Building a growth mindset as a leader

16 February 2021

Money & Life team

Money & Life contributors draw on their diverse range of experience to present you with insights and guidance that will help you manage your financial wellbeing, achieve your lifestyle goals and plan for your financial future.

Andrew May explains how practitioners can develop a growth mindset, which will not only help you get through crises and challenges, but can also assist you to learn, improve and grow from the experience.

When a massive change comes along in our working or in our personal lives, it comes with its own set of challenges – and potential opportunities.

As a business owner in the days and months ahead, you’re going to be faced with a choice: do you stand still and hope for the best, or do you pursue active growth and take on this challenge as a chance to better yourself and your craft as a financial planner?

A question regularly asked in the business world is whether IQ/intelligence or the right attitude is more important? Similarly, talent scouts in sports globally debate whether innate talent or attitude affects outcomes more.

So, which is more important for success, in business, sport and life? Is it your intellect or skills, or is it the right attitude?

I’d wager that flexibility, adaptability and a willingness to learn, change and grow will often take you further in times of crises than technical know-how can. Now, more than ever, a mindset geared towards growth and positivity is vital for business owners who want to succeed.

Growth vs fixed: Where’s your head at?

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck and her team discovered that people’s core attitudes lead them to one of two mindsets: either a ‘growth mindset’ or a ‘fixed mindset’.

People who have a fixed mindset believe that they are born with their abilities, intelligence and talents and cannot change them. In contrast, people with a growth mindset believe that most things can be improved with additional training and/or effort. They typically outperform those who have a fixed mindset, even if they have a lower IQ, because they embrace each challenge and treat it as an opportunity to learn something new.

Success in life, it turns out, is closely linked to how you deal with challenges and setbacks. And developing a growth mindset is the best way to turn setbacks to your advantage and use it to improve. And the good news? You are not born with a growth mindset – it can be trained.

Developing a growth mindset

Developing a growth mindset is not as hard as you might think. The following are five easy ways to begin the transformation:

  • Embrace challenges. A challenge is an opportunity in different clothes. A growth mindset sees challenges as a chance to grow, learn, adapt and improve – not as a problem to ignore or fret over.
  • Persist against setbacks. Setbacks inevitably happen in life. How you react to them says a lot about you and has a big impact on your success. Instead of throwing in the towel when the going gets tough, get flexible, get creative and get going.
  • See effort as a positive. The more effort you put into something, the closer you get to being a master of it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are you. Start looking at the effort to learn and grow as a good thing – it means you are one day closer to your goals.
  • Learn from feedback. Critical feedback is crucial for becoming better – at anything. Work on receiving feedback with an open mind and a willingness to improve. Remind yourself that the feedback isn’t something to defend against, it’s something to learn from.
  • Learn from others’ Bitterness and jealousy over others’ success is nothing but a waste of your own time and energy. Instead, try to learn from and be inspired by the success of those around you and use it to push yourself to greater heights.

Focus on what you can change

Don’t get me wrong – there’s more to weathering a crisis, like COVID-19, than just adopting a positive outlook. I’m very aware that so many businesses in Australia have struggled over the past 12 months due to no fault of their own.

I think one of the biggest strategies to embrace the construct of trying to nurture a growth mindset is focusing more time, more energy and more attention on what you can influence or change; and trying to let go of what you can’t.

By approaching crises and challenges, like a global pandemic, with a growth mindset, instead of a fixed and static outlook, you’re putting yourself in the best position to not only get through the crisis in good shape – but potentially, to learn, improve and grow from the experience.

Andrew May is a workplace performance and wellbeing specialist. He is the CEO and founder of StriveStronger.

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