If you’ve ever suspected you’ve got more potential than you’re actually achieving, then part of the problem may be your mindset. The way we handle mistakes and setbacks is determined by our thinking. Two sets of mindsets come into play, according to Carol Dweck, Ph.D., author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Random House, 2006).
Unlike IQ, which remains relatively fixed, you can learn to shift your mindset so that you can grow and achieve more success.
Everyone has two basic mindsets: open to growth, or closed and fixed.
- An open mindset is open to learning and changing, believing one can always do better.
- The fixed mindset is entrenched in the belief that natural talents and abilities predetermine success.
Begin by paying attention to all the ways you are using a fixed mindset. You could be applying fixed thinking to your career, sports, and even to your relationships.
To replace a fixed mindset with a growth mindset you’ll need to embrace the things that have felt threatening, such as criticism, setbacks, and challenges. Are you willing to look at these things as learning opportunities instead of threats?
Remember: the first step toward change is awareness. You can’t shift your attitude until you’re aware of the many ways you’re using a fixed mindset.
Three Questions to Shift Your Mindset
Ask yourself these three questions to shift your thinking:
- What can I do today that would advance the knowledge and skills I need to be successful at my goal?
- What can I learn about this task so I can achieve it?
- Who can I ask for help or feedback with this goal?
The difference between successful people and those who are not is often as simple as asking yourself these three questions: what can I do, what can I learn, who can help me?
This is how a growth mindset starts to take hold in your brain. Instead of putting things off, or finding reasons and rationalizations for why you’re not succeeding like you think you should, answer these questions and then make a concrete plan.
It’s not enough to dream, although that helps to form a clear picture of what you want. You also need to visualize and articulate what you’re going to do, when you will do it, and specify the details.
The idea is not only to shift your mindset, but to also get into action. The best mindset in the world is worthless if you don’t follow through.
Recovering From a Closed Mindset
Anyone can change his or her mindset. It requires conscious practice and vigilance, as well as a willingness to be open to learning and changing.
For example: “At 9 a.m. tomorrow, I’ll set that appointment to discuss the situation. I’ll ask questions and receive feedback, without acting defensive. I won’t make excuses. I’ll take in information, be receptive, and thank others for their input. I can decide what to do later.”
Detailed plans that cover when, where, and how you’re going to do something lead to high levels of follow-through and increase your chances of success. Even if you have negative feelings, you must carry through with your growth-oriented plan.
How to Grow Your Mindset
Are you in a fixed or growth mindset in your workplace? Ask yourself the following questions, which will encourage an open mindset:
- Are there ways I could be less defensive about my mistakes?
- How could I profit more from the feedback I get?
- In what ways can I create more learning experiences for myself and my team?
- How can I help myself and my team get mentoring or coaching?
- In what ways can I create a culture of self-examination, collaboration, and teamwork?
- What are the signs of groupthink in my work group?
- How can I encourage alternative views and constructive criticism?
The idea is that by adopting a mindset open to learning, you’re not afraid of risks because they’re part of the learning and growing process. What do you think? As always, I’d love to hear from you. Give me a call, 704-827-4474. Or, you can reach me here and on LinkedIn.