What sort of mindset do you adopt when you come up against obstacles or difficulties?

Growth mindset in boy
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Emma Sue Prince
Director
Unimenta
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Emma Sue Prince is the founder of Unimenta, a free resource for practitioners delivering experiential learning or soft skills. Join them today. Let’s face it - we are all overwhelmed with information these days coming at us from every angle. From morning to night we are all suffering from a massive dose of information be that through constant email checking, being online without a break and posting, posting, posting on social media sites. It distracts us and can make us less effective when it comes to doing research or finishing a key project or even having a conversation.

What sort of mindset do you adopt when you come up against obstacles or difficulties? Answering this question can be the source of a huge burst and boost of energy that allows you to feel positive and relaxed about anything you might be facing. Sound too good to be true?

It’s not. Mindset is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford university psychologist Carole Dweck, a leading researcher in the field of motivation through her decades of research on achievement and success. And it’s a simple idea that makes all the difference.

How you interpret challenges, setbacks, and criticism is your choice. You can interpret them in a fixed mindset as signs that your fixed talents or abilities are lacking.

Or you can interpret them in a growth mindset as signs that you need to ramp up your strategies and effort, stretch yourself, and expand your abilities. It’s up to you.

In a fixed mindset you may believe that your basic qualities, like intelligence or talent, are fixed traits. In a growth mindset you believe that your most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work and that brains and talent are just the starting point.

So this view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is crucial for great accomplishment. 

What sort of mindset do you have?

Try to answer these as quickly as you can:

  1. Do you believe that you’re born with a certain amount of intelligence that can’t be changed?
  2. Do you believe that intelligence can increase or decrease depending on whether or not you spend time exercising your mind?
  3. Do you believe that you can learn new things but you can’t necessarily change your underlying level of intelligence or do you believe that learning new things can actually increase your underlying intelligence?
  4. Is talent something you’re born with or something you can develop?
  5. Do you think that if you practise something for long enough you can in fact develop a talent for it?
  6. Do you believe that people with a particularly strong skill were born with a higher level of natural ability?

(From Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck)

You may never have asked yourself these sorts of questions before and you may even be surprised by some of your (limiting) beliefs.

There have been big recent developments and insights into our brains that show over and over again that neuroplasticity does exist and we are able to grow new brain cells throughout our lives.

One of the strongest findings in neuroplasticity is that attention and how we use attention is dramatic in its ability to physically alter the brain and enlarge functional circuits.

What this means is that if we focus and give attention to a new skill or activity or into solving a problem or setback, this is more likely to boost processing speeds and expand and even create functional networks in our brains.

I think this can also mean that we are also capable of operating far below our optimum level simply because we give up too easily and tell ourselves that we “can’t” do something, for whatever reason.

Sadly, too often those around us will collude in feeding that belief.

Next time you are faced with a new problem to solve, a new skill to learn or an annoying setback choose to adopt a growth mindset and see what happens!

The Advantage is a two-day experiential learning workshop designed to raise awareness of adaptability, critical thinking, empathy, integrity, optimism, being proactive and resilience. Questioning assumptions and unconscious bias is a key component of critical thinking. The Advantage is being delivered to a range of clients – from the NHS to youth offending teams and senior managers.

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28th Jun 2017 11:28

Spot on, Emma Sue. If you believe you can't, you can't and vice versa. Mindset is extremely important in managing people. If you believe they are lazy or unmotivated, they will become lazy and unmotivated. If you believe they all can be Superstars at what they do, then you have a good chance of being able to unleash their Superstardom.

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