Could growth mind-set be the magic tool your organisation needs?

dreamstime_xl_53439061Last night I went to my son’s parents evening. He is nearly 17 and studying his A levels. Nothing unusual about that. He is doing well, although we all agreed he does need to put in some more effort now that he has moved up a level; again nothing unusual about that from a 17 year old. The difficulty is while he was doing his GCSE exams at 16 he found much of the work relatively easy. It came to him without too much effort and people felt he was a very able student. But now that he has moved up to the next level he has found it much harder. He is now having to work hard as his friends did previously. Fortunately, he has accepted this and is now looking at how he learns best and what he needs to do to keep trying in order to achieve.

But it could be so different. It is not uncommon for students who have previously found things easy to get stuck when they discover they are not as able as they previously believed, and they are faced with the possibility that they may fail. They can decide to opt out, feeling it is somehow better to not try rather than to try and potentially fail as this could make them look stupid or not as able as they had previously been seen to be. This is a fixed mind-set.

It’s clear that mind-set is a powerful thing.

But what do we really mean by mind-set? Well, mind-set is an established set of attitudes held by someone about something or an area of their ability.

For example, I may have the attitude that as I once tried windsurfing at 16 and I wasn’t very good, that I don’t have the ability to do it. Therefore if someone suggests going windsurfing I have a fixed mind-set about my ability to do it and say “No thanks, I’m no good at windsurfing.,” whereas if I have an open mind-set I would say “Mmm, windsurfing. I tried that once. It didn’t go so well, but if someone teaches me I’ll try it again.” I may find I can do it this time.

A fixed mind-set

People with a fixed mind-set will tell themselves they are no good at something to avoid challenge, failure or looking dumb – it holds them back from achieving. If you have a fixed mind-set, you perceive your talent and intelligence is what it is.

An open mind-set

Those with an open mind-set understand that our abilities, talents and intelligence can be developed through effort, practice and trying. It also accepts that sometimes they may fail, but by learning from failure and trying again with the new found information, experience and examples you can grow and move forward.

Don’t allow others to tell you that you can’t when you are yet to try – if you decide to change your mind-set put the effort in you can achieve.

How can this growth mind-set help your organisation to grow?

If you encourage staff to work together with an open mind-set it will enable them to see that failure is an opportunity to improve. That by trying things and accepting they may not be right first time and that it is not necessary to blame others, but to use the experience to learn from and gain new ideas and new experiences they can move forward. This in turn will help your organisation to move forward and grow.

Changing your individual and team mind-set or an organisational mind-set requires a learning environment such as we see within a learning organisation. In this way we look to learn from mistakes and grow together. Think about what you can do to deliver even more to your clients if only you and your team believe they can.

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