We are firm believers in the mindset and more especially the growth mindset.
For those we coach, mentor and work with, who have recently left an academic institution or full-time education, we see much more cases of a 'fixed mindset'. They seem to be firmly of the belief that the mindset cannot change. You can see that when you ask them the definition of 'intelligence'. To them, it seems to mean only one thing - 'academic intelligence'. This is so not true.
Intelligence means more than you think
Take a look at what the definition of 'intelligence' is, as taken straight from the internet:
"The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. Intellectual/mental capacity, intellect, mind, brain, brainpower, powers of reasoning, judgement, reason, reasoning, understanding, comprehension, acumen, wit, sense, insight, perceptiveness, perception, perspicaciousness, discernment, sharpness, quickness of mind, quick-wittedness, smartness, canniness, astuteness, intuition, acuity, alertness, cleverness, brilliance, aptness, ability, giftedness, talent."
You can see it means many different things. So it is important not to get stuck in the straitjacket of institutional indoctrination/thinking about intelligence which can be a problem at an early age and which can stay with you throughout your life. For some it can impact their self-esteem badly. When you reflect on the above definitions, I think you would agree that we all have quite a large number of these traits in us (even if we did badly at school), but we do not always realise it. We are all intelligent in our own ways. Interestingly, what we have seen is that we rarely see a 'fixed mindset' when working with the extreme adventurers. I wonder why that is?
You Are Profoundly Negative
Did you know that only one in five thoughts is a positive thought? Hmmm! So there can be a tendency for us to be profoundly negative. Or some would say that we are still wired for 'fight or flight' and on the look out for the sabre-toothed tiger to appear around the corner any second to try and kills us. Better to be realistic and cautious and than an idealist and optimistic some would say. It takes an effort to be positive and it takes experience to be realistic.
The Chimp Inside You
We can see this fixed or negative mindset, especially when it comes to physical activity. The negative mindset or what Steve Peters calls the 'Chimp' in his book, 'The Chimp Paradox' is very quick to tell our mind to stop, for instance, when the body starts feeling tired or when you are exerting yourself. So you have to have the strength of mind to overcome this negative thought and caution, and turn it into a positive thought and action.
Find that Grit and Resilience
Carol Dweck would say that "the growth mindset has something to do with motivation, and there is an element of grit mixed into the equation, too". Professional athletes and extreme adventurers are particularly good at crossing that so-called 'red line' and operating in the zone of pain which the mind hates. They can master or control that chimp/profoundly negative mindset and be able to motivate themselves to new limits. However, it does take effort (hard work), training, grit and resilience. We have been testing resilience for some time now and collecting large amount of data on grit and resilience from the people we work with. We are starting to see a pattern emerging, where people are reluctant to take on what we call the 'Challenge'.
Resilience - Take on the Challenge
One part of resilience is the ability to face a 'challenge'. 'Challenge' involves seeing change and new experiences as exciting opportunities to learn and develop. Resilient people view a difficulty as a challenge, not as a paralysing event. You must look at failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from and as opportunities for growth. Do not view them as a negative reflection on abilities or self-worth. Do not be afraid to try new things. See my insight on Resilience if you want to learn more.
Use Deliberate Practice to get there
Carol Dweck is the doyen of the Mindset (see the link to the article below about the Fixed and Growth Mindset). If you want to learn to overcome the chimp inside you (then read Steve Peter's book - The Chimp Paradox) and you will be able to go on and achieve great things. However, it will take a growth mindset, harnessing the negative chimp and some purposeful 'Deliberate Practice' to do that.
So what is purposeful Deliberate Practice?
- Have clear, well-defined strategic goals
- Have a plan for reaching those goals
- Do it in a focused way
- Have a way to monitor progress and receive feedback
- Get outside your comfort zone
Click on my insight 'Why are some people so amazingly good at what they do?', if you want to learn more about 'Deliberate Practice', or else read 'Peak' by Professor Anders Ericsson. You will recognise large parts of it, because Malcolm Gladwell took Anders's research and coined the 10,000 hours phrase in his book 'Outliers' which we are all familiar with now.
Remember, everything is possible, but it is about believing it is possible, having a clear objective, a good strategy, then executing it and not being shackled by negativity, fear and cynicism.
In businesses, leaders who invest in training and development for employees and teams promote a growth mindset; those who do not are subtly saying, you either know it, or you don’t.