Growth mindset needs practice. Leaders, here are 10 practices you can integrate for yourself.
1. Make a real switch:
Build your growth mindset muscles. Flex them each day. Make a list of your triggers. They could be situations, phrases or people:
- I overeat when I am anxious.
- Being with my boss triggers my perfection.
- A particular peer makes me feel small and so I get defensive.
- Superiority in others makes me competitive.
Knowing our limiting beliefs and our feelings helps us ask ourselves ‘Is there another way to do this’. I love Katie Byrons’s The Work, and the questions she poses. Check it out here.
2. Learn to measure:
Calibration means we look closely. We do not gloss over our actions. Measuring our change gives us great data and feedback that can further our growth. Not calibrating furthers our denial and blindness. We move slower towards our goal.
Another aspect of measurement is to have realistic timelines. Unrealistic expectations of speed and outcomes puts us under pressure which aids a fixed mindset. We create a plan that is set up to fail.
3. Seek feedback:
We all need open feedback whatever be our stage in life and leadership. Getting a bit more bold to seek it can help you become aware of the blindspots. Seek it from people who you may not typically ask and you might find some fantastic areas to work on yourself.
I encourage leaders to ask spouses, friends, peers and bosses:
- What do they see as their strengths?
- Where can they change and how?
- What can they be trusted for in their relationship?
- Where they cannot be trusted for?
Tough and provoking questions yield rich data for growth. Working on these responses is about serving our growth mindset.
4. Grow an ‘options mentality’:
Growth mindset is not about being stupidly positive. It is about realistic options too.
Reaching an outcome needs a strategy and a plan that works with your life and circumstances. Help yourself by examining your current approach. Talk to more people, work with a coach and learn by observing others’ approach. Use all possible resources you have for a better plan. Ask:
- What is this failure showing me?
- What else am I learning about new ways of approaching this
- Who else can be supportive of the change I wish for
5. A Journal for Clarity:
The benefits are many
- It helps us reflect and pause.
- We track our thinking and feeling patterns.
- We join the dots on limiting beliefs.
- We stay reflective of our values.
- We see triggers easily.
6. Recognize your efforts and focus on outcomes:
Praising and giving positive strokes to oneself is important. It keeps us practising self affirming language. This is an important aspect of confidence. However, a growth mindset is not only about effort. Knowing and taking our outcomes seriously is what helps us change plans and strategy. Focus on our outcomes keeps us on track checking our actions.
7. Say, I don’t YET know how to do this’:
I learnt this from how my husband talks to my daughter. She has learning needs that challenge her. Sometimes she gets diffident and frustrated by her efforts. He encourages her to say ‘I am not great at this yet’ and lifts her mood.
We all wish to believe in our potential. We thrive when we are hopeful. We feel encouraged to be on a learning journey. This is at the heart of the growth mindset as we stop chastising ourselves. This is especially valid when we are struggling to be good at something.
8. Self compassion and kindness:
Leaders also have an inner critic that says ‘you are not good enough’, ‘failing is your fault’, and much more unforgiving inner chatter. This impacts our capacity to see our humanness and our mistakes as normal. Kristin Neff’s self compassion scale and her ideas are so appealing to me. It invites a deeper connection to caring for ourselves, which moves us towards growth mindset.
9. Work on your resilience:
Facing tough winds and walking on by taking care of ourselves is vital. We recently learnt this during COVID. Those of us who lead need to have a strong practice to build resilience.
Resilience includes pausing, reviewing, rest and renewal. When we are weak, ill, or beaten down, it is tough to feel anchored in our growth mindset. Our resilience helps us say ‘It’s okay, let me try again.’
10. Create your abundance mantra:
Affirmations and mantras are self instructions, self appreciations and strength, given all at once. I’m sharing here some of those that my clients love. You will find many more in my book Step Up.
- I can learn with small steps
- As I walk the path appears for me
- No pain, no gain
- I am learning each day
- I start from where I am
Update your mantras every few months depending on the challenges you face.
Adopt these and see your self mastery journey gain strength. What of these appeal to you? Anything you can add to this?