To begin with a quick recap of what we discovered already. So, there are two kinds of mindsets. Either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Those with the fixed mindset believe that their talents or skills or personality or intelligence is static. This leads to a desire to look smart and therefore a tendency to avoid challenges, get defensive or give up easily. They see efforts as fruitless or worse. They ignore useful negative feedback. They feel threatened by success of others. As a result, they may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential.
Those with the growth mindset believe that their talents or skills or personality or intelligence can be developed. This leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks. They see efforts as path to mastery. They learn from criticism and find lessons and inspirations in success of others. As a result, they reach ever higher levels of achievements.
Both mindsets are formed from very early ages of our lives and get strongly shaped. And then they impact our decisions, actions, outcomes heavily.
And now, diving into the final part of the mindset series and the most awaited question, how to change mindsets?
Well, you would be surprised, its not me, it’s you who is going to change your mindset. You are the one who is going to do it. How, I am going to show you.
The basic fork on the road is being Away from reality. When you have the fixed mindset, you don’t know that you have the fixed mindset. Because your mind tells you so many other reasons to believe. And that keeps you away from moving towards the growth mindset.
The process to change mindset is not that complex. However, I agree it’s easier said than done. So, I call it the 4 As.
- Acceptance- The first step towards your growth would be to accept and admit and embrace the fixed mindset you may have. We all have it for something or the other. There’s nothing wrong in it. When we accept that, we can better monitor and change it.
- Awareness- Next step is to find out what triggers your fixed mindset. Is it when there’s a new challenge? Is it when you are trying to do something and failing? Is it when you have lost something? A job or a relationship? Is it when you find a strong competition to yourself? Figure out, in which situation do you find yourself dealing with fixed mindset. That’s your trigger.
- Addressing – Lets address the fixed mindset persona. You could call it XYZ, a cartoon character, a movie name or somebody you adore or absolutely dislike. That’s your decision. How this helps is, it helps you drive the situation better when you are in fixed mindset the next time. For the sake of this example lets assume your fixed mindset persona is named Johnny – from the nursery rhyme Johnny Johnny yes papa! Now next time you have Johnny appear when you face a new challenge or when you fail at something or loose something or whatever, you can simply say, Hey Johnny, I knew you would show up!
- Acquiring Knowledge and Educating – Now, this is the big game changer. You already know that you have certain fixed mindsets, you found out what triggers it and you have even named it. Now you must educate it. This Johnny needs your help. When you know, you are going to do something where Johnny might show up to warn or stop you, just talk to Johnny and say, it may or may not work out, but could you please bear with me for this? Now, remember, you don’t have to suppress r ban this persona. You just must talk to it to cooperate with you to try something that you are about to. Baby steps! Now, what Johnny is trying to do is to protect you and keep you safe. But its ways are limited. So, all you must do is expand Johnny’s horizons by educating it. It’s a very gradual process and continuous.
Let’s see how this works. I am going to share few situations with you, please retrospect for yourself at which stage are you when this happens with you.
- Imagine you applied to the school or university or the job that you most desire. You had your heart set on it. You were confident that you would get selected, get accepted. But you got rejected. So, let’s see how you would react to this. You might feel it was super competitive so its okay. This isn’t about you. Or maybe they had way too many more great applicants than they could accept. Then, a tiny voice inside your head would start with may be your work wasn’t great, maybe you don’t deserve this. Maybe you aren’t worth it. Now my question to you is, would you stop at this? Would you let the Fixed mindset win over you? Or would you go towards the next step – which is to question, what exactly is your goal and what to do to achieve it? How about talking to yourself in the lines of – Should I have applied in more places? Let’s see what makes a great application. What exactly are the selecting committee looking for? Let’s give it another try. And Tada, there you are thinking with growth mindset. You just need to give yourself a little push when you get stuck with the fixed mindset.
- Imagine you feel stuck in your job. You feel you are doing this low-level job whereas you feel you belong with the big guys. You want to enjoy life. Whereas in this job of yours, your boss neither gives you better responsibilities nor promotions. How would you feel about it? My boss is threatened by me. My boss knows I belong in the superior positions. Why should I change? I know I am awesome! I should leave this place and find a place where I truly belong. Now let’s try and apply the 4As towards Growth mindset here. Let’s accept that there could be a way out from this situation. Maybe I am not seeing the whole picture. Because I am used to liking the feeling of superiority may be that’s triggering the fixed mindset in me. Hey, that’s Johnny that shows up and doesn’t let me do my job well. And maybe that’s why my boss doesn’t appreciate the performance and doesn’t promote me. Maybe I need to do better. What can I do to improve my situation? How can I work better? May be effort is necessary. Maybe I should try and learn and do my work better. And bingo! There you are with the growth mindset approach already.
- Imagine you have this perfect life with a great career, a beautiful house, lovely kids and a great partner and some devoted quality friends. You didn’t see it coming but your marriage is falling apart. You had the signs, but you missed them. And now your partner is emotional disengaged from the marriage. You would want to blame your partner or the situation or the timing or any third factor. Because that’s easier. Because that’s what your fixed mindset would want you to do. So, lets look at it with slightly more acceptance. Maybe we could have done some things better. Maybe I still can. Let’s see what can we do? It’s true I have been emotionally unavailable multiple times for my partner. So, I think that has been what I did wrong. And Johnny would surely want to try and stop you from making efforts, and you must ask Johnny to wait and show up with a sweet gesture for your partner. And that’s the start of effort. An effort that could save your marriage.
- Imagine any situation that makes you angry. Think of a time when you experienced failure or criticism or disagreements or couldn’t meet deadlines.
In all these situations you might find yourself getting stuck with the fixed mindset. You might be seeking comfort and validation for the way you are. But that wont necessarily solve your problems. What will? You need to look for the solution, right? So, you must accept that Johnny is taking the better of you. Talk to Johnny to stay on the side for a bit while you face the situation and try. Its okay to fail, but what if you succeed? It needs for you to be aware of how you are thinking. And to have better control over your thoughts. To put on the brakes when you are drifting towards the fixed mindset.
Now, I think you know what you must do right? The power lies in your hands. If you want to keep growing and reaching new heights daily, you need to reach for the growth mindset. Baby steps. Gradually but continuously.