In the world of positive psychology, one tool that I see coming up again and again is this notion of fixed vs. growth mindset, from research done by Carol Dweck. In my own work, I have used this with parents, teams, students, entrepreneurs, business leaders and pretty much just about anyone else who will listen (apologies to all my friends who graciously put up with my positive psychology patter).
I even try to use it with myself, which is probably the most challenging of all.
The graphic by Nigel Holmes brilliantly illustrates the basics of the fixed and growth mindsets, and it’s fairly clear that, to move forward with grace and learning, we want to be operating from a position of growth mindset more often.
So how do we get there?
Being aware of your own mental model is key – knowing that these two mindsets exist is the first step (congrats!) and recognizing them is next. Your own inner chatter provides you with hints about which mindset you are in. For example, if your inner chatter sounds something like, “I’m just no good at that” or “This is too tough” or “I’ll never learn do to that the right way”, then you’re solidly in “fixed mindset” territory.
Sometimes, it’s less obvious. A coaching client the other day was talking about how to develop the managers who report to him, and he wondered “What are the right questions to ask?” Presuming that there are “right” questions leads into a fixed mindset – that there is one right way to do things. When we peeled this back and created a growth target instead (embarking on a learning journey with the managers and allowing for clumsy or “wrong” questions as opportunities to learn and grow together), it was like a light went on and the burden of finding and asking the “right” questions was entirely lifted.
This notion of fixed vs. growth mindset also applies to individual (personal) change management. There are certain stages in our change journey where we get stuck and believe that we’re working hard for nothing – where we get exhausted and feel that we just can’t do it, because we have reached the end of our abilities. Adopting a growth mindset and reframing the exhaustion (I need a break; it’s tiring learning new things) will keep us propelled along our journey.
As a leader – how do you use the growth mindset in your own leadership journey? And how do you encourage it in others?
As a coach – how do you encourage growth mindset in your clients? And how are you adopting a growth mindset yourself?
Reminder of the Canadian Positive Psychology conference coming up in Toronto July 20-21.
Two great days filled with 40+ speakers on various topics in positive psychology. For more information and to register, visit the CPPA conference website. If you can’t be there, follow us on Twitter or Facebook – we’ll be tweeting with the hashtag #CPPA2012.