Having a "growth mindset" is something of a buzzword at the moment and is often viewed as the key to resilience and overcoming obstacles to achieve your goals.
But what exactly is a "growth mindset"?
The fundamental premise of a growth mindset is the belief that you can substantially change what you are capable of - and even who you are - through learning and cultivating your abilities.
The biggest barrier to this is the self-limiting beliefs we have about our abilities and what we are capable of achieving, leading to a fixed mindset
And the most obvious sign of this is the language we use to talk about ourselves:
“I am no good with numbers”
“I am not very sporty”
Or about others:
“She can do that because she is XYZ…”
Instead of seeing a challenge as a temporary obstacle, we interpret it as a permanent state. And this ultimately acts as a blocker to getting where we want to be.
What is the story you tell yourself about yourself?
The next time you are faced with a decision or a challenge, it is worth pausing for a moment and listening to the words in your head. Are they filled with doubt and “what ifs”, coming up with excuses about why you should stay safe. Or do you hear the whispers of encouragement, telling you to give it a try, to learn as you go?
What if you dialled back from “I am no good with numbers”
and instead tried:
“I am struggling to make sense of this spreadsheet. Who can I learn from so that I can develop this skill?”
Your struggle with numbers is no longer an immovable object, but a temporary challenge that with practice and support can be changed.
Why is it so hard to think positively?
The difficulty with developing a growth mindset is that the times we most need it, are often when we are most vulnerable. And as human beings we have a "negativity bias", so we are primed to scan for threat. Which is great if you are running from a sabre tooth tiger, but less helpful when you want to go for a promotion!
But the great news is that it is absolutely something that can be developed with practice, so that we are able to access it when we most need it.
So how can you achieve a growth mindset?
The following is a simple exercise to help you focus on your strengths to help counter negative thoughts and build a growth mindset.
Write down 3 examples of times when you have overcome a challenge to achieve something that you are really proud of. Keep this somewhere accessible (eg your wallet or in your diary). The next time you are faced with a challenge such as an interview, meeting or difficult conversation, take out your list and repeat the three examples back to yourself out loud - and then jump!
It is amazing how challenging dialogue with evidence can stop the negativity in its tracks and allow you to move forward.
Give it a go - I would love to hear how you get on.
To find out more about how to conquer your or your team's self limiting beliefs to develop resilience, email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help!