Mindset is an attitude. It’s like a lens through which we live. If we go about life with a negative mindset, it follows that we feel negative emotions.
Consider some of the personalities in your workplace and life. Who are the types who always seem to get ahead: Is it the risk-takers or the people who quietly and reliably go about their duties? Is it the person who invites change, or the person who is bright but rests on their laurels?
The person who proclaims themselves an utter failure after receiving poor feedback on a project is the one demonstrating a fixed mindset, and may avoid future projects and situations where they feel measured. Meanwhile, the person with a “growth mindset” looks forward to evaluation as it shows them where to focus their energy for next time.
In her book Mindset, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., discusses the link between our mindset and ability to achieve. One of her key ideas is that in order to keep achieving, it’s important to cultivate a ‘growth mindset’. This way of thinking assumes that nothing is static. We can improve our talents and intelligence through effort and dedication.
Conversely, people with a fixed mindset don’t have this flexibility of thought. They think that what they have is their lot, the end, so to speak. The fixed mindset is a self-defeating attitude because it excuses poor performance on a lack of fixed ability.
Dweck recommends thinking about how you handle criticism, exploring all channels, for professional development, and try to see others as an opportunity for growth rather than people who threaten your status.
As a manager, you can foster talent by encouraging a growth mindset in employees. It can start with a simple welcoming of contributions and suggestions, allowing everyone to have a voice.
Switching mindset is not necessarily easy. Your attitudes are a culmination of all that you have experienced, your history, personality and self-esteem all in one. If low self-esteem is keeping you in a negative state, make an action plan to work on it.
Think about how much you can develop as a person by changing your mental filters. The choice is yours. Once you start taking responsibility for how you are feeling and stop seeking approval from outside, you will feel a lot more empowered.
Through changing your mindset, you learn to phrase and approach your goals differently. When you can start to see problems as challenges, you know you are on the right track.
You can find out more about Carol Dweck and her research here:
This ten minute TED talk is highly inspirational.
The Mindset website includes a short quiz to assess your current mindset.
Dweck, C.S. Mindset. (2006). Mindset. New York: Ballantine Books.