Amid the daily changes within the world of work, there has never been a better time for employees to cultivate skills that help them better handle the challenges of their workplace.
This is where the idea of the “growth mindset” comes in: the belief that workers are capable of actively improving their skills, rather than being innately able or unable to complete certain tasks.
However, this “can do” mentality can be harder to conquer than it seems. Achieving it means being comfortable accepting obstacles, learning from criticism, and sticking with it when the going gets tough.
Even if we believe that tenacity is worth developing, in practice doubts and fears can dominate.
“We’re hardwired to believe our emotions,” says Elaine Elliott-Moskwa, a Princeton, New Jersey-based psychologist and author of The Growth Mindset Workbook.
“When a person says ‘I feel like I’m not good enough,’ that feeling is very powerful, even if it’s a belief about your abilities.”
At the heart of the growth mindset is learn to overcome those feelings of inadequacy or inadequacy in the face of obstacles and, instead, recognize an opportunity to learn.
And there can be profound benefits to cultivating this approach. Employees with a growth mindset can harness a set of helpful skills to manage stress, build supportive relationships with colleagues, deal with failure, and develop attributes to help them advance in their careers.
What is growth mindset?
The growth mindset first emerged in 1988 as a theory related to education.
“It had to do with why smart kids fail in the face of difficulties despite their abilities real,” says Elliott-Moskwa.
The idea was that students’ attitude to take on a challenge, rather than their innate ability, was a key determinant of success. In other words, our ideas about how capable we are to do something can have a significant impact on the outcome of a task.
Stanford psychologist and professor Carol Dweck boiled this down to two approaches that can determine outcomes: “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset”.
“The fixed mindset is the view that your abilities are high or low, and there’s not much you can do to change it,” explains Elliott-Moskwa, “whereas the growth mindset is the view that your abilities are malleable or changeable.” “.
While some people may naturally lean more to one side than the other, it’s a fact that people don’t have a fixed or growth mindset for all problems.
Rather, approaching a challenge with a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset is a choice anyone can make.
However, for many people moments of difficulty often stimulate a fixed mindset.
For example, says Elliott-Moskwa, when people take criticism from a boss or struggle with a new task, they can feel a sense of inadequacy. In these situations, a fixed-mindset response might be “I’m not good enough” or “I can’t do it,” she says.
In contrast, a growth mindset approach takes a different tack in the same situation.
People with a growth mindset do not interpret these moments as personal failures, but rather They recognize the need to improve.
Crucially, people who work with a growth mindset believe they are capable of improvement and can break down challenges into achievable steps.
This means get out of the comfort zone and accept a certain level of riskuncertainty, and the potential for failure that comes with trying something new.
“It feels a bit uncomfortable and also a bit exciting,” says Isabella Venour, a London-based mindset coach, who helps professionals understand the role their beliefs, values and thought patterns play in the workplace. .
“You have a little risk of it going wrong, but you also have the potential to learn something and grow as an individual.”
Because it is important?
A “can do” approach is an advantage in the workplace: it shows that workers are adaptable and willing to evolve within their jobs and organizations.
But fostering a growth mindset plays an important role in helping workers navigate turbulence and improve resilience as they feel more confident and able to handle difficulties.
This is essential at a time when many employees fight for their well-being after the pandemic.
A 2022 State of the Workforce report from Gallup showed that stress among global workers has risen steadily since the pandemic began in 2020.
A similar global survey by the Wellbeing Project showed that in 2022 resilience is particularly low and the risk of burnout remains, especially among that they are not managers.
“People get stressed out as the pressures of work and life mix together,” says Venour. “Business leaders realize that their employees are struggling to cope with everyday challenges.”
The growth mindset not only provides a framework for meeting challenges, but also a way to break those challenges down into manageable steps.
“Often, if we feel pressured when we don’t have a growth mindset, we tend to focus on what we can’t control,” says Venour. “It’s much more useful to focus on what we can influence.”
This begins when workers identify personal strengths that they can use and then come up with a plan to improve weak areas.
Taking a pragmatic approach can help overcome overwhelm and also help workers set boundaries, something many remote employees are struggling to do.
For example, “if your boss gives you a task that you think is unrealistic, it’s easier to say that you’re not sure about the timing or that you need an extra meeting to get more clarity,” says Venour.
“Because you’re confident in your abilities and you don’t see weaknesses as something to punish yourself for. You’re able to say ‘I need some support here.'”
It is possible to practice the growth mindset individually, but if a company encourages the entire workforce to adopt it, the results can be even more powerful.
“Encourage people to focus on the feedback instead of failuresays Venour. This can help motivate employees to tackle challenging projects and create an integrated learning culture.
Studies suggest this is something most workers want: In a 2022 McKinsey & Company study, 41% of workers said the main reason they would leave a job is lack of career development and advancement.
How can you improve your growth mindset?
The first step in fostering a growth mindset is self-awareness: the ability to identify fixed mindset thinking when it occurs, which often manifests as feelings of discomfort or inadequacy in the face of a challenge.
First, Elliott-Moskwa advises acknowledging and accepting such feelings, rather than punishing yourself for them. “Then make another conscious decision to take an action step in line with what you would be doing if you had a growth mindset: the belief that you could increase your abilities,” she notes.
To help clients tackle obstacles with a growth mindset, Venour often Break down challenges that feel overwhelming into smaller parts.
For example, if a worker feels unable to give a presentation in front of colleagues, “how much of it is emotional and how much of it is factual?” he asks.
“Can you speak? Yes. Have you spoken in front of more than one person before? Yes. Have you done presentation slides before? Yes. do you feel comfortable?”
Reduce an overwhelming challenge to a specific point of difficulty it helps workers focus and reduces the required learning element to an achievable level.
Learning itself often requires asking for help. One of the key concepts of the growth mindset is to see others as inspiration rather than competition, an approach that can help foster collaborative teams.
“If workers see others as resources and not like competitorsthey will be open to sharing other people’s skills and abilities and learning from their co-workers,” says Elliott-Moskwa.
Over time, recognizing the fixed mindset and practicing a growth mindset can become easier, and the prospect of taking on challenges less daunting.
“The growth mindset is an attitude of empowerment,” says Venour. “You can really develop and over time grow as a person.”
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