We are quickly closing in on the end of our re-read of Mindset. I anticipate two more weeks (Chapter 8 and a round up). The next book in the series will be Holacracy. After my recent interview with Jeff Dalton on Software Process and Measurement Cast 433, I realized that I had only read extracts from Holacracy by Brian J. Robertson, therefore we will read (first time for me).
Today, we review Chapter 7 in Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (buy your copy and read along). Chapter 7, titled “Parents, Teachers, Coaches: Where Do Mindsets Come From? explores the impact of some of the most intimate and earliest relationships on our mindsets.Understanding how parents, teachers, and coaches affect mindsets helps us learn to lead change.
Dweck begins Chapter 7 by reinforcing the concept that parents learn very early, every word and action send a message. The rubber hits the road when that message gets interpreted by the recipient. As we established earlier in the book, those with a fixed mindset interpret any message as a judgment. Those with a growth mindset will interpret words and actions as feedback that can be used to become better and that the person that is sending the message is interested in their development.
Messages that focus on the outcome rather than the journey tend to have a very short-term impact. These types of message provide a quick shot of adrenalin. A number of years ago, my wife, eldest daughter and I walked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It was a difficult hike and provided us an opportunity to contemplate the world and our place in the world. As we toured Machu Picchu at the end of the hike we ran into people that had simply taken the train and could not understand why we had spent the time and effort on the walk. In our minds, the journey was integral to the whole experience rather than just jumping on and off a train. The realization that the journey important is a part of the learning process defines a person with a growth. Parents and teachers should send the message that the journey is important by praising both efforts and achievements. A simple message that skills and achievement come through commitment and effort impacts the individual the message is targeted toward and those around them. All messages once sent are heard and passed on. Anyone in the teacher, parent, or coach role must continually is if the message being sent is to judge, punish or to help the recipient think and learn.
Much of the chapter is focused on what makes a great teacher, parent or coach. One of the primary messages Dweck sends in this chapter is that parents and teachers must believe (and send the message) that effort is required to learn and grow. Talent is not innate, but learned and honed. Parents and teachers need to establish high standards, provide a nurturing environment and the tools to learn. Teachers, parents, and coaches with a growth mindset tell the truth about the learner’s gaps in performance and then provide them with the tools to overcome that gaps. The gaps in performance do not define the person because the assumption is that they will continual to learn and grow.
Organizational Transformation: Messaging is an important part of all transformations. The message that frames the transformation has to truthfully identify gaps and performance and the tools that will be deployed to close those gaps. The tone needs to highlight the growth that effort and the journey will bring to the organization. In any longer term transformation effort will require continual messaging, the same tone needs to be leveraged as progress is made.
Team Coaching: The advice in this chapter can be applied at the team level. Team coaches have to approach helping teams with a growth mindset. Coaches need to assess the teams they work with, share performance gaps, help to envision a better future state and then provide the support and tools needed to grow. Coaches without a growth mindset rarely will be able to generate a nurturing environment that will convince team members that they are not be judged and graded which will reinforce fixed mindsets.
Previous Entries of the re-read of Mindset: