Why developing a growth mindset is essential to achieving your career aspirations.
“In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I’m going to reveal my weakness, you say, wow, here’s a chance to grow.’ – Carol Dweck
Researcher and psychologist Carol Dweck’s ‘Mindset – The New Psychology of Success’ is one of our favourite books. Your mindset impacts all aspects of life; from parenting and education to business and leadership. Dweck uncovered very different results in her research; by praising the effort applied when facing a challenge you foster a growth mindset. Conversely praising innate talents can lead to a fixed mindset.
What is the difference between a fixed & growth mindset?
A fixed mindset. You believe your talents and abilities are innate and won’t change over time. People who rely on their previous achievements and success, tend to believe that there are things they can do and things they could never succeed at. A fixed mindset feels safe with the status quo; the risk of trying something new and potentially failing can make you feel uncomfortable, and even threaten your identity.
A growth mindset. From this perspective, you see all that happens to you, success or failure as a learning opportunity. You are curious and inclined to take on challenges, even when failure is a possibility. You do not connect your effort to your identity; meaning you do not feel the need to be the best at something or defend yourself when you make a mistake. You are focused on improving yourself and developing greater capabilities.
Your brain & your mindset.
The brain and neuroplasticity are dominant factors that contribute to a growth mindset. Neural pathways are altered by our experiences and are constantly adapting to new situations and the environment we are in. The basis of a growth mindset is to establish curiosity, resilience and adaptability. The more we demonstrate willingness to take risks, challenge ourselves and try new things, the more we create neural pathways that reinforce a growth mindset. Before you know it, these neural pathways are strengthened, and you’ve achieved a new way of operating.
Confidence & a growth mindset.
A fixed mindset is trying to keep us safe, the downside is that it also keeps us small. Confidence is a powerful resource when developing and sustaining a growth mindset. When we lack confidence, it’s easy to get stuck in our own heads, limiting our opportunities and what we believe is possible for us.
To grow and leverage the opportunities presented to us, a shortcut is to adopt a growth mindset and to do this in a gentle and self-compassionate way. This means challenging and expanding our thinking, asking ourselves some good questions;
- What is holding me back from trying something new?
- Why is my identity/sense of self so tied to my expertise and being right?
- How can I get more comfortable with failing and taking healthy risks?
- How can I ask for help with confidence?
As we answer these questions and begin to rewrite the stories we tell ourselves, we will see opportunities we didn’t think were available to us before.
Leaning into these new opportunities can feel daunting and uncertain at first, and that’s why we need the courage and confidence to step out of our comfort zone, to ask for help, and to be resilient (especially when we fail). Redefining our relationship with fear and failure enables more options and freedom. And freedom brings many possibilities; including the desire to try new things and facilitating continuous learning and growth. By starting small – taking small risks, asking for help in low stakes environments and being ok with not getting something perfect, we start to build both confidence and a growth mindset.
A growth mindset is necessary to meet the future.
Innovation, failure, adaptation and flexibility are the building blocks of a growth mindset. Continuous learning and improvement are essential if you want to be a high achiever in the workforce. In a complex, dynamic world, with continual disruption, your ability to adopt a growth mindset, ensures you have the capacity to address roadblocks, explore and deal with challenging people and feedback.
So, in what small way, will you embrace a growth mindset today?
“Start small – reframe your thinking from ‘I can’t’ to ‘what if’. By making this simple change, you start to expand your world and move towards a growth mindset ” – Fiona Pearman