For the second week family obligations have interrupted by writing.  We are featuring a repost of the conclusion of Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.  I am still working with shortlists (chapter 2 has helped my implementation approach but meetings (part of the busyness fallacy discussed in Chapter 2) is making using panorama cues and session difficult after 9  or 10 am every workday. We will be back with new content next week with two articles on prioritization and Chapter 2 of Monotasking on Saturday.

Mindset Re-Read Wrap-up

My big takeaway from the book is how to recognize mindsets and then how to use mindsets as a tool to help coach and lead organizations to deliver more value. One of the powerful aspects of the book is the examples.  The examples are helpful to provide analogies that can be used as a yardstick to aid recognition and reaction.  As a coach mindsets give me a tool to help predict, understand and guide behavior.

Nearly everyone that I have discussed the book with finds the concept of mindset useful as a tool.  However, there are those that suggest that the concept is pseudo-science / popular psychology, and can’t be relied on as an absolute. A quick literature search will unearth an undercurrent of articles that question the science underlying the concept of mindsets. The one argument that resonates with me is that concepts are very difficult to test in a controlled manner (there are too many variables to account for).  The negative articles are offset by equally weighty articles in support of the science behind mindsets.  Because the literature is unsettled I would suggest that practitioners approach mindsets less as settled fact, but rather as a tool whose results need to be evaluated based on context rather blindly accepted.  Even if the science was less contentious, most coaches are not trained psychologists, our evaluations can be colored by our own interpretations and personal baskets, therefore, used cautiously. 

As an experiment as we wrap up the re-read, I would like to challenge the readers of this blog to see if they can shift their mindset to be even more growth-oriented (you would not be reading this column if you had an extreme version of a fixed mindset).  

Try taking the following steps:

  1. Stop justifying and rationalizing outcomes or behaviors that don’t meet your expeditions.  Step back, work harder, practice more and try new behaviors.
  2. Expand your circle of influence.  I once read a book that suggested that you never eat lunch alone and that you eat lunch with someone different each day.  Talk and network with people that have growth mindsets.
  3. Dream. Do something new.  I have begun challenging myself to do something uncomfortable every day. While I don’t always succeed, I would like to think I have expanded what I think is possible . . .just a bit.
  4. Admit that you will never be perfect,. but always strive to be better. One of the reasons I read, blog, and interview people is a realization that I can never know everything.  
  5. The journey is just as important as the destination.  Focus on the journey rather than the end.

I would like to hear your ideas for fostering and using a growth mindset.  I will continue using mindsets as one of the tools in the change toolbox, and even though science is unsettled, at least there is an academic debate on the topic with observational and experimental data.  If there wasn’t wouldn’t we be following a fixed mindset pattern?

Other  Entries of the re-read of Mindset:

Basics and Introduction

Chapter 1: Mindsets

Chapter 2: Inside the Mindsets

Chapter 3: The Truth About Ability and Accomplishment

Chapter 4: Sports: The Mindset of a Champion

Chapter 5: Business: Mindset and Leadership

Chapter 6: Relationships: Mindsets in Love (or Not)

Chapter 7:  Parents, Teachers, Coaches: Where Do Mindsets Come From?

Chapter 8: Changing Mindsets: A Workshop