Growing the Right Mindset
You’ve probably heard the terms “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset” before, but why is mindset such an important topic to begin with? Well, it’s because your mindset isn’t just your literal state of mind—it’s the lens through which you view everything! As a leader, you set the example on how to think beyond the reward or result of your actions. The process of achieving an outcome is just as crucial as the outcome itself, but it takes a strong and purposeful mindset to appreciate both the journey and the destination.
Let’s talk about what both of these mindset types are like, because I bet you’ll recognize them immediately:
A fixed mindset is thinking that the traits you have (such as intelligence, ability, and talent) are ingrained inside you and can’t be changed over time. You don’t see room for improvement in these qualities, because you believe that you either have them or you don’t.
A growth mindset, on the other hand, is understanding that your abilities can be developed through hard work, determination, and a strong work ethic. You believe that innate talent is just a starting point for you to grow, because anything is possible!
Looking at these two definitions, you can clearly see that the growth mindset is more beneficial, since it gives you the chance to nurture your strengths, develop your skills, and open yourself up to new opportunities. Psychological research, too, tells us that not only is a growth mindset healthier, you can put it into practice at any time in your life. That’s good news for anytime you feel yourself falling into a fixed mindset thinking—you have the power to change it, right then and there. For example:
Anytime you feel like giving up (a fixed mindset) you can remember to keep pushing forward and persist (a growth mindset)
When you notice a lack of self-confidence (a fixed mindset) you can remind yourself to stand up a little straighter, keep your chin up, and use your determination (a growth mindset)
If you sense that you’re avoiding a challenge (a fixed mindset) you can ask for help in order to face your worries head-on (a growth mindset)
One of the most prominent characteristics of a fixed mindset is the fear of failure. Of course it’s understandable that you don’t like to fail, and yet one of the most powerful ways you learn is by making mistakes and overcoming them. It’s important to think about failure as a pathway to success. So how do you do that effectively? You can try these four steps:
Change your attitude when you fail at something. Talk about what you learned instead of getting down on yourself.
Celebrate the learning process and use it to brainstorm how you will do better next time.
Take the “one stair” approach when tackling a goal: Take just one step at a time versus trying to climb the entire staircase. Many times when we look at the entire goal it is overwhelming and therefore we give up too easily. Take “one stair” at a time and before you know it, you will reach the top.
Use mindfulness to connect with your emotions and reflect on your experiences. This can help temper your fears and make failure feel as it should—just one more tool in your toolbelt!
When it comes to noticing your feelings and opening yourself up to both failure and growth, there is a specific method you can try when you need a little extra self-support. It’s called the RAIN Technique. This is how it works:
R - Recognize what is happening around you and how you are feeling
Example: “I am feeling scared and nervous.”
A - Allow life to be as it is; allow your thoughts to be present even if you don’t like the way they make you feel.
Example: “I am feeling scared and nervous. This makes me uncomfortable, but it’s OK that I feel this way.”
I - Investigate your feelings and why you think you’re feeling the way you do.
Example: “I am feeling scared and nervous. This makes me uncomfortable, but it’s OK that I feel this way. I am feeling this way because I don’t want to be embarrassed in front of my friends and I don’t want anyone to make fun of me.”
N - Non-identify yourself. Remember that you are not the emotion; you are feeling this emotion but you do not need to identify as that emotion. Emotions are temporary and evolving.
A growth mindset allows you to live your life to the fullest. By opening yourself up to new experiences, failures, lessons, and emotions, you are becoming the best version of yourself. You are living in your unique potential. Keep broadening your experiences by trying new activities, tasting new foods, volunteering for causes you care about, learning about other cultures and religions, and meeting new people. Be accepting and curious, and your mindset will allow you to soar!