growth mindset pic

I recently attended a ‘How to raise a successful Mathematician’ workshop at my 8 year old’s school where the ‘growth mindset’ was emphasized as being so important at this age – it has had a big influence in K-8 education in recent years.  So many children from an early age decide that they are either good at something or they’re not, and they lose their motivation to put in effort (a fixed minsdset).  There are a number of ways we can help them to understand that although some children have to work harder than others at certain skills, they do have control (through effort levels) over how successful they can be at something.

I believe this concept should be embraced in the business world and how we navigate our way through our careers. The pace of change in the corporate world is accelerating and to succeed in any area of work, professionals need to embrace lifelong learning as a habit.  I’ve often had clients tell me oh, I don’t think I’ll be able to apply for that job because… I don’t have that experience or I don’t have that skill.  The problem is that people assume they are not capable of something or good at it and this leads to career stagnation, but we can take control of our own learning and propel our careers.  Carol Dweck, the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success says “the passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset”.  This is just as important for people who achieve success easily (perhaps through an innate level of talent) to continue to challenge themselves to achieve even greater things.

Career coaching itself holds the growth mindset as a key factor required for making positive change – for example in setting SMART goals, part of the process is to help individuals get better at something and help them navigate through the process of achieving those goals.  Career coaches also encourage people to try new things even if they make mistakes (perhaps by applying for a job that is appealing but maybe out of their comfort zone), because making mistakes is how we all learn to improve ourselves.  In making career choices with a growth mindset, we can be open to new ideas and be more confident in our actions, rather than sticking with what we’ve always done because trying something different seems too daunting.

In her book Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, Jenny Blake talks about ‘high net growth’ or ‘impactors’, those individuals who love learning, taking action, tackling new projects, solving problems and those who love to make a difference – a true growth mindset mentality!

As a coach, these are some of my favorite ways to instill a growth mindset in my clients:

  1. Set yourself a goal to learn something new every week or every month or every year (my friend Allison has learnt to decorate wedding cakes, design jewelry, trained as a massage therapist and even learnt to fly a plane!) It’s such a buzz learning a new skill and what great dinner party conversation!
  2. Replace the word ‘failing’ with ‘learning’
  3. Use the word ‘yet’ – just because you can’t do something now, doesn’t mean you can’t learn or try to accomplish it.
  4. When you make a mistake or fail at something, make a note of what you could do differently in the future.
  5. Celebrate growth with others
  6. Finally, check out the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

“In one world, effort is a bad thing.  It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented.  If you were, you wouldn’t need effort.  In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or talented” – Carol Dweck

Take action today and set yourself some new goals that will support your career!  I’d love to hear about your goals and achievements.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook.  Thank you!

As always, if you need any career support or advice, please get in touch.

Joanna Brook

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