An Ignite Blog by:
Brian Kush, PCC, CPA
The mindsets we hold create our reality and results. Psychologist Carol Dweck performed extensive research around a certain set of beliefs and how they impact people’s lives:
The growth mindset is the belief that your talents can be developed through learning and effort.
The fixed mindset, in contrast, is the belief that success stems from being naturally gifted.
Dweck’s research suggests that a growth mindset predicts higher levels of success and achievement.
If you notice yourself holding a fixed mindset about something, how can you adopt a growth mindset instead to increase your odds of success?
Contrary to popular belief, your beliefs can be changed…with the appropriate level of effort.
Step 1 of adopting a growth mindset is awareness. You cannot change what you cannot see! First, understand where you hold a fixed mindset, and decide to change it.
Step 2 is implementing practices that cultivate a growth mindset:
Here are 5 practices to help you grow a growth mindset.
1. Reframe and learn from setbacks
You can do this right now. Think about a major failure, setback, or challenge you experienced in your life.
What conclusions have you made about that experience?
What conclusions have you made about yourself as a result? (For example, did you fail because you weren’t good enough? That’s your fixed mindset talking. Notice it. Own it.)
Now, without changing the facts, how could you shift the story you’re telling yourself about that event in a way that helps you learn from it?
What did you learn from the experience?
What did you learn about yourself?
What did you gain, that you would not have gained otherwise, by going through the experience?
By reframing our past experiences through a growth lens, we expand our belief in our ability to continue growing!
2. Reframe your questions
On Sunday evenings, I used to look at the week ahead, trying to determine how I could get everything accomplished on my to-do list in the limited timeframe I had available. This usually led to losing some sleep on Sunday nights!
One recent Sunday evening, my wife asked, “What are you most looking forward to this week?” Her question challenged my mindset. Instead of planning my week from a scarcity mindset of “not enough time,” I could instead choose to focus on what I’m excited to do! Her question created a new possibility for me – it shifted the entire way I framed the week ahead.
Now, when I plan my week, I ask myself, “What are you most looking forward to this week?” Instead of feeling nervous and drained, I feel energized. By asking myself this question, I am shifting my mindset about the upcoming week!
Powerful questions can do that. Ask yourself the following questions to shift from a fixed to a growth mindset:
What will I challenge myself to learn today?
What did I learn today? How can I use this going forward?
What am I proud of in terms of my effort today?
Where did I struggle today, and what can I learn from this?
What can I learn from this success/failure/setback/etc.?
How have I grown over the last week/month/year/etc.?
Where am I more skilled now than I was [x] years ago, and how did I improve?
3. Notice (and change) your self-talk
“I am such an idiot for …”
“I am terrible at …”
“I will never be good at …”
Have you ever said anything like this to yourself? We can talk to ourselves this way without even realizing the deep impact it has.
First, notice your self-talk. Then, ask yourself, “Is this serving my growth?”
If it’s not, what affirmations can you replace it with to inspire growth? For example:
“I am always learning and growing.”
“Mistakes help me learn and grow.”
“I strive for progress, not perfection.”
“I embrace new challenges.”
4. Embrace feedback
Recognize feedback for what it truly is – information that helps you grow. View it as a gift – welcome and appreciate it…all of it. Express gratitude when others invest in you by providing their feedback.
For you to embrace feedback with a growth mindset, ensure it is actionable. When someone provides you positive feedback, don’t brush it off in an attempt to be humble (this is a lost learning opportunity!). Learn from it. Ask questions to help the other person get specific about what you did well, so you can do it more often. For example, “What specifically did I do that helped that project go well?”
5. Shine the light on other people’s growth
When I was ten years old, my soccer coach told me how proud he was that I had become a vocal leader of the team. Previously, I had been a quiet, shy player. Through lots of effort (and getting uncomfortable!), I became more vocal and outwardly passionate. My coach noticed this and shared it with me.
Why do I still remember this, all these years later? Because my coach shined the light on my growth, and it felt good!
Encourage others’ growth by shining the light on what you see! Not only can this make you a superhero for others, but you’re also cultivating a growth mindset in both of you!
Adopting a growth mindset will expand what’s possible for you. Instead of worrying about how smart you are or what people think about you, you can reinvest that energy in learning more and getting smarter. You’ll unleash more of your potential and reach new heights of success and fulfillment!
But, this doesn’t come without effort. Growth requires us to see ourselves and the world in a new way. It requires us to embrace our challenges. It requires consistent practice.
What new practice will you embrace today?
“Failure is not the outcome. Failure is not trying. Don’t be afraid to fail.”
– Sara Blakely
Brian Kush is an Executive Leadership Coach for Intend2Lead, a leadership development firm that helps accountants access the Dimension of Possible.
Used with permission. The Ignite blog is an official publication of the Kansas Society of CPAs, Copyright 2020.