The difference between having a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset can make or break your career development opportunities, induce excess stress, and make you quite unhappy. According to Stanford professor Carol Dweck, those with a fixed mindset are people that, “believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them.” On the opposite side of the spectrum, Harvard Business Review defines those with a growth mindset as, “individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others).”
So, is a fixed or growth mindset inherently locked based on several factors such as genetics, experience, education, personality, and other factors? Or is mindset a skill that can be homed in on and refined like several other leadership skills. Luckily, it’s the latter, and those who practice conscious leadership have benefited greatly from understanding what mindset they currently find themselves in, and how to move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Below, we give you eight helpful strategies to develop your growth mindset.
1. Own Your Mindset
Take time to understand what state your mindset is currently in. If you find yourself in a fixed mindset, that’s the first step in moving towards a growth mindset. People, and their brains, are fluid—just because you’re in pinch doesn’t mean you can’t adapt. That’s what humans were designed to do.
2. Understand Strengths and Weaknesses
Just like understanding your mindset, it’s important to take a reflective audit of where your strengths and weaknesses truly are. By identifying areas that could use refinement, you’ll be able to focus your development issues and close the gaps between your strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledge though, you don’t have to do EVERYTHING well to be successful—that’s why you have a team to back you up/to delegate tasks to/etc.
3. Give it All You’ve Got
Everyone falls short sometimes. At the end of the day though, if you’ve given a project everything you’ve got you should feel proud no matter the outcome. Investing a ton of effort should be rewarded—particularly if you have an opportunity to learn something new.
4. Set Aside Time for Introspection
It’s easy to get caught up in the grind of the day-to-day. It’s important to reserve time for yourself to disconnect and reflect. By doing so, you’ll have a clearer picture of what you’ve learned, where to focus development, and will also feel more refreshed for your next opportunity. If you don’t take time to reflect, you’re not truly taking the time to learn.
5. Don’t Shy Away from Risks
Don’t waste the mental energy worrying about making a mistake in the company of your peers. Everyone makes mistakes and if you’re worried about making one, you’re not going to take the risks necessary to set yourself apart. Heck, if you take a risk and come up short, you’ve still won. There are so many learnings to take away from a shortcoming and companies should cherish employees willing to go out on a limb to find breakthroughs.
6. Grow Together as a Team
The same goes for if a teammate took a risk and falls short. Instead of worrying whether they accomplished what they set out to do, use these experiences to learn and grow together. A team that has multiple people with a growth mindset is invaluable to an organization. They will be able to learn faster, grow together, and help identify winning strategies.
7. Get Over Your Fear of Criticism
People inherently shy away from criticism or projects and tasks that may expose them to criticism. The most successful people seek out criticism and see it for what it truly is—a positive opportunity to get honest feedback, apply it, and become the best they can be.
8. Hurdles Are Learning Opportunities, Not Roadblocks
Have you ever gotten a project and said to yourself, “How am I ever going to get this done?” Remember, effort should be placed before all else. Use these challenges as an opportunity to grow—learning skills you may not have, getting experience in new areas, and getting the chance to identify opportunities for self-improvement as you continue to grow.
At the end of the day, having a growth mindset is another skill you can add to your toolbelt. Dedicating time and effort to identify your current mindset and shift towards growth will help you develop the professional career you’ve always wanted. Likewise, if you approach your professional life with a growth mindset, you may find yourself a bit happier and less stressed. Embrace the challenges, learn from setbacks, and put in the effort to continually get better.