Choosing Growth

What is your orientation to learning?  What about when it’s hard?

Review the following statements.  Indicate if you AGREE or DISAGREE.

1.     Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.

2.     You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are. AGREE

3.     Not matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it quite a bit. AGREE

4.     You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.

This is Carol Dweck’s work she explored this concept of mindset—fixed and growth. She’s a Stanford psychological and has done decades of research in this area.   Carol is a rock star.

Here is a brief overview of the differences…

Fixed Mindset = Intelligence and talent is fixed at birth

  • “I’m either good at it, or I’m not”
  • feel that my abilities determine everything, my success or lack of it
  • “When I fail, I’m no good”
  • look smart in every situation, prove myself
  • feel threatened by the success of others
  • (NOTE:  If you agreed with statements 1 and 2 above, this is FIXED)

Growth Mindset = Intelligence and talent can be grown and developed

  •  “I can learn anything I want to”
  •  feel that my effort and attitude determine everything
  • “When I fail, I learn”
  • stretch myself, take risks and learn
  • find lessons and inspiration in others’ success
  • (NOTE:  If you agreed with statements 3 and 4 above, this is GROWTH)

The great news is that we can change our mindset.  We can help our brain to create a love of learning and resilience.

For me, this showed up in math….until I challenged this long standing belief.  Deliberately.  In grad school.  While I’m certainly not a math wizard, I am adept and capable.  And I don’t beat myself up over what I know and don’t know about math anymore.

Consider something that you don’t think you’re good at.  Then answer the following questions.

  • What are you not good at?
  • How do you talk to yourself about this belief?
  • Where did the belief originate?
  • Do you have any evidence to the contrary?  (If so, why not choose to belief those examples?)
  • Is it still serving you to believe this, or is it interfering with your leadership effectiveness (i.e., what are the consequences of not changing)?  If so, change it.

Here are some seed of learning around a growth mindset:

1.     Explore and discuss growth and fixed mindset with your team; watch a TED talk or video from Carol Dweck

2.     Challenge yourself and your team to actively identify when you find yourself if a fixed mindset—realize that you can choose a different narrative

3.     Tackle one belief about yourself; take action to learn; find someone who is “good” at that thing and learn from them; reframe your language to be more growth oriented:

  • I am learning to be comfortable with difficult conversations
  • I am becoming a person who addresses challenging discussions


·        Explored growth and fixed mindset; just by knowing this information, you can think and act in new ways
·        Even if we are a good learner, chances are there are limiting beliefs we have
·        Talk about this concept with your team
·        Create a plan to alter a fixed belief you have about yourself