The noise from the exercise room at the gym caught my attention. Curious, I peered in to see what was going on. Someone in the group yelled to me and suggested that I join them for the new class that was about to start. I had never taken part in this new exercise and felt a little hesitant.
To be perfectly honest, my first thought was that I didn’t know what to expect. It just wasn’t what I had planned to do that morning. But then I thought about the opportunity of trying something new, and I got excited. I told myself that I’m sure that I could survive this experience, even if I didn’t know what I was doing and I just might learn something new.
Looking back, it was crazy to have any reservations. But let’s be real here, you probably do this as well. Dependent upon your beliefs, you might be willing to try and learn new things or you might feel comfortable staying within your zone where you can be sure to excel.
According to a theory created by Carol Dweck, a world renowned Psychologist at Stanford University, individuals possess fixed or growth mindsets. She has studied achievement and success for decades and has uncovered two different belief systems that exist within the population.
People with a fixed-mindset believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence and talent, is fixed and won’t change over their lifetime. They believe talent alone is what leads to success. According to the book “Mindset”, by Carole Dweck, people with a growth mindset believe that their abilities can be developed throughout their life with perseverance and hard work. Their talent and skills are just the starting point, not the end point.
What happens when you possess a fixed mindset and you fail? You are definitely not encouraged to try again because apparently, you are not working within your talents. On the other hand, what happens if you possess a growth mindset and you fail? You figure that you might need to do things a little differently, make some changes and try again. A growth mindset leads to individuals that are more resilient, willing to learn new things and more comfortable getting outside their comfort zone.
In the last two weeks, I had two client situations that best represent the need for possessing a growth-mindset in the workplace. In one situation, a team member commented to a leader that they don’t learn by training and coaching. In another situation, a team member shared with the leader that they abhor all training.
I suspect that both of these situations had more to do with individuals adhering to a fixed-mindset belief and feeling uncomfortable learning outside their rigid rules of success. If the learning involves an area where they currently don’t excel, they don’t want to take part.
They could fail.
I encourage companies to promote the growth-mindset and create a culture where learning and development is at the company’s core. That means sometimes, you will be asked to dabble outside your area of expertise and become comfortable with the process and the outcome. This is regardless of whether it’s a raving success or a complete flop.
That’s the true definition of success.