Growth Mindset - what exactly is it?
World-renowned psychologist, Carol Dweck articulated the findings from her decades of research in success and achievement in her now-classic book, “Mindset: The new psychology for success”.
She described how powerful our mindset can be in terms of the success we have in all facets of our lives. Further, in differentiating between fixed and growth mindsets, she explained the potential that we each have available to us, by shifting to a growth mindset, to bring our own personal and professional success, improved relationships, better business results, and ultimately, happiness.
From her book,
The fixed mindset makes you concerned with how you'll be judged, the growth mindset makes you concerned with how you are learning.
An example to further illustrate the difference between fixed and growth mindsets can be found at the beginning of her book where she describes her experiences with middle-school children and their willingness (or not) to try more and more difficult puzzles.
Simplistically, the children with a fixed mindset (concerned with being judged), prefer to do the easier puzzles because it gives them a sense of satisfaction in their achievement as they are judged well for completing the puzzles; and the children with a growth mindset (concerned with learning), are more interested in continuing to do puzzles that are more and more difficult - in this case, it is in the learning that their sense of achievement and satisfaction is derived.
I was in a conversation with my 12-year-old stepson recently about whether to play chess or checkers and then later in the day, about trying a new sport. In one conversation he was decidedly displaying a growth mindset, and in the other, a fixed mindset was showing up.
I found myself contemplating how a growth mindset is a fluid concept. That is, as individuals, we are not intrinsically someone with a fixed or growth mindset, rather the mindset we show up with at any given moment is a product of a whole range of issues, many of which are indicators of our current level of wellness in body, mind, and spirit.
In a time many of us our languishing more often than we are thriving, getting ourselves into our growth mindset proves a little more difficult and all the more important.
Why is a Growth Mindset important?
By definition, the act of leadership is to be visionary, and inspiring, and looking for ways and methods for things to be better than they are now. Indeed, these are the activities of a growth mindset thinker. So as a leader, you are likely to be naturally in a growth mindset most of the time.
However, even the most 'growth mindset' focused of us can have moments or times when we fall into fixed mindset thinking.
During times of crisis, or uncertainty, your team will look to you, as their leader, to show them the way forward with optimism and enthusiasm. It is the stressors of those very same crises that can wreak havoc on you too, and make it difficult to maintain your usual growth mindset state.
It is important to notice these times with self-awareness and even to acknowledge them with your team. Demonstrating the right amount of vulnerability will help you to foster trust with your team.
But in the end, your impact as a leader will come from your ability to bring your grit, your resilience and show the people in your charge the hopeful way forward. And bringing these traits to your leadership practice in times of stress will be much easier when you are in a growth mindset.
Remember to be curious and ask questions so that you can learn and grow through the challenging times that you and your team will inevitably face. Not only will you be bringing your team along with transparency of your own vulnerability, and giving them a sense of hope and enthusiasm, you will also model for your team the learning approach that defines a growth mindset.
And by modelling this, you'll be helping them to move into their own growth mindset groove too. This will lead to greater successes for you and your team at work, as well as for each of your team members in their own lives.
Your leadership impact will soar! And you will reap the rewards that you hoped for by initially setting out on the leadership journey in the first place! To bring out the best in your people!
Get Your Growth Mindset Mojo Back!
If you need a boost for your growth mindset mojo, here are three areas to consider.
- Wellness Fundamentals
- Next Level Wellness
- Fixed Mindset Thinking Interrupters
You can follow along to learn more about each by clicking inside each of the tabs.
There isn't anything sexy about this one. And you know the drill!
Are you getting enough sleep? Eating right? Exercising? Getting outside in the sunshine?
It might not sound very exciting, but the truth is that getting these things right is the necessary foundation not only for your physical health but also, your mental health.
Your ability to move beyond 'meh' and into a growth mindset headspace will be strengthened after just 1 or 2 days of getting the basics right.
It's okay to have a glass of wine, or even two, in the evening, or an extra helping of mac and cheese occasionally, but if you are starting to overindulge on a regular basis, you simply won't be at your best.
Further, it may be a sign that you are trying to ignore a bigger problem.
If you really are struggling with any of these crucial items, please pause! Get some help with a loved one, friend, or coach. Your own health depends on it, and so too does your effectiveness as a leader.
Take stock and really be honest with yourself. Invest in a daily habit tracker to monitor your progress and celebrate your wins.
And if deep down you know you need to, please get some professional support.
Remember that you are not alone.
I am sure this post raised your awareness of how important a growth mindset is for you as a leader and gave you some ideas for maintaining your growth mindset thinking even in trying times.
Let me know what other ideas you have for rediscovering your growth mindset. I'd love to hear about both your fixed thinking moment interrupters and what your longer-term habits are that you've found helpful.
Supporting you on your leadership journey,