“Always be coachable” is the favourite mantra of my teenage daughters’ Camogie coach. She is opening their young minds to the power of the ‘growth mindset’. She is encouraging each team member to always be open to listening and learning.
We all know this mantra in some form. Does “always be a student” or “every day is a school day” sound familiar? These are different takes on the same mantra suggesting that we should always be open to learning.
What is a Growth Mindset?
The concept of the growth mindset was introduced by psychologist Carol Dweck. It’s the belief that your abilities, skills and knowledge can be developed through dedication, effort, learning and persistence.
As with all the key components of resilience that I am dealing with in this blog series, the growth mindset is a learnable skill.
Linking a Growth Mindset with Resilience
Let’s put this bluntly. You don’t get handed resilience. You can’t attend a training course and come out the other side as a newly resilient person. You need to grow resilience, nurture it consistently and give it direction. You develop your resilience every day so it can endure the rigours of leadership.
Resilience is the product of personal and professional growth. Growth that does not happen without intent. Growth that takes time and patience. Growth that requires control and perspective. You can see the trend here as these are the other learnable skills I have addressed so far on this blog series – please feel free to check them out here (there are more to come on this series as well).
A person with a true growth mindset views every task, challenge, problem and setback as a learning opportunity where she can develop her skills and get better. She knows there is no quick route to resilience. She recognises that resilience takes patient building, persistence and effort.
When you see resilience play out, it is most definitely not the result of some ‘life hack’, so often promulgated on social media these days. Nor is it the result of the person suddenly deciding to assume a more resilient attitude. Luck plays no part either.
It is worth repeating: resilience is the result of developing these learnable skills, including a growth mindset.
You Never, Ever Arrive….so, get used to it.
How many times in your life have you observed someone with significant talent fail to fulfil their potential? Quite often, I imagine. People you have studied with, worked with, played sport with etc.
Reflect on the above question for a moment. How many of these people failed to fulfil their potential because they believed they already had everything they needed to be successful? They believed they had already arrived at their destination.
By adopting this attitude, they have stopped being a student. They have stopped being coachable, undermining resilience because they can no longer see their potential. They no longer look at a situation to identify opportunities to grow, learn and progress.
Their mistake? In seeing the destination as a defined skill set, whether or not they already possessed it or was within their reach. This is indicative of a ‘fixed mindset’. For a person with a growth mindset, the destination is not set or defined. It is a journey of continuous development, learning, improvement, and growth where every situation is considered in terms of its, and their own, potential.
You must never believe you have arrived, accepting that ‘arrival’ is never going to happen. There is always potential to explore, possibilities to uncover, and growth to achieve.
This is the essence of the growth mindset.
Developing a Growth Mindset
You can practice and develop a growth mindset, reaping the benefits in your own resilient leadership and also role modelling a powerful learning approach for your team.
Growth cannot take place without awareness. Which mindset are you more inclined towards, fixed or growth? Recognise your natural inclination so you can more readily adapt in situations and also plan appropriate actions to develop your growth mindset.
- Challenge Your Beliefs
Now that you are aware of your natural inclinations, your task is to catch yourself when you move into a fixed mindset. When you do this, challenge those fixed thoughts and ask how you can approach the situation with a growth mindset instead.
- Learn to Learn
The more you learn, the more adaptable and resilient you become. However, many of us are inefficient learners in our everyday lives. Learn to approach every situation with the intention of identifying what you don’t know about it and gather as much information as possible so you have a good overview of what is required (this is not learning). Now you can focus on this information, dismiss preconceived notions and start the process of understanding the information and practicing the new skills. Now you can continue to stack new information about this topic on top of what you already know, process it and assimilate it into your knowledge and understanding.
- Process Before Result
The truly resilient person will measure themselves against the process of learning rather than the result. Growth cannot be immediately seen and will take time. You should be more concerned about where you are on the learning curve, how you got there and how you are planning to progress further on the curve.
The result is the outcome of your preparation. Nothing more.
- Cultivate Persistence
Resilience requires persistent effort. So does a growth mindset. You need to invest the ‘hard yards’ and put in the work to achieve your goals.
- Adapt to Change
Reframe the change and challenges you face in your leadership role so you look at them as opportunities for learning and growth. These are chances to acquire new skills and experiences.
- Set Growth Oriented Goals
Define clear objectives that require learning and effort. These goals will encourage you to embrace challenges and persist through setbacks.
- Take Risks
Take calculated risks, exploring new ideas and approaches. By doing this, you will be actively developing your growth mindset.