Embracing a Growth Mindset

Resilience. Fatigue. 

Do you feel it? 

Let’s take a moment to appreciate how hard this ALL is. We are constantly adjusting our schedules, our expectations, our reality. At work and at home we’re managing so many shifting tides it’s hard to stay afloat. We’re facing hard truths and adapting to difficult circumstances. Throw some Fall 2020 Back to School stress in there for good measure and well, wow — it’s pretty intense right now. We see you, because we are you. 

Resilience has a cap, right!? We’ve hit it!  

While giving ourselves grace (add extra scoops right now), let’s talk mindset. And before you cringe or roll your eyes or cry from one more thing to learn, hang with me for just a moment... 

Why do some of us feel so defeated in the face of challenges, while others seem to rebound so easily? As Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

Reframing your attitude toward a growth mindset can be a powerful force for change — and one we can individually harness and manage. Interest piqued? Something we can control!? Yes! Let’s keep going...

So, what is a growth mindset?

American psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset after studying children’s attitudes about failure. Dr. Dweck found that an individual’s mindset plays a significant role in their success, and most notably — that we are actually able to change our own mindsets.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work — brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Research shows that one way to be more successful in every avenue of life is to embrace a growth mindset or simply put, to focus on how we think about our abilities.

Understanding the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had any of the following thoughts:

  • I am not good at math, or at being a math teacher. I can barely count without using my fingers.
  • Working from home means I never stop working.
  • I am terrible at communicating my strengths in interviews.
  • I’m too busy/overwhelmed/old to learn this new technology.
  • There is no way I can do [insert any new task]. It’s just not my thing.

These are the thoughts of a fixed mindset - the idea that you have a fixed set of skills and abilities. And we are here to tell you, sis, that’s simply not true. So, let’s try this again:

  • I am not a math teacher, but I can learn more about this topic.
  • My working from home schedule isn’t working for me. I can empower myself to figure out a schedule that will.
  • I can practice my interview talking points until I am confident and comfortable talking about my strengths. 
  • Learning this new technology will take time, but it is important for me to dedicate some time to my own growth.
  • This [new task] seems daunting. With enough practice I can become better at it though.

Embracing a growth mindset

A growth mindset isn’t magic. 

 It is the belief that we can develop and improve our basic abilities through effort and experience, that we are in control of our own abilities, and that we can learn new things. In order to master anything new though, we need to apply energy to it - whether that be mental, physical, or simple repetition.

You, for example, may believe you are inherently a terrible presenter. But what happens if you choose to reframe that and instead focus on it this way: “Presenting can be a challenge. If I prepare and practice multiple times I can improve my presentation skills and make a better impression.” Yes, it is work, hard work, but work that is rewarding. It is work that helps us grow, improving ourselves in important ways, along the path to create a life we want. 

Instead of thinking “How did I do?” ask, “What can I do better next time?” The first question is about how you are perceived (fixed skills) while the second is about how you can learn (growth mindset). 

Invest your precious time and energy toward developing a mindset that serves you and propels you forward in whatever you may need to face. Whether it be in your career, or job searching or simply (ha!) weathering another twist or turn in this pandemic, YOU are powerful and YOU can do hard things. You already are, so why not cut yourself some slack and believe you can learn that thing, do that thing, be that thing, run that thing, all the things.

We may be experiencing resilience fatigue, friends — but we are going to come out of this better than ever before, and it’s going to be because we grow through it, together. 

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