I recently spent some time designing and delivering a large number of workshops on Growth versus Fixed Mindset to front office customer service teams at PayPal.
Mindset and success is always a topic I found hugely interesting, yet it was not until I sat down and researched it that I fully grasped its importance in all aspects of our lives. Success means different things to different people. I based my material on the research of Carol Dweck, a Stanford pyschologist who spent over thirty years researching this topic and identifed the key traits of people with each mindset.
My only ask of the attendees was to create awareness on mindset as a concept and for people to ask themselves if their mindset was serving them well.
What I was not prepared for were the golden nuggets and level of honesty I was grateful to learn from the workshop participants and their leaders.
Most of us are aware that those of us with fixed mindsets find change and challenge difficult and often give up. We know that people with this mindset struggle with feedback, quite often take it personally, have a desire to look smart and believe that our abilities are fixed and can’t be improved. We know people with growth mindsets have a strong level of determination, see effort as incredibly important, embrace life’s challenges, recognise feedback as an assessment on current capabilities and see failure as learning opportunities.
We looked at strategies for shifting to a more growth mindset such as examining negative self talk and quite literally talking right back at it. We talked about the learning pit; that pit where you feel stuck and overwhelmed with change or learning something new. We talked about how sitting with this overwhelming feeling of not being able to figure a way forward usually enables us to make our way out of the pit with light bulbs and challenges overcome.
We spent time discussing an important tool for recording our achievements and successes; our “Success Bank”, a concept I learnt during my Life and Executive Coaching diploma at Positive Success Group. Our success bank allows us lean on previous successes for reflection and motivation but most importantly to remember the vital learnings that we might just need again.
The following are some of the golden nuggets and insights that have remained with me from the people who bravely share their thoughts:
- It is vital that we teach our children the importance of effort and determination; often more important than the result or outcome
- As teachers and parents we have such an important role to play in fostering growth mindsets in our children. Intelligence is one thing but if we don’t develop resilient children who fall down and get back up and try again, we will let our children down.
- We all set goals and more often than not we achieve them. What we fail to do is sit down and reflect on these achievements, the hurdles we encountered and how we overcame them. Celebrating them is seldom but wonderful ! One lady vowed to do a success bank with her nine year old daughter who she felt was giving up at times of frustration. I for one never thought about doing this with my five year old and we now talk about little achievements regularly and are planning on putting it on the fridge shortly.
- Most of us initially react to life’s challenges with a fixed mindset and often want to make our way to the exit feeling overwhelmed and stuck. The important thing is to consciously respond to this state by using the muscles we have to exercise our growth mindset; we need to feed and nuture it by talking back at our self talk, revisiting old successes and persevering when in the pit of change and learning.
- Intelligence alone will not determine our success; mindset, our emotional intelligence and attitude is a vital partner.
- When we stop blaming others for our challenges and mistakes we make a massive shift towards adopting a mindset of growth. One humble participant called himself out for doing this repeatedly, made a promise to himself to stop this and has since then enjoyed much higher levels of performance.
- Simply creating awareness around the health of your mindset is a critical step to making simple changes in your every day life. One participant walked away with a promise to himself to look for a new role for the first time in nine years; he realised he was getting in his own way.
I walked away from these sessions with deeper insight around mindset, it’s ultimate significance along with some wonderful stories. I realised through sharing my own experiences that I’ve been sabotaging my attempts to become a more consistent runner allowing my self talk to overcome my progress.
As a parent, I have put a greater focus on determination and effort over outcome and results.
Although as a coach I have seen mindset as a speed ramp for many, I spend more time with clients delving into mindset more curiously as it arises as a focus area.
But most of all I am practising what I preach.
As the poster in our playroom as kids said ” a winner never quits and a quitter never wins”.