In last weeks’ post I shared with you the fact that I believe the biggest barrier to success and performance improvement is mindset. I also promised you some tips on how to move from a Fixed to a Growth Mindset. Below you will find two sets of tips, one for individuals looking to shift their own mindset and another for leaders looking to help their teams gain a winning mindset. I have focused, in parts, on sales people and sales leaders specifically, but the tips are all easily transferable.
1. Be honest with yourself
If you’re going to shift your mindset, you need to be able to recognise the ‘Fixed Mindset’ signs in your own behaviours and attitudes and that requires you to be completely honest with yourself. Those with a fixed mindset avoid failure, to the extent that they will avoid new challenges and situations, rather than risk failure. They tend to immediately look for someone, or something, else to blame when things go wrong and they rely heavily on their natural ability, rather than focusing improvement and personal growth. (Take a look at my last post for a more extensive list.)
2. Stop making excuses
Fixed mindset individuals are great at making excuses, but not so great when it comes to personal accountability (unless it’s to share and celebrate ‘wins’!). If you’re going to make a change towards a Growth Mindset, you need to take responsibility for your own actions (and inactions). For example, the phrase “I didn’t have time”, common amongst Fixed Mindset people, is not a justifiable reason because, ultimately, you had the choice whether to make the time or not. “So and so never got back to me” is another example – but, of course, you could have chased them. Take some time to reflect back on previous situations, in which a goal wasn’t met, or target not reached and ask yourself, how did you react? Did you blame other people or circumstances? What could you have done differently?
3. Identify weaknesses and areas for growth
Identifying areas where you can improve can come, to some extent, from a bit of honest self-reflection, as I’ve suggested above, but to gain complete and objective feedback, you need to turn to others. This can be done in an official format, such as a 360° survey, or a more informal request. However, a word of caution, Fixed Mindset individuals will tend (whether consciously or not) to lean towards asking the opinion of those who they know are likely to say good things about them – it helps them to avoid looking like they’re failing at anything. Therefore, a more formal approach, such as a 360°, is likely to result in more useful and accurate feedback, particularly if you involve your line manager in selecting respondents.
4. Move out of your comfort zone
You will never develop a Growth Mindset if you’re not prepared to move out of your comfort zone and that means risking failure. Accepting that failure might happen and that you can learn from it, is therefore critical to this process.
5. Set measurable and visible goals
Using clearly defined goals, which have associated actions and deadlines attached to them, is the only way you’re likely to achieve change. Anything less is just a wish and will fall easily to the bottom of your ‘to do’ list every single time. Sharing those goals with others makes the chances of success even greater. As a minimum, share your goals with your immediate line a manger to help drive accountability and completion.
6. Learn from others
The most successful people constantly look at what others around them are doing, learning from both their mistakes and their successes. They recognise that there are always others who are better than them and they take full advantage of this to further their own development. This, however, is a difficult thing for Fixed Mindset people to do, reluctant as they are to admitting to any kind of weakness but if you can move beyond this, it will accelerate your move towards a Growth Mindset.
7. Get started – Learn a new skill
There’s an easy ‘quick win’ way to start your journey towards a Growth Mindset and that’s to learn a new skill, whether it be work or personal-based. Fixed Mindset individuals rarely set about learning new skills, in part because trying something new means risking failure and in part because they allow themselves to be restricted by the limits of their own natural ability. Learning a new skill (remembering to set goals around when and how you will learn this new skill) introduces Fixed Mindset individuals to the idea and practice of moving outside of their comfort zone. Once you’ve done this a few times, you begin to realise it’s not as scary as you thought it was going to be.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll continue to share some practical tips on moving from a Fixed to a Growth Mindset, for both individuals and also for leaders looking to help their teams make this shift.