Think of your mind as a device such as a smartphone that you can control. In a way, it is. You can make adjustments to your device settings — choose ringtones, adjust the volume, block unwanted callers. You can also adjust the settings you’ve made in your mind.
Throughout life you’ve learned to tell yourself what you think you can and cannot do. “I can handle that.” “I’m really good at managing people.” “Nobody can beat me at table tennis.” And likewise, “I’m not smart enough to be [your dream job].” “I don’t have enough musical talent to play the French horn.” “I’ll never be an Olympic high diver.”
The “can” settings, obviously, help you succeed. It’s the “cannot” settings that need to change in order to achieve success.
Some of your cannot settings may be accurate. But most, I suggest, arise from fear of failure, limits you’ve heard others place on your abilities, or from a variety of other discouraging forces.
I’m here to tell you that if you practice building a Success Mindset among your leaders, you will see improved performance. Let me put it the other way. Unless you embrace a Success Mindset, you and your organization will not move forward.
Allow me offer you three settings you can change right now. Hold vs. Grow, Obstacle vs. Opportunity, and Rules vs. Risk. The NeuroLeadership Institute recently published a report on the first setting, Transforming Performance Management with a Growth Mindset Approach. I’ve incorporated a few of their findings below under Hold vs. Grow.
The second and third settings follow logically from the first and can help secure the Growth Mindset firmly into your business culture.
From the great work of Carol Tweck:
A hold mindset, the opposite of a grow mindset, tells you that you have certain skills and abilities and that’s that. As Popeye the Sailor says, “I yam what I yam, and dat’s all what I yam.”
A grow mindset tells you that no matter the level of your current abilities, you can and will improve if you try. You can experiment. In fact you can raise your IQ, you can develop skills you previously thought were inborn and bestowed only on a talented few. You can get better at anything.
The NeuroLeadership Institute research I’ve cited concludes that, “The human brain reacts differently to feedback when in a state of growth mindset, because it encourages a person’s openness to and integration of feedback and increases their intrinsic motivation to learn and perform.”
Their research shows that managers with a growth mindset perform better at performance evaluators, and companies with a culture of growth mindset enjoy greater team collaboration.
A grow mindset allows you to see opportunities where before you saw only obstacles. If you believe you can grow, you move forward, and when you see an obstacle, you think, “I can handle that. Let me figure out how. Maybe I need some guidance. Who can I enlist to help me learn?”
If you don’t put your mind on its Opportunity setting, you’ll never even get to “Let me figure out how.”
When you learn what is required of you to seize an opportunity, you’re sure to confront change. Change normally presents risk. You usually face giving up the comfortable status quo for the unknown.
That’s when your risk-on setting helps you swallow hard, take a deep breath, and say, “I’ll take a chance.” Or to your team, “Let’s try it and see what happens.”
Taking risks asks you to leave your comfort zone, trust your intuition, and go with your gut. You simply can’t do this when your mindset prods you to dwell on past failures and mistakes. Risk runs the real chance of failure, but failure turns out to be the best teacher and character builder I know.
Next time, I write about Failure — the heartbeat of success.
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