Fixed vs. Growth Mindset.

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset.

Each month, we have really great coaching calls for Look Over My Shoulder members and received two excellent questions from members, Dr. Michael McCarthy and Dr. Kim Mai.

The principles and strategies reviewed during the call teed me up nicely for a small handful of new client calls and progress reports. Both members in the group call had their eyes on the horizon, a willingness to learn and share and therefore the ability to solve problems.

This is what Dr. Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset,” where intelligence can be developed and not a “fixed mindset,” where intelligence is static.

I’ve recommended Dr. Dweck’s book, Mindset, more times than I can count. If you haven’t read the short but powerful text, yesterday was the best time to get that done. Today is the second-best time. Get and read the book here. Share it with your team leaders.

As illustrated above, when setting out of the gate to tackle any new project, objective or goal, I strongly urge you to think through each step:

  • Do you embrace or avoid challenges?
  • Do you persist or give up easily in the face of setbacks?
  • Do you see effort as the path to mastery or as fruitless or worse?
  • Do you learn from criticism or do you ignore useful negative feedback?
  • Do you find lessons and inspiration in the success of others or do you feel threatened by the success of others?

One path and mindset causes you to plateau early and achieve less than your full God-given potential. The other allows you to reach even-higher levels of achievement and affords you an even greater sense of free will. 

I’m confident Jack Dorsey’s resignation as the CEO of Twitter so that he can focus on Square, the other company he leads, is an example of growth mindset, requiring serious effort and responsibility in staying in his lane and allowing all stakeholders to thrive by finally saying “no” to being the CEO of everything.

Not everyone will agree, but his mindset in this decision is correctly placed.

I openly admit to my new members and remind you here, throughout my career, I’ve allowed the wrong mindset to dominate my thoughts at times. I’ve avoided doing the hard thing. I knew a challenge would arise and I abdicated my responsibility in the matter. I took negative feedback entirely wrong and have been threatened by the success of others. 

I’m grateful that I’ve been afforded time to reflect and that somewhere, many moons ago, teachers and mentors instilled in me the strong desire to read. This has opened my world to new ideas, possibilities and a relentless pursuit of measurement, feedback and progress updates. Slowing down, asking what is it all for and focusing on what God wants in my life have all allowed me to get me back on the right path. 

Professor Dweck is right. A deterministic view on the world can prevent you from becoming the person you want to be. Embracing a growth mindset, however, can help you commit to and accomplish the things you value.

The members on the recent coaching call demonstrated they already know a powerful truth in life. The hand you are dealt is just the starting point for development and future success, depending on how you play the hand.

It’s a tremendous honor (and a lot of fun) to help our new members come to the same understanding. If there’s someone on your team who needs to hear this message, be sure to print it out and share it with them.

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Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.