I recently returned from a Mindset Retreat held in Orlando as part of my business growth strategy with 400 of my new best friends from across the globe. During an intensive three-day event, I learned new ways of thinking, affirmed existing mindsets and stretched my mind to future possibilities.
From nearly 30 hours of learning, sharing, masterminding and yes, dancing, I am filled with such gratitude and wonder. I’m now pondering how I can bring back the power and transformation to our clients to help them view their career, business and life a bit differently for greater prosperity and goal attainment.
You see, we all have our substantive expertise, often untapped gifts and talents, but how we perceive it can make all the difference in the world.
What is it, exactly?
Research shows that mindset is the way we think about our ability. The proverbial glass half full or half empty. It’s not the ‘what’ but the ‘how’ that matters.
Most individuals whom have achieved greatness, to borrow Shakespeare’s words, have worked extremely hard to arrive there. They believed that they could achieve and persisted until they did.
Growth vs Fixed Mindset
There are essentially two ways to perceive intelligence and ability:
- A fixed mindset informs that we are born with a certain level of ability that is ingrained and unchangeable. Examples: “This is just how I am”. “I’ve never been good at….” “I’m a really bad….”
- A growth mindset, on the other hand, informs that we can develop our ability through hard work, effort and accessing available resources.
Examples: “I may not know but I will find out”. “I’ve got this”. “I’ll figure it out”.
Two very different ways of thinking that will result in two very different outcomes.
These perceptions remind me of one of my favorite quotes from Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or cannot, you are right”.
We all have people in our lives who are Debbie or David Doubters, the glass half-empty thinkers. Quantum physics teaches us that what we think about, we bring about. The choice lies within all of us of how we think and perceive our lives, circumstances and future prosperity.
Neurologists find that individuals with these two mindsets actually think and respond to information differently. Specifically, they respond to information about performance differently.
- The brain of individuals with a fixed mindset is most active when they are given information about how well they have performed or done.
- The brain of individuals with a growth mindset is most active when they are told what they can do to improve.
The one approach focuses on performance while the growth mindset focuses on learning…judgement versus growth.
Is mindset a matter of choice
As research in neuroscience advances, understanding the brain and healthy brain development continues to evolve. According to a Harvard Medical School study, the human brain is 95% developed by age seven. Early childhood (ages one to 10) has proven to be critical for developing a healthy brain that has lifelong implications.
For better or worse, it is in these first seven years of our lives that many neuropaths (ways of thinking) are created. Some of us do not venture far from the initial messages we received from the adults/authorities in our lives at the time and, as a result, reached (and perhaps, stayed during) adulthood with the fixed thinking of our early years.
Interestingly, neuroscience shows that our brains continue to develop and change even as adults. Old dogs really can learn new tricks.
The brain is actually similar to plastic and may be reshaped over time, forming new neural pathways. These neural pathways are developed by doing or thinking particular things. The things that we do or say more often become hard-wired into our brains as habits. These form defined ‘routes’ in our brain, which become easier to use.
The exciting news, you see, is that you can change habits, if you choose. The first step is to realize that you need/want to, then train your brain in a new way of thinking, often via repetition and frequency.
Change = Growth
To learn or perhaps reverse years of a fixed mindset, one must recognize that a growth mindset is not just productive, but is also supported by science. In other words, to learn, evolve and develop, professionally and personally, you want to commit to developing a growth mindset.
- You can learn how to develop and improve your abilities through adopting a growth mindset. This will help you to take control of your life, which is immensely empowering. Research shows that people who feel in control tend to perform better. It’s a virtuous cycle.
- Be aware of your fixed mindset voice. When you hear that inner critic, self-doubting voice in your head telling you that you can’t do something, reply with a growth mindset approach and tell it that you can learn.
Below is a contrast of a fixed versus growth mindset. Do you see yourself here?
What does mindset have to do with growing a prosperous business, finding career fulfilment or more joy in living?
Mindsets are not just important for learning new skills. They can affect the way that we think about everything.
For example, a growth mindset can help you stay the course when embarking upon expanding your network and it is progressing slower than you would want. The growth mindset says, “I know I’m taking the right strategic steps to cultivate meaningful relationships that will one day bloom and prosper into new business”. Remember, “The day you plant to field is not the day you harvest it”.
Having a growth, versus a fixed, mindset will support the long-term nature of attracting new clients and strengthening relationships with existing clients. Alternatively, alternatively, adapting a growth mindset can provide individuals with the extra boost to combat disappointment or discouragement when your yearlong project is shot down or you were passed over this time for that coveted promotion.
It is not every day that our professional journey is a rosy walk in the park. Often it is fraught with unreasonable clients and supervisors, unrealistic deadlines and too much office politics. Developing a growth mindset can serve as an armor for staying focused on your long-term goals and aspirations despite short-term setbacks. And, allow your inner thoughts to relax and actually enjoy your work, regardless of the day-to-day headaches. In short, it is a choice and a discipline to be cultivated. When we believe, we will see.
Individuals with a fixed mindset, on the other hand, can become discouraged by setbacks, because a setback impacts their belief on their ability. They are likely to give up and thus create a self-defeating behavior pattern and self-fulling prophesy of their impending doom.
According to Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.and Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, those who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, sound strategies and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts). Discoveries such as this point to how those with a growth mindset worry less about looking smart and instead invest their energy into learning.
Cultivating a growth mindset could be the single most important thing you ever do to help you achieve success. Consider where you are in this discussion and whether there are thought patterns that you can address to fast track you to a more joyous, rewarding life and career. If we can support you along this journey, let’s connect.