Mindset is everything. I recently came across a wonderful book called Mindset  by Carol Dweck.  Carol is a social psychologist from Stanford University that has made it her career to study success and achievement.  Through her research she found that we have 2 mindsets—Fixed Mindset and the Growth Mindset

Here is what she says:

Fixed Mindset:

  • Your intelligence is something basic about you that you can’t change very much
  • You can lean new things but you can’t really change how intelligent you are
  • You are a certain kind of person and there is not much that can do to change that
  • You can do things differently, but the important part of who you are can’t really be changed. 

Here are others ways to look at the fixed mindset:

  • Constantly trying to prove yourself and sensitive about being wrong
  • Imperfections are shameful— you must hide your flaws, so that you are not judged by others or think that you are stupid / unintelligent
  • You are either naturally great, or you will never be great
  • You stick with what you know to keep your confidence
  • Failures define who you are
  • It is all about the outcome, if you fail, all your effort was wasted
  • I will never be able to do that and that is just the way it is.

The “fixed” mindset is the most common and the most harmful as it keeps us stuck. We do not learn new things and we are afraid of failure or feel like we have failed and can't move on. This can be toxic to our future and future opportunities. 

On the other hand, let’s take a look at the growth mindset.

Growth Mindset:

  • No matter how much intelligence you have, you can change it quite a bit
  • You can always substantially change how intelligent you are
  • No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change
  • You can always change basic things about the kind of person you are

Here are others ways to look at the growth mindset:

  • Based on a belief that your basic qualities can be cultivated and improved
  • People with the growth mindset don’t seek challenges they thrive on challenges. The bigger the challenge the more they can stretch, grow, and learn.
  • Anyone can be good at anything, because your abilities are entirely around your actions
  • Your flaws are just a “to-do” list to improve upon
  • You keep up your confidence by always pushing into the unfamiliar to make sure you are always learning
  • Failures are temporary set backs
  • Lasting relationships come with effort and working through inevitable differences
  • Look for ways to learn more if they do not know all the answers 

Growth Mindset Story:

Knowing about these 2 different mindsets are huge. Noticing these mindsets and actions in your own personal and professional life —“game- changer”.  Here is an example:

Recently, I was working with a client and he was extremely overwhelmed with everything that was on his plate. An employee had just quit, sales were down, finances were not looking good, the meetings that he had did not go well,  his two kids happen to be sick that week, and he felt like everything was going wrong. It was full survival mode and it felt like (in that moment) that everything was failing and falling apart. My client was in full crisis mode. 

I asked if we could just take a brief step out of all of the pressures, the stress, the frustrations of the day  (for just a moment). He agreed. I asked him what do you want for your organization, what do you love about what you have created?  

He began to name the things that he loved to do and why he started the organization. He began to talk about the ideas that he had for where he wanted to take the organization and what he hoped for in the future. 

As he was talking, I began to notice a physical change in his body language.  Physically it was a complete transformation, his eyes lit up talking about the different possibilities that he wanted to create, the tone of his voice was more energetic and had a lot of enthusiasm and vibrancy. He was using his hands to talk about his ideas and you could see his true passion for what he likes to do come alive. It was so awesome to see him talk about what he so deeply cared about.

In that moment he could see the vision of his organization and where it was going. The problems that we were just discussing moments ago had completely faded. When he looked at the possibilities and the vision for his organization he had entered into (unknowingly) the “growth-mindset” .

I asked him if he could approach the same passion and enthusiasm to the challenges he was just describing moments ago and he was completely taken off guard. How could you possibly tackle losing an employee, with gusto and enthusiasm?

I told him how I noticed the passion and drive when he was telling me about his vision and where he wants to take the organization and I asked him to approach the current challenges from a different perspective (growth-mindset) with this same energy and enthusiasm. Look at these challenges as "bumps in the road" to where you  ultimately want to be. You know exactly where you are going, so let's face these challenges head on with enthusiasm and passion to get to where you want to be.  He agreed with more enthusiasm than I was expecting!

Are you ready for a challenge?:

We have all gone through some very challenging times in our life, experienced some major sets backs, (perhaps a loss of a job, death of a loved one, etc.) perhaps launching a business, health issues, family issues, work-place dynamics etc. It is ok to feel sad and upset about all of this. In fact, mediation teaches us to welcome those feelings and emotions and to really feel them. However, it is important to notice your own mindsets when you encounter these difficulties. Are they weighing you down and holding you back or are your persevering through them?

Here is my challenge to you. When you encounter the next problem or challenge, just noticewhat mindset you are in—fixed or growth. Once you are aware of it, consider looking at the challenge from the growth mindset (that is, if you were not already there).