The psychological attitude we show towards something is what we call mindset. This attitude defines almost from the get-go whether we will succeed or not at something. If having the right attitude can have such a great impact in our results, then it would be just logical for you to understand what's the attitude that you need. Actually, it looks like a no-brainer to me.
I've always been inclined to learn about languages, communication, psychology, behavior, interpersonal skills, that kind of thing. Anything related to math, physics, finances, business, economy never came as a natural talent to me, so I stayed clear of those.
The belief that your abilities in any domain can be developed through dedication and hard work is the definition of Growth Mindset. Brains and talent are just the starting point, not a pivotal one. This belief is domain-specific, like music, art, cooking, technology, a particular client. In my case, communication is the area I've always felt I can become better at.
The opposite is Fixed Mindset. You believe that you're not inherently or innately good or bad in any particular domain.
Luckily, no one has a generalized growth mindset or fixed mindset. What's really important is that that belief has an enormous impact. Are you inherently innately good or bad in a domain?
A fixed mindset is the belief that in a particular domain you're not innately good at it. For example, math and finances, for me. But it could be that I never got the chance to learn about it in a playful manner, take notice of little improvements, so I've just believed that I'm not a math person, so I decided from those experiences, I'm not a math person. From that belief, I thought I can't change much, because I'm not innately good. So I never put much effort.
I didn't like hearing feedback about it, so I avoided it at all costs or just said, well, I'm just not good at it. Therefore, I never set myself challenging goal in this area, afraid of failing miserably. And that's a big problem because having stretch goals is where you get the most learning from. If I worked with someone who was really good at math, I became less confident, instead of seeing this person as a positive role model.
We are not innately good
We can't change much
Effort will not help
Feedback is dangerous
Stretch goals are bad
Other people’s success is a problem
Now think about this: imagine you're trying to make someone like me better at math and finances, but they have a fixed mindset about this topic. Giving them a mentor won't help, giving them feedback won't help either, giving them a training course, no good, giving them a positive role model, even worse.
Nothing really works, if they have a fixed mindset. So the mindset we have is upstream from all kinds of interventions we want to do with people. There's almost no point trying to help someone who has a fixed mindset in a domain. This is a very important insight.
On the other hand, growth mindset is the belief that we can get better, that we can change. It takes effort, it takes feedback, and stretch goals are good. Others' success is a chance to actually learn. So whether it's math, finances, working from home, dealing with change, being a people person or being customer focused, whatever it is... this intrinsic belief that you know with effort you can improve is the core of the message.
We can get better
We can change
Effort is central
Feedback is helpful
Stretch goals are good
Others’ success is an opportunity to learn
Is it about proving yourself or improving yourself?
Is it about looking good or getting better?
Which is the focus you are going to choose?
This is the heart of the idea.
Basically, you're always either trying to prove that you're good because you think you're innately not good but trying to look good, or you're willing to take risks, and improve yourself and get better because you genuinely believe you can get better.
So you're willing to actually improve, rather than prove. If you think you can't get better, you just try to prove. But if you think you can get better, you try to improve, and actually do get better. That the approach in a nutshell.
Now, what can you do about this? The first step is to notice and shift. This is what you need to do to change in any particular domain from a fixed to a growth mindset.
So when you notice yourself, or someone else, saying, I'm not good at this technology thing, I don't think I can deal with this much uncertainty, or this isn't easy for me to be working in a hybrid environment, there's a very simple thing you can do: just add the word YET. I don't think I'm good at this technology thing yet. I don't think I can juggle all this yet. It isn't easy for me yet. And as we say that to ourselves, we shift everything about how we function.
That's what I did with my math and finances challenge. I decided to enroll in an online eMBA to get better in those areas I felt I wanted to to improve in. It's been challenging, I've had to dedicate time to learn, and you know what? I'm a lot better that I thought! Am I an ace in that domain? No, at least not yet. But that's not the point. I just need to compare myself with where I was 6 months ago, a year ago. I have improved and I have learned. When you look at it like that, it's actually fun to challenge yourself and learn.
Do you need to become better at everything? Absolutely not. There are some things that just don't matter. Do I need to learn how to ski even though I start freezing whenever it gets below 10°C? No, I find nothing appealing in falling down and having cold feet all day to put in the effort to learn. At least for now... If my living situation changes and, who knows, I move south of the Alps to live in the mountains, then learning to ski will become a critical skill and I know for sure I will give it a try.