Shift Your Mindset For Growth


Have you ever wondered what exactly is holding you back from reaching your goals?

Or, why do some people achieve massive success and others just stay stagnant?  What do they have that you don’t?  Why can’t you create more momentum and level up your life?

The answer to this is both simple and yet complex  –  it’s mindset.  The people who are unstoppable when it comes to going after their dreams have developed a strong mindset and therefore, can stay the course no matter what circumstances arise, or eventual setbacks occur.

The book written by Carol Dweck entitled “Mindset” is an excellent read.  Upon its release, many professionals around the world took a moment of pause and re-evaluated how they approached their jobs as coaches, educators, bosses and even parents.  There are countless examples from all industries and job fields of how a “fixed” mindset played out and how it affected the person’s learning and general approach to life’s situations.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, she outlined how someone with a growth mindset reacted to various situations – positive or negative – and how they used the situation to grow and develop their strengths.

I’ve read the book a few times now and each new read provides further insight into how our minds truly react in certain situations, but more importantly, how we, as individuals, can shift our thoughts and actions to move from a fixed mindset to one that is open to challenges, a mind that embraces hard work as well as effort to achieve new things – in short, developing a growth mindset.

You see, we often set artificial limitations on our own abilities.  For example, we may believe that we will never be good at creative writing, public speaking or other valuable skills.  We fall into the “I can’t…” or “I will never be able to…” mode, which, is based on a few early attempts to do these things but they didn’t go well or ended with a negative experience.

Think back to previous experiences in your own life.  You may have tried to follow a diet and you weren’t able to stick to it and gave up after a short period of time.  It left you feeling deprived of your favourite foods and feeling rather miserable, especially after you quit and gave up on your commitment to succeed.

You may even recall situations during your school time when you received a less than stellar mark on your test. Or the time you didn’t make the school basketball team.  Or the moment you stepped on stage to deliver a public speech and you felt so awkward and embarrassed when your peers started laughing.

The book “Mindset” by Dweck talks a lot about unlocking your full potential by maintaining a growth mindset. Rather than assuming our abilities are static or fixed (unchangeable), this mindset recognizes that we can develop new skills over time – with effort and the willingness to keep going.  With slight shifts to our mindset, we can unlock new options for ourselves and others.
With this in mind, I’d like to explore some points taken from this book.

The first point is comparing the so-called fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

The way we think about and perceive our own abilities as well as our intelligence significantly impacts the trajectory of our lives. This book sheds light on how to develop and maintain a growth mindset as opposed to falling into the trap of a fixed mindset.  So, let’s briefly look at the differences between the two.

Fixed Mindset
People with a fixed mindset believe their abilities are largely set in stone. They also think they were born with certain natural traits and their level of intelligence is fixed too.  As a result of this, they often concentrate their energies on validating their already existing abilities instead of challenging themselves to learn and grow.
Unfortunately, this can cause someone to assume they will never be good in certain areas of their life.  Sometimes they experience difficulty in learning new things because they assume they lack the natural abilities needed to be successful in that particular area.

Having been an educator for 30 + years, I encountered this fixed mindset far too many times.  In fact, it broke my heart when I started working with children, who believed they could never get good marks in math or that they would ever be able to read.  They had experienced failing grades, feeling embarrassed in class when asked to read aloud, being put on the spot when called upon to answer the teacher’s question in front of all their peers, and the list of negative experiences goes on and on.  These children came to me completely deflated of all confidence, self-esteem, self-belief and feeling like a complete failure.
A further example, children would come to lessons and say things like, “Well, no wonder I am not good at math.  My mother didn’t do well in math and she hates it too.”  This particular belief passed on from a parent to a child was truly a difficult one to shift.  From that point on, I tried very hard to educate parents on the influence they had on their child’s ability and attitude towards school subjects.  I also recommended they all read Dweck’s book to gain much needed insight into mindset and how it affects our general attitude toward learning.  Did any of them actually ready it?  I’m not sure.  But I like to think I helped those children who thought they were incapable of developing a new mindset toward school work and their own ways of looking at and solving hurdles that arose.
Growth Mindset
People having a growth mindset also believe that they begin life with natural strengths.  But the difference here is that these people view this as only a starting point and understand they can learn and grow through hard work and persistence.  So, they perceive their abilities as a foundation for future growth.

Of course, they still have to work through difficulties and challenges when it comes to learning something new.  But, rather than feeling permanently stuck or limited, they see setbacks as a sort of challenge that they will overcome.  This results in invested effort on their part, trying different strategies or even look for feedback in order to overcome these difficulties.

The quote by Henry Ford sums it up quite nicely,
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

I wish everyone would take a moment to really internalize this.  How many times are we stopped in our tracks because we think we are not capable of doing something or we hold ourselves back from attempting a new skill in the belief that we just don’t have the ability?

In my life coaching business, I hear people talking about things they think they can’t do all the time.

I can’t cook. 

I can’t sing worth a darn. 

I can’t draw anything let alone paint – I have zero artist talent.

I couldn’t possibly start a business.

I can’t stick with a diet and lose the weight at all – so why should I even try. I’ll just accept it (and remain unhappy with myself).

I really want to write a book, but I would never be able to do it.

I would love to complete a triathlon someday, but I can’t swim.

Does this sound like you?  Have you ever, and be honest now, said or thought you weren’t capable of doing something and then you didn’t even try? 
Don’t fret, because you’re not alone and the good news is…you can shift your thinking.  The first step is realizing it and then the next step is flipping the script to develop a growth mindset.

I think it’s important to mention that everyone has a mixture of both mindsets depending on the context.  We may have a growth mindset in areas in which we have experienced past success, yet we are still holding a fixed mindset in areas where we have struggled.  This is perfectly normal, but if we desire change and growth, we should aspire to develop or maintain a growth mindset in all areas of life.

How to Develop and Strengthen Your Growth Mindset

The basis of a growth mindset is knowing and being aware of the fact that we all can develop and improve our abilities.  One way to initiate a growth mindset is to think about skills you have learned and mastered in the past and how you have grown in certain situations.  In other words, consider skills you once found quite challenging but yet you find them easy to do now.

For example, getting up early to work out before the day gets crazy and chaotic

Cooking a meal from scratch which gets rave reviews from the family

Getting in a 5 km walk every day

Remember, nobody is born with the ability to read, write or even ride a bike.  Speaking a language, solving basic math and playing sports all require learning and time to master these skills.  And, we have all learned skills, so we need to remind ourselves that it is possible for us to develop new and powerful skills if we want to.

Now, I do realize that some may argue that certain people are born into this world with talent or an above-average “knack” for certain skills such as math, sports or learning a foreign language. But when the word talent is brought up, a quote comes to mind by Kevin Durant, 
“Hard work beats talent (every time) when talent fails to work hard.”

Naturally, some individuals will pick up certain abilities quicker than others.  And, that’s okay. We cannot control where we start, however what really matters is that we can invest time and the effort to continually improve.  With a growth mindset, we set aside concerns about our own starting point and instead, we focus on the end result we would like to achieve.

Whatever you do, don’t compare your progress to that of others.  I think too many of us fall into this trap. Yes, your friend may have lost 10 kilos in 6 months and you are only down a measly 3 kilos during the same time frame.  Perhaps that person you follow on social media has published that book he/she has been working on within one year of starting the writing process.  And, you have been struggling to get your own thoughts and ideas on paper for years now in hopes of one day publishing your book

But in such cases, we have to consider these people who are further along in their progress may have utilized a better strategy or spent more time practicing or they may have past experiences to draw from in moving toward their goal faster.
The key here is – other’s rapid progress is not always related to innate ability. The most critical factor is the effort we put in to learning and growing beyond the base level, which we all start from.

If you can learn to love challenges, be intrigued by your mistakes, enjoy taking action and embrace the hard work involved, not become frustrated by failure but rather explore new strategies and continue to keep learning, this will be the necessary fuel for your forward momentum toward your dreams and goals.  This will help develop a true growth mindset.

I’d like to end today’s podcast with some tangible ways you can shift your thoughts toward a growth mindset, breaking down some limiting beliefs you may be harbouring and take some small steps toward your goals.

10 Ways Adults can foster and develop a Growth Mindset

1.       Don’t be afraid of challenges.  Be brave and take them on and embrace them as a form of growth.
2.       Be mindful of the words you use.  Adding ‘yet’ to the end of your sentences will have a huge impact.  Flip the script from “I can’t cook.” to “I can’t cook yet” Make it even stronger by adding, “I can’t cook…yet but I am willing to try and improve.” 
3.       Never give up! Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, so persevere and stay consistent no matter if you’re seeing results or not.
4.       Be open to constructive criticism and view it as a learning opportunity.  Easier said than done because nobody likes criticism but give it a try for reasons of learning and growing.
5.       Embrace the thought that the journey and process are more important than the outcome, so learn to take enjoyment in the journey.  A growth mindset means the journey is never over.
6.       Learn to reflect on and accept failures.  They are going to happen along the way, but they are evidence that you are trying, and failures do not define us.
7.       Constantly ask yourself, “What can I do differently?” Reframe how you perceive mistakes and use them to your advantage by employing new strategies.
8.       Focus on you and your learning, as opposed to competing with others or seeking their approval.  It’s always about YOU vs. YOU.  How can I improve myself? 
9.       Don’t shy away from seemingly difficult tasks.  You have far more potential and capability than you are even aware of. Remember that!
10.   Challenge yourself daily – I want you to challenge yourself each and every day to try something new, go the extra mile, do one thing that scares you.

Whatever this means to you, focus on becoming 1% better each day.

Just in case you haven’t heard this yet today, let me be the first to tell you…

You’ve got this and I believe in you. You have the ability to uplevel your life.   Now, go out and show the world what you are made of, goal getters.

That’s all for today’s dose of motivation.  I hope to have inspired you to grow.

With love,