Have you ever vocalised or thought to yourself, in your life to date, this statement, “But this is just the way I am!”
Or when you tried to learn a skill but had difficulty, you resign yourself to not learning the skill and say, “well, you really can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
But then you go and say you have a growth mindset.
Did you know those statements reflect a fixed mindset? How is that? You never thought you needed to improve your mindset.
Well, a lot of times, the way people perceive themselves, how they behave, and what they really are are all not the same. Why do you think companies subject job applicants, and even their employees, to personality tests and behavioural assessments?
I am a firm believer in assessments. Before I start any mindset coaching, I need to have an understanding of my prospective client. A discovery call is an excellent way to start the process, and then the assessments, for validation.
People can have a different view of themselves. It is possible for people to be unaware of their mindset. You can say one thing in interviews and conversations, but your behaviour and test results may show differently. It is not being phoney. A person may just not be self-aware.
Carol Dweck, an American psychologist, is known for her research on mindsets. She says of her work, “My research looks at the origins of these mindsets, their role in motivation and self-regulation, and their impact on achievement and interpersonal processes.”
Her mindset theory, which began in the 1970s, proposes two mindsets – fixed and growth mindsets. These mindsets dictate how a person perceives success, challenges, accepts feedback, failures, and mistakes, among other things.
Dweck’s research states that with a Growth mindset, a person’s talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. While people with a Fixed mindset believe that their talents, abilities, and intelligence are fixed traits.
Given those facts, can we change mindsets? How is it possible?
Here are 5 Ways to Change Your Mindset:
- Be Self-aware
The first rule in problem-solving is stating the problem.
Are you aware of your mindset? Are your everyday decisions leaning on the positive or negative? How do you react to feedback, challenges, mistakes, and failures?
If you have been living on auto-pilot there is a big possibility that you are not self-aware. When you are on auto-pilot, you live without giving much thought to your actions. You merely exist, day in and day out.
Because you are comfortable with your life, you think you don’t need to change anything. The longer you stay in this mindset, the more deeply the thought of stagnation will be ingrained.
So when a colleague invites you to join a webinar or an online course to upskill, update industry knowledge, or for networking purposes, you say, “No, am good.”
- Resolve to Fix the Problem
However, once you acknowledge your situation, you should decide to get out of your comfort zone.
Growth happens outside of your comfort zone, not inside your cocoon. Make a list of specific things that are uncomfortable to you – public speaking, introducing yourself to strangers, all social situations, eating alone in a public place, asking for help, making the excel report which you always ask your colleague to do for you because you are “weak in Maths,” etc.
Decide to tackle one of those difficult things on your list, and do not stop until you crush it. However, do not sacrifice growth over speed. You don’t have to rush learning. I know how it will be difficult for some people to get over their discomforts and fears in social settings. It will take time, practice, persistence, and more practice. Try speaking before a mirror, read a book in front of a mirror, take a video of yourself speaking, see what needs to be improved, ask a friend to observe you, and get feedback. In time you will see improvements.
Cross it off your list after you have accomplished it, go over your list until you have completed it. Repeat.
- Do the Opposite
Another way to conquer a fixed mindset is to do the opposite. How does a fixed mindset think? If you find yourself thinking this way,
“But this is just the way I am!”
“Well, you really can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
“He is the way he is because he was born smart.”
“I don’t want to try. I might fail.”
“My report was disappoved. I am incompetent.”
“I can’t do it. I give up.”
“I made a mistake! I feel so embarrassed.”
Stop. Take a moment to check your thoughts and decide to reverse your thoughts.
“I am sorry. Thank you for telling me. I will get help.”
“Age is just a number.”
“We can all improve.”
“I am not good at it yet. Give me time to learn the skill.”
“Thank you for your feedback. I appreciate it. I will do better next time.”
“Let me try again.”
“Everyone makes mistakes. I will try again and avoid the same mistake.”
- Check Progress
If you haven’t tried journaling, it is now the best time to start one. Journaling helps you track down your progress.
Carve a time within your day to reflect on how you are doing with your mindset journey. How would you know if you are improving when you do not have an actual record of events? When did you realise or accept that you have a problem? Remember, you have to list down all your challenging tasks or situations you find uncomfortable. Where do you log them? When did you start to practise before a mirror or take a video of you speaking aloud? What did your friend say you need to improve?
You will be amazed and amused reading how much you have improved months after you start your journal.
- Get help
Keep your focus on the process. Do not focus on the time. There is no rush. The more important part is the learning process.
A fixed mindset will not ask for help because he thinks he does not need any improvement and that asking for help is a sign of weakness.
On the contrary, the moment you ask for help, you are showing a growth mindset.
If you feel you want to get professional help to guide you through the process of developing a growth mindset, by all means, get one.
The hardest part is always the first step. Hurdle that big moment, and you will be good to go the extra mile.
As you get comfortable with your challenges, you will find yourself more open to accepting more challenging tasks.
Just keep on keeping on!