A Growth Mindset Will Get You Through
2020 has been a year full of swift change, which can put a lot of stress on businesses and the people that make them run. It's important to stay flexible during times of significant change.
That's easy to say. It's much harder to do when your to-do list is mounting, and uncertainty in the collective consciousness.
- When dealing with rapid change, do you feel optimistic or pessimistic?
- When confronted with feedback, do you beat yourself up, or do you take it as an opportunity to grow?
- Do you feel stuck, or do you feel like you're always growing?
Growth mindset -- a phrase we've all heard at some point. But what does it mean, and why is it useful? Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, who researched and developed the concept of a growth mindset, says:
"Growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts…everyone can change and grow through application and experience."
We used to believe that the brain's plasticity finalized by the time we were in our teens. But more recent research denounces that theory proving that with the application and hard work, you're never too old to learn a new skill or develop in any area of life. How thrilling!
One of the most effective ways to do this is by adjusting your mindset. We've all had a moment when we've wanted to pursue a new challenge either at work or for our personal growth. But something, usually fear, has stopped us from even trying. That is a 'fixed mindset.' Trying something new results in failure and embarrassment. Dweck has a different take, and describes 'failure:'
"... not as evidence of unintelligence, but as a heartening springboard for growth and stretching our existing abilities."
A growth mindset can help us to move past that mental barrier. People with a growth mindset have learned to see challenges as part of a process, failure as an opportunity to grow and learn. If you can operate from a growth mindset, your way more likely to go for that promotion at work or volunteer to learn a new skill, thus, enhancing your intelligence and career path.
How do you get a growth mindset? Here are five ideas about how to make the shift:
1. Strive to Fail
If we can retrain our minds to see a failure as a learning curve, then failing the next time won't be as daunting a prospect. 'Failure' benefited and taught us somehow, so it becomes a positive, not a negative.
2. Do it for You
Doing something purely for the sake of impressing someone else limits our growth and confidence. How far could you go if there was no one to tell you when to stop?
3. Be Your Cheerleader
Speaking out about our accomplishments instills a sense of ownership in ourselves and confidence in others about our ability. Acknowledging our progress is a powerful tool to keep us motivated towards our goal.
4. Swap the Word 'No' for 'Not Yet'
This swap is one of Dweck's favorite phrases. 'Not yet' implies to ourselves and others that we will reach our goal in due time. Our goal is a journey, not something we have to accomplish immediately. We are actively growing as we continue to progress.
5. Don't Hold Back
Take the fear out of failing by daring to pursue your goals boldly and publicly. Own problems when they arise. Showing that you care more about the process and less about saving face is very freeing; people also see you as authentic.
Nurturing a growth mindset is also an excellent skill to develop when leading others. Beware of the self-esteem trap of merely praising the effort if it does not yield results. This praise may seem kind but is inauthentic and more detrimental than helpful. It is better to honor the process, offer constructive advice on how to improve and lend support in a way that shows them how to solve their problem. Approaching it from a growth mindset leads to a much more genuine relationship and appreciation of their growth and skills.