Can your perspective change the course of your life?

Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychology professor, believes it can. Dweck pioneered the terms “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset” as language to distinguish two different perspectives one might take. And, she argues, when you adopt a growth mindset, you may not have the career you want – yet – but you can develop into the professional who can obtain it.

Dweck’s research concludes your view of yourself can impact how you lead your life, both personally and professionally, and can drive you to achieve the things you value.

Are you ready to adopt a new perspective that paves the way to your career transformation?

Locked in or Cultivating change?

Ultimately, the you view your skills, talents, and intelligence drives the type of mindset you have. People who believe those features are static, and cannot be changed or developed, often feel pressure to continue to consistently prove their skills, and often entrust success to talent. Over time, the constant pressure to prove yourself can become exhausting, limiting, and discouraging.

On the other hand, if you foster a growth mindset, you will expect to enrich your qualities through work, development, and coaching and feedback from others. As a result, you are likely to pursue learning and development throughout your life, keeping in mind if you want something you don’t currently have, it just means you aren’t there yet.

Make up your mind: At work

When it comes to professional life, your mindset dictates your perspective on leadership, management, and coaching. At a leadership level, a fixed mindset can wreak havoc on an organization, fostering a culture of defense, less open leaders and in many cases, discouraging open feedback and spurring greater issues like a sense of superiority toward lower level employees or groupthink, when a group doesn’t allow for any healthy disagreement and collectively agrees to something detrimental. Dweck cites multiple examples of companies that suffered from this fixed approach, including Enron in her 2006 book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

What does it look like to adopt a growth mindset at work? Some key attributes include:

  • Using a mistake to adjust a strategy instead of feeling discouraged or giving up
  • Taking feedback for perspective, instead of taking feedback personally
  • A desire to understanding employees better to motivate them
  • Fostering a teamwork environment
  • Encouraging development coaching

Using Praise Effectively

Praise and feedback can cement an employee’s perspective as well. When feedback focuses on talent or attributes over the effort and learning invested, it emphasizes the latent talent an individual has instead of reinforcing the power of hard work.

For example, telling a new employee “You learned this role so quickly – you’re very intelligent” praises intelligence as an attribute. A growth mindset form of praise may be something like, “You have been working hard to support the team and learn from everyone, and I can see that hard work is paying off in your proficiency in the role.”

Change your Mind(set)

Talking about a growth mindset is different from actually adopting one. You’ll need to have a strategy to put in the effort, and continue to persist the work over time. Dweck offers several suggestions to adopt a growth mindset:

  • Acknowledge your fixed mindset
  • Determine what tends to trigger your fixed mindset
  • Identify the beliefs you hold when you’re using a fixed mindset
  • Combat your fixed mindset when you sense yourself adopting it

By cultivating a growth mindset, you’ll use your existing talent, skills, knowledge, and abilities as a springboard to further develop into the professional you’d like to be. Understanding that you’re not there – yet – will foster a deep love of learning, resilience, and the motivation to use today’s mistakes and shortcomings to grow and improve for tomorrow’s opportunities.

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