My wish for you this holiday season is Leader Development in all facets of your life. Here are my thoughts, favorite messages and key learnings on the opportunities presented on Growth Mindset, from author Carol Dweck, based on her book: Mindset-The New Psychology of Success.
Rethinking Psychology of Success:
As I engage in life and work, I endeavor to continue learning new aspects of human development and its contribution to improving the dynamics of leaders and teams. As I approached the Mindset book by Carol Dweck, I felt pretty good about the terms “Fixed Mindset” and “Growth Mindset”. Sure, sure I told myself, I am thriving in a Growth Mindset. Then the questions appeared that those with a Fixed Mindset are often concerned about: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel a winner or loser? It was at that point I realized a large part of my own Mindset was based on a reaction to these questions. This creates a barrier to developing my potential by going ahead, free of the boundaries and self-talk that these kinds of questions set up.
Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck’s book offers an opportunity to make a conscious choice about our Mindset.
- Why brains and talent alone do not bring success. Actually to be clear it explains how brains and talent can actually stand in the way of it.
- Why praising brains and talent has a negative correlation to learning/high performance.
- How teaching a profoundly simple idea about the brain raises accomplishment and self-regard.
Through more than 3 decades of systematic research, the key that Dweck found isn’t ability; it is whether or not you look at ability as something innate that needs to be demonstrated or as something that can be developed. Dweck has shown that people can learn to adopt the latter belief and make dramatic strides in performance.
Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset
A Fixed Mindset is based on the belief that we are born with certain talents, gifts and strengths and that once developed, pretty much define us. As a result, we seek to be validated by external feedback and seek approval. Coming from this Fixed Mindset is very limiting in that it reduces our options to learn by experiment, spontaneity and risk. I know that in being truly honest with myself, I often make choices based on the “tried and true.” Choices that may eliminate the risk but also may prevent new learning that may eventually result in much greater reward. I am surprised to learn that I have this invisible partner which in many ways limits my choices and options.
The choice to consciously interrupt the pattern and engage a Growth Mindset increases my choices and options. The Growth Mindset is based on the premise that the qualities, talents and propensities that you develop early on and become comfortable with are only the starting place. They provide the stimulation for you to grow and learn in completely different directions through hard work, dedication and risk. This results in a more rounded person who is going in the direction of maximizing and not limiting their potential. The rather simple yet profound concept taught in the book presents both mindsets.
Dweck writes “For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”
Today’s leaders in companies and organizations have learned the value of the Growth Mindset in their leader development work. They recognize, in a constantly changing world, predictability and order are often replaced by the demands of complexity/ambiguity. A Growth Mindset is required to be agile and effective. Kathleen Hogan the New Corporate Vice President of Human Resources at Microsoft talks about this in an interview with GeekWire: Microsoft HR Chief on the company’s changing culture and new “Growth Mindset.” Hogan reiterates Satya Nadella’s thinking the Microsoft needs to become a Growth Mindset Culture and how they are approaching it.
Some questions to expand your thinking about Fixed or Growth Mindset: (Excerpted from Carol Dweck’s book pages 80,142)
- Think about your hero. Do you think of this person as someone with extraordinary abilities who achieved with little effort…just a natural? Now find out the truth. Find the tremendous effort that went into their accomplishments and learn what it really took.
- Think of when other people outdid you and you just assumed they were smarter or more talented. Now consider the idea that they just used better strategies, taught themselves more, practiced harder, and worked their way through obstacles. It’s your choice.
- Are there situations where you feel stupid- where you disengage your intelligence to ponder the thought of your lack of intelligence? Next time you’re in one of those times, think of the Growth Mindset. Think about learning and improvement, not judging your self-and hook your intelligence back up.
- Do you label your kids? This one is the artist and that one is the scientist. Next time remember you are not helping them. Dweck’s exhaustive research demonstrates praising kid’s ability actually lowered their Intelligence Quotient. Find a Growth Mindset way to compliment them.
- Are you in a Fixed Mindset or Growth Mindset workplace? Do you feel people are just judging you or are they helping you develop? Maybe you could try and make it a more Growth Mindset place, starting with yourself. Are there ways you could be less defensive about your mistakes? Could you profit more from the feedback you get? Are there ways you could create more learning experiences for yourself?
“Unfortunately people often like the things that work against their growth. People like to use their strengths. They like to achieve quick, dramatic results, even if they aren’t developing new skills they will need later on. People like to believe they are as good as everyone says and not take their weaknesses seriously as they might. People don’t like to hear bad news or get criticism.
There is tremendous risk …in leaving what one does well to attempt to master something new.” Morgan McCall; High Flyer
My wish (and challenge) for you this holiday season is that you consider opportunities you may have to focus on and incorporate growth mindset into your workplace and your own perspective. If you are open to sharing, I look forward to hearing about the impact this makes for you as a leader in the year ahead.
Wishing you a happy fall,