enjoy learning and discovering new ideas, processes or skills, results and creativity will be a natural side effect.
Leaders, this means looking at how an individual has performed over time, not just the last few months. It means getting both short and long term goals and preparing them for the next step in their careers.
It also means you should be constantly learning and open to new ideas where ever possible. Make sure you have mentors and a learning path as well as your team.
4. Change your internal language.
Notice your internal monologue, and listen to the language you are using with yourself. If it is not kind, change it. Imagine you are encouraging a loved one or friend. Be kind to yourself, encourage yourself.
5. Add a ‘YET’
If you are struggling to change your internal language and do the above, add the word ‘yet’ to your internal monologue. Instead of “I can’t do this.” Say “I can’t do this yet.” It allows you to keep going.
6. Accept and encourage feedback
Seek feedback and most importantly, don’t use it to beat yourself up! Use it to improve, learn and focus on key areas to work on.
Leaders, when giving feedback, focus on how the individual cand develop their weaknesses and where their strengths can provide support for their learning. Help your team see how to flex their style, identify areas of relevant learning and encourage them to try new things. It means letting them be imperfect, particularly when you know you can do better.
Don't micromanage, mentor, support and allow your team to grow, it will make you grow too.
7. Celebrate success of others
Celebrating the success of others and acknowledging the work they have taken to get there is important. It helps us realise that we are only ever in competition with ourselves.
No one else.
Someone else’s success is not detrimental to you. Their success shows you can do it too, there is more to learn and they may even be the one to help you do it.
Leaders, take the score board down and change it. Mark improvement rather than results.
Of course, hitting targets is important, it keeps the business going. But if you encourage growth, if the only competition is how much you can improve, your team will become more cohesive, higher performing and will and drive innovation.
It takes time to adapt to this way of thinking and praising, but it is the best way to continued growth and development.
8. Celebrate Learning!
Acknowledge how far you have come and the work you have put in to get here. All too often we achieve a milestone and the celebration and sense of achievement is short-lived.
But if we acknowledge where we were yesterday and what we have experienced to get to today we can see all of the learnings and growth we have gained.
This reflective practice is essential to be at your best and limit the plateaus you hit.
9. Accept it is ok to be where you are at now and still have goals.
Too often we believe if we accept how we are now, then we will not improve. A fixed mindset means we criticise ourselves horrendously.
It doesn’t help.
You need to accept where you are at. Embrace it, love it. And know that loving you right here right now, will help you develop into who/ how you want to be.
And remember, we all slip up. But when you notice you or a member of your team has
shifted to a mixed or even fixed mindset, don’t stay stuck and beat yourself up, don't reprimand them. Instead, remember you/ they can and will change it and if we help each other, we will grow faster.
By Natalie Lockyer