How To Improve Your Life By Developing A Growth Mindset

Blamé Virus

My good friend at Wanting More talks about the epidemic of the Blamé virus. The virus, once it has taken hold, attacks the host aggressively. The host loses all sense of responsibility and blames others for their problems.

Once it has taken hold of its host it can lay dormant, waiting for the right moment to attack.

I want to develop the idea of the Blamé Virus and take it a step further.

If you feel stuck in a rut, if your life is going in circles or life is passing you by then this article is for you.

Do you look at others thinking ‘How did they get to where they are today?’ ‘How did they get to be so lucky?’ ‘What do they know that I don’t?’

Your questions hint at a magic formula, a secret that no one else is telling you.

Here’s the thing; there is no secret and the answer is already within you.

The biggest difference between you and ‘them’ is mindset.

They have a growth mindset helping them to achieve their goals and move forward.

If you have a fixed mindset this will hold you back.

I want to show you the benefits of a growth mindset and explain how you can embrace this way of thinking and acting.

Fixed Mindset Vs Growth Mindset

You may not have come across the terms fixed and growth mindset. I stumbled across it in an unlikely place (more on this later) and I knew I wanted to share it with you. Let’s look at what the two mindsets mean and how they translate into life.

One thing to remember as we look at fixed and growth mindsets; It is possible to have both a fixed and growth mindset. It would be rare to find someone who is in just one camp all the time.

The overlap happens because we all react to situations in different ways. Our upbringing, our experiences and our environment all affect this.

You will favour one mindset over the other, but don’t worry if you identify with both.

Fixed

A person with a fixed mindset believes their traits (intelligence/talent) do not move. They believe talent is the only reason in creating success, nothing else.

Growth

A person with a growth mindset believes their traits develop through dedication and hard work.

They believe talent is a starting point but without hard work it will come to nothing.

Common thought patterns of fixed and growth mindsets could look like this:

Growth Mindset

Take a look at the two mindsets. Which do you most identify with?

Having a growth mindset means you are more likely to achieve your goals and move in the direction you want.

In our life we tell ourselves stories about what we are not good at, what we can’t achieve and why we don’t deserve success.

How crazy is this?

When you look at it like this it seems irrational, yet we do it.

The Sting

I remember walking into a review meeting to appraise my performance.

I knew my year could had been better so I prepared some examples to show what I had delivered.

I got the lowest grade I had ever received and it was also the lowest compared against my peers.

It stung and it hurt. I could feel the fever of the Blame Virus. It was about to take hold.

How could this be happening?

Then I realised. I had a fixed mindset.

I had relaxed and although I was working hard I was not consistent. I relied on my talent to get me through the year and support my grade.

In the meantime my peers were working harder than me. Learning about themselves, improving their talent and working in a growth mindset. This is a delicious mix and they overtook me.

After licking my wounds I went back to basics and re-evaluated how I was working. I focused on doing the right things at the right time.

It was a great learning experience. It reminded me that effort and hard work is the foundation for everything.

As I mentioned at the start of this article, it is rare to be only in one mindset. You jump between both and the key is to stay rooted in a growth mindset.

Takeaways

  • There are two types of mindset – fixed and growth.
  • Fixed believes traits will not improve but stay static.
  • Growth believes traits can improve and strong work ethic is key.
  • You are more likely to achieve your goals having a growth mindset.
  • We tell ourselves stories that we are not good enough – this is crazy.
  • You can move between fixed and growth mindsets.

Growth Mindset

Get Them Young

By the time we grow up it proves harder to move from a fixed mindset to one of growth.

Would our lives be any different if we grew up in a growth culture as children?

It is impossible to say but what will be interesting is the next generation, the toddlers of today.

Schools teach the growth mindset and it underpins the curriculum. it is this fact that inspired the article you are reading today.

I was stood waiting for my Daughter to finish class. To pass the time I started to read some of the curriculum info and other notices around the cloakroom.

One that caught my eye said:

IT IS OK TO GET IT WRONG. IT IS NOT OK TO TRY.

I loved this. The result is always important but at a toddlers age it is more important to for them to give it a go.

If they put the effort and determination in now they are building strong foundations for the future.

Refining talent (English/Maths/Science/Art/Sports) will come later – effort first.

As I moved into the classroom area it had the usual drawings and paintings on the wall.

One poster caught my eye and it backs up the idea of hard work and application.

Growth Mindset

It is about re-framing the understandable tendencies of toddlers who make mistakes, believing they are not good at a particular activity.

Takeaways

  • The growth mindset is developing in the youngest minds.
  • Schools are teaching children that effort is important and expected.
  • We have an opportunity to aid the schools and develop a growth mindset environment at home.

Resilience and Tenacity

We are not children, yet the lessons taught in nursery are just as valuable for us today as adults.

We know that learning from mistakes creates positivity in our lives. Existing skills will develop and we will learn new skills which will strengthen.

We know the importance of resilience and tenacity.

We are tough on ourselves, reflect and decide on what could work better. If we don’t know how to do something we look at what others do and act ‘as if.’

We have this knowledge yet in some cases we fall short. We do not put this understanding into action. Instead, we do the opposite, or a version of it.

Our self-esteem takes a hit. We decide we have reached our skill limit and it won’t improve. We crack under pressure and we decide the effort is not worth it. We are tough on ourselves. We look at others and think ‘I could not do what they do.’

Growth Mindset

Growth vs Fixed 

It is a constant battle against the inner voice and our self-doubt. You can win the battle by demonstrating a growth mindset on a daily basis.

Some will find developing a growth mindset to be easier than others..

Whether you are naturally inclined to focus on a growth mindset or not there are daily habits you can build.

Here are my top suggestions for developing and maintaining a growth mindset.

Inner Voice

Recognise when your fixed mindset is rearing its ugly head.

We all have that voice telling us we are not good enough. That we don’t deserve success. That we will expose ourselves if we try, etc.

Believing this voice will keep you rooted in a fixed mindset.

Acknowledging the voice is key to defeating and overcoming it. Deciding to do it anyway will move you to a growth mindset.

Curiosity

Always be open to the opportunity of learning.

Be inquisitive, ask questions and dig under the surface.

Don’t look at ideas on the basis of whether they will succeed or fail. Instead explore what opportunities exist for learning. This will include learning about yourself and the people around you.

Self Reflection

I know lots of people hate to self-analysis. They want to push on and consider looking back a weakness. Perhaps you are worrying about what you will see?

Self reflection is key to developing a growth mindset. Reflecting is not about focusing on what went wrong. It is about looking at what you did, how you did it and what it teaches you for the future.#

Growth Mindset

Questions to consider when reflecting:

  • Could I have done something differently? 
  • What outcome did I want? 
  • What are the positives from my learning? 
  • What could I teach others?

Feedback

In the business world you will experience both good and bad performance reviews.

If you are a leader then providing feedback is key in helping to develop a growth mindset in your team.

Listen out for the phrases seen in the nursery poster when sitting down with your team. Explore their point of view about their performance. Where they are showing signs of a fixed mindset aim to shift it towards growth. Use the alternative phrases in the nursery poster as a starting point.

Feedback works both ways so insist on feedback from your team. Accepting and using feedback is a key indicator of a growth mindset. The one to one review  is the ideal place for this as it gives you a chance to give and receive feedback.

Taking Action

You can think and read about growth mindset all you want.

Without action nothing will change and you will not rewire your thinking.

Beliefs, goals and taking action are intrinsically linked to success. By making daily choices linked to your goals you will move closer to a growth mindset

Go High and Go Hard

We are poor at estimating what our best efforts are. You may think you know what your best efforts are, but you probably have another 10% to 15% inside you.

Achieving small daily goals is important. A growth mindset oriented person will set high standards. Often the standards will be a big stretch, bordering on what feels like the impossible.

When we pick the easier tasks we are kidding ourselves of the difficulty level involved.

It is also a sign of a fixed mindset – we choose the easy stuff over fear of failure or rejection. Having a growth mindset means you will develop courage and curiosity – which we have already cited as being important.

Growth Mindset

Four Minute Mile

One of my favourite examples to show the fixed vs growth mindset is Roger Bannister.

Roger Bannister was the first athlete to run a mile in under four minutes.

What made his victory stand out was the idea of anyone ever breaking the four-minute mile.

Everyone said it was impossible and some even claimed it was dangerous to the human body to run this quick.

Athletes attempted to break the magical four minutes over hundreds of years – some claim thousands.

In the 1940’s the record was shaved down to 4:01. The psychological barrier of breaking through four minutes seemed impossible.

Everyone was convinced it could not be done.

Everyone apart from Roger Bannister.

On 6th May 1954 Roger Bannister clocked a time of 3:59

Growth Mindset

People could not believe what had happened. The impossible had been achieved. If Roger could do it then perhaps others could achieve a sub four-minute time as well?

Over the next 13 months a further four athletes broke the record. Not huge numbers but people knew it could be done. This was a huge psychological shift for everyone who thought it was impossible.

It changed their mindset of being fixed ‘It can’t be done, so why bother trying?’ to ‘I can be better, I’m going to work harder and I’m going to work out how I can copy what Roger Bannister did.’

How did Roger achieve something that had never been done?

He developed a growth mindset and linked this to his beliefs and goals.

He was curious (How can I achieve this? What do I need to differently? Who can help me?).

He acknowledged his inner voice but spoke back, explaining it could be done.

Feedback from his coach and support team in training will have helped him to adjust his performance.

He went high and he went hard to achieve something that had never been achieved before.

We all have our four-minute miles to run? How are you going to use your growth mindset? When are you going to do the impossible?

Takeaways

  • We know the logical advantages of a growth mindset yet we allow the fixed mindset to take control.
  • Overcoming this means having a daily focus on having a growth mindset.
  • Six key steps exist in developing a growth mindset.
  • Roger Bannister embraced all six steps in breaking the four-minute mile barrier.
  • Once others realised it was possible it reframe their belief system.

A growth mindset will not just help you in your work life but also in your personal life.

The benefits of a growth mindset are many. Here are some of my favourites.

  • The blame virus is cured
  • Self Esteem and confidence increases
  • You are perceived as a leader
  • You start to understand your true potential
  • You are more open to learning and feedback
  • Your levels of effort and problem solving skills improve
  • Challenges become opportunities and not problems

Notice your inner voice over the next few days. Acknowledge what it is telling you. Is your inner voice focused on fixed mindsets or growth mindsets?

Take daily steps to enhance your existing growth mindset or to develop from a fixed mindset to growth.

If it helps put up visual triggers around your desk and/or home.

I would love to hear from anyone starting this new journey, the impact it has on their lives and the lives of the people around them.

Go and smash your four-minute mile.

Believe and Take Action

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Ian Ruane

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