Why having a growth mindset matters right now

We are in the midst of a crazy time. There is no sugar coating.

No matter how to slice it, the current health situation and the economic state are challenging.

We’re weeks into business and school closures, layoffs, quarantines, social distancing, flooded hospitals, and the list goes on.

Yet, without denying all the disheartening things that are going on, it does not have to be all doom and gloom. 

Just like Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of the difficulty lies opportunity.”

But we can only see that if we let our minds wander that way.

What I’m referring to is our mindset. Your mindset is your frame of mind – a collection of thoughts and beliefs that shape how you think, what you feel and what you do, and how you see yourself.

Your mindset impacts the decisions you make and how you deal with challenges. And because of that, your mindset can have a huge positive or negative impact on your life…

… but like a muscle, it’s not pre-determined and can be trained and shaped.

Psychologist Carol Dweck studied the way people view themselves and how that influences their ability to face challenges. She developed a theory that separates mindsets into two categories: fixed mindset and growth mindset.

A fixed mindset is one where you believe your intelligence is an innate characteristic.

In her research, Dweck found that this mindset discourages people from challenging themselves and putting themselves in a situation where their weaknesses are exposed. People with a fixed mindset often withdraw in the face of difficulty, which closes off opportunity to grow.

A growth mindset, on the other hand, is one where you believe that you can improve yourself and become smarter.

It allows you to face or even embrace challenges because you see them as opportunities for learning. For example, a growth mindset allows us to see this crisis as an opportunity to rethink how we’ve been doing things, identify gaps, and learn from our mistakes.

Stay curious about your mindset and the mindsets of the people on your team throughout the response to COVID-19.

Unfortunately, it is a natural human tendency to lean toward a fixed mindset during a crisis as it’s a comfortable “control” mechanism for most people.

However, it is not the mindset that will help you or your team members stay productive, resilient, and calm during this stressful time.

If you, like most of us, think you might have some room for improvement on this one, then here are 3 things you can right now.

#1 Increase your self-awareness

What are you telling yourself when it gets tough? Check out the statements below and see how a fixed-minded belief can be turned into a growth-minded belief. Then do the best you can to reframe your fixed thoughts when you notice them. The more you’ll be able to influence your thoughts, the better you’ll get at this.

  • I can’t do it –> I’m still learning. I’ll keep trying
  • I’m not good at this –> What can I learn to get better at this?
  • It’s good enough –> Is this the best I can do?
  • It’s too hard –> With more practice it will get easier
  • I’m afraid of making mistakes –> Mistakes are how I learn and get better
  • They are better at it than I am –> What can I learn from them?
  • I don’t know how –> I can learn how
  • I don’t like challenges –> Challenges make me better
  • I give up –> I’ll try a different way

#2 Create opportunities for learning

During this time at home, find new things you can learn and encourage your team to do the same. Maybe it is work-related and maybe it’s not.

As long as you expose your brain to something new and you’re engaging in a learning process, you’re training your brain to see the possibilities of growth.

#3 Admit failures and capitalize on them

Especially during this current time, don’t sweep failure under the rug; instead, they embrace it.

Spend time with your team members debriefing what is going well and what isn’t and which adjustments to work schedules, routines, projects, responsibilities, etc. are working out and which ones are not and need to be revisited.

This will demonstrate that all of this is a learning process. We didn’t plan for a pandemic nor were we able to foresee the implications this pandemic has and we now all have to learn and reiterate as we go and that’s ok!

Developing a growth mindset is based on your willingness and commitment to challenge and change your most powerful beliefs to become a new, better version of yourself. 

If there is ever a time when the decision to do so matters most, then this is it!

Don’t waste this crisis. Use it to learn, to grow, and to surge from it as a stronger person and better leader than you were.

And if you want some help by your side, then let’s talk.

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