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NURTURING A GROWTH MINDSET: KEY STRATEGIES FOR ELEVATING PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL GROWTH

Chad E. Foster

May 30, 2023

Growth mindset offers that abilities and competencies can be enhanced through lifelong learning

UNDERSTANDING THE CONCEPT OF A GROWTH MINDSET

Despite what the talking heads and pundits would have us all believe, it turns out that predicting the future is actually pretty hard! None of us could’ve anticipated the pandemic years, the supply chain disruptions, talent shortages, inflation, and general turmoil that ensued. And because none of us are particularly good at guessing what’s going to happen next, it’s more important to focus on adapting to the unfolding future than trying to predict it. The good news for all of us, is that’s entirely possible, because resilience is a skill that can be learned.

In the realm of psychology, a growth mindset, a concept introduced by Dr. Carol Dweck in her 2006 work, “Mindset, The New Psychology of Success: How We Can Learn to Fulfill our Potential,” offers that abilities and competencies can be enhanced through lifelong learning. This often shows up when we:

1. BELIEVE WE CAN LEARN NEW THINGS

Everything in life starts with the belief that it’s possible. If you’re convinced it’s impossible, you’re right. However, if you think it might be a real challenge, but if anybody’s up to the task, it’s you—you’re also right.

As more fully described on the Change Management Keynote Speaker page, the stories that you tell yourself about you will determine your outcomes in life. Whatever inner narrative you’re telling yourself about your possibilities, more often than not, will become your reality. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, so choose your stories wisely.

2. TAKE INCREMENTAL STEPS TO DO SO

While our stories and vision for ourselves might be bold and inspiring—and they should!—the way we move closer to our goals should be small, bite-size steps. If you start off with a task that’s too tall, and you can’t even get a glimpse of success, then it can discourage you from persisting. Instead, try more incremental goals to keep your motivation high while gradually moving closer to your desired outcomes.

Consider my real-world example—and metaphor for life—of downhill skiing. I didn’t start off on a black diamond slope. Instead, I started with the magic carpet, bunny hills, and green slopes. Even just getting comfortable with the idea that I was knowingly and willingly hurdling myself down a mountain on a pair of skis without being able to see was initially quite a stretch for me. However, over time, my skill level and comfort zone expanded, allowing me to take on incrementally more challenging terrain—eventually working up to black and even double black diamond terrain. By starting small, you can create a track record of success, and show yourself that you’re capable of more than you’ve been giving yourself credit for! Read more on the Best Tips for Overcoming Adversity page.

3. EXPERIMENT WITH NEW THINGS WITHOUT BEING OVERLY FIXATED ON THE OUTCOMES

In today’s society, it’s so easy to get caught up on achievements. The trophies we put in our trophy cases become our focal points. Don’t get me wrong—it’s good to recognize your achievements, and to take stock of your successes—but it’s easy to get trapped in a world where our value, our enjoyment in life is determined by how many trophies we have in our trophy cases.

Rather than fixating on the outcomes, instead, if you can focus on the moment-to-moment experiences, you’ll find your enjoyment levels rise, your stress levels dissipate, and a greater sense of lightness as you take on new challenges.

I’ve personally witnessed this firsthand in my life over the last year or so. When I started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ A.K.A. grappling), I entered it with the same trophy mentality, where I was focused on the next stripe, the next belt. However, after stepping back from that outcome-oriented line of thinking and just enjoying the process, the day-to-day training felt lighter, easier, and more enjoyable. And, oddly enough a funny thing happened: the stripes and next belt came more quickly, likely because I approached each training session with no expectation of outcomes. I was just focused on the daily training and how much I enjoyed it. So, slow down, smell the roses, and enjoy the experience.

4. INVEST TIME IN NEW ACTIVITIES

It’s important that we all keep the beginner’s mind. The mindset we all had while growing up. But, as we mature, it’s easy to lose our beginner’s mind due to the knowledge we obtain, the social pressures we face, and the status we get from job titles and other forms of public recognition.

When this happens, it’s easy to forget about the beginner’s mind, but you can reignite your beginner’s mind and curiosity by constantly trying new things. For me, it was downhill skiing at 38-years-old, and then BJJ at nearly 46-years-old. But, it doesn’t have to be sports or combat martial arts. Anything that gives you permission to explore, ask questions, stay curious and maintain a sense of adventure will help you keep that child-like beginner’s mind in your life.

5. COMMIT TO A LIFE OF CONTINUOUS LEARNING

As mentioned above, a beginner’s mind is crucial to maintain resilience and adaptability for whatever life throws your way. Making continuous learning part of your life will help you grow, create a sense of lightness and experimentation, and make your life far more enjoyable. Learning is not something that only happens in schools. If you’re not learning, then you’re slowly dying.

6. LOOK FOR NEW WAYS TO LEARN

We can learn in ways that go well beyond textbooks. Opportunities to learn and evolve may be found all around us.

From the traditional cognitive learning that we all experienced in school, to emotional intelligence that we need in order to understand ourselves and those around us, to the spiritual learning that takes place when we deeply explore our world and our place in it, and finally, there’s opportunity to learn more about our body’s wisdom—our somatic intelligence. We don’t need to look too far in order to find ways to learn. In fact, some of the deepest learning can take place by looking inside yourself.

In order to do this, it’s important to create the spaciousness for stillness. We live in such an action-oriented society that it’s not simple to find the time to sit still. But, by doing so, we can see things more clearly. The ancients use the metaphor of a glass bowl with water and potted soil. When the water and soil are in motion, we can’t clearly see inside the bowl, but when stillness is introduced to the bowl, it brings clarity to the bowl’s content. The bowl is each of us—the bowl is you.Until you regularly create stillness in your life, it’s essentially impossible to clearly see inside yourself. This concept is reinforced through coaching—you can read more about the benefits of coaching on the coaching page.

7. PERSISTENTLY MOVE FORWARD IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY

The vast ocean of life is bound to have waves. The waves are inevitable, but the key is to stop fighting those waves,and start riding those waves. And, who wants a life without any challenges? A life without obstacles removes opportunity for growth. Lean into the challenges and learn how you’re capable of a lot more than you thought possible.

No doubt that a growth mindset is at sharp odds with a fixed mindset, which operates on the belief that talent and intelligence are unchangeable. A growth mindset serves as a driving force for personal and professional development, paving the way for continuous evolution and improvement.

There’s no doubt that a growth mindset is what allowed me to bounce back from blindness better than before. After I lost my eyesight, I had to start from ground zero—relearning how to learn. Who could’ve predicted I’d be a better blind student than sighted student?

Who would’ve imagined I’d end up graduating with a BS in Business Management and go on to learn how to write code to build software without being able to see my computer screen, become a complex financial modeling expert, black diamond skier, and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (grappling) competitor—all without being able to see. We’ve even found that the brain rewires itself in response to new learning—a concept known as neuroplasticity. This is good news for those of us who would like to be able to control our own destiny through grit, effort, and determination.

THE IMPACT OF A GROWTH MINDSET ON PERSONAL GROWTH

A growth mindset is the cornerstone for personal development. So, how does it work? It shows up when individuals avoid perceiving challenges as insurmountable roadblocks, instead focusing on the opportunities for growth and learning. This slight shift in mindset nurtures resilience, fosters flexibility, and cultivates a zeal for lifelong learning–vital traits in today’s rapidly evolving global landscape.

TECHNIQUES TO NURTURE A PERSONAL GROWTH MINDSET

So, how can you nurture a growth mindset? Cultivating a growth mindset involves a conscious shift in thought patterns and attitudes. Embrace challenges as learning opportunities and view mistakes as integral parts of the growth process. Regular self-reflection can help identify fixed mindset tendencies, which can then be replaced with growth-oriented thoughts. For instance, shifting from “I can’t do this” to “I can’t do this YET” can make a significant difference. Prioritize the celebration of effort, grit, and incremental progress well above the celebration of the end result. After all, results always change, aren’t always certain, and aren’t within our control—unlike effort, grit, and incremental progress—which we have much more agency over.

HARNESSING A GROWTH MINDSET FOR PROFESSIONAL ADVANCEMENT

In the professional world, a growth mindset can serve as the catalyst for unlocking your potential and boosting your performance. It encourages ongoing learning, fosters innovation, and promotes calculated risk-taking, creating an environment that is dynamic and adaptable.

IMPLEMENTING A GROWTH MINDSET IN PROFESSIONAL SETTINGS

Establishing a growth mindset culture in a professional setting involves fostering an environment that encourages learning, values feedback, and celebrates resilience. Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Fostering a Curiosity-Driven Culture: Encourage a culture that values curiosity and experimentation, where asking questions and seeking knowledge are encouraged and rewarded. The questions are just as—or even more important—than the answers.

  2. Reframing Failure as a Learning Opportunity: Shift the perspective on failure to see it as an opportunity for learning and growth. Encourage employees to take calculated risks and learn from the outcomes. How can you transform your workplace into a learning laboratory?

  3. Prioritizing Continuous Learning: Make resources for professional development readily available, such as training programs, webinars, or workshops. 

  4. Promoting Constructive Feedback: Encourage a culture where constructive feedback is seen as an opportunity for growth, rather than a critique. This is done when company leaders take feedback publicly, giving everyone “permission” to receive input as the “gift” it is.

THE INTERSECTION OF GROWTH MINDSET AND MOTIVATION

Motivation plays a crucial role in the growth mindset paradigm. Intrinsic motivation, the drive to engage in an activity because it is inherently satisfying, is particularly influential. It fuels the desire for personal and professional growth, driving continuous development.

TECHNIQUES TO ENHANCE MOTIVATION IN A GROWTH MINDSET FRAMEWORK

To cultivate intrinsic motivation within a growth mindset framework, consider these techniques:

  1. Goal Setting: Goals provide a clear direction and a sense of purpose. Make sure they are challenging yet achievable to sustain motivation. Read more about SMART goals on the Success Keynote Speaker page.

  2. Encourage Autonomy: Allowing individuals autonomy in their tasks and decisions can boost motivation and foster a growth mindset. Everyone wants some control over how they get work done, so set the context for what needs to get done, and give them some freedom in determining how they’ll get it done.

  3. Provide Recognition: Recognize and appreciate effort, resilience, and progress to reinforce the growth mindset culture. Remember: praise publicly and course correct privately. Read more about leading teams on the Leadership Keynote Speaker page.

THE POWER OF A GROWTH MINDSET IN PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Embracing a growth mindset can significantly transform personal and professional development, paving the way for a culture that thrives on learning, innovation, and constant improvement. It is a crucial skill for us mortals who aren’t able to predict the future. By nurturing a growth mindset, we can continuously evolve, both personally and professionally, to whatever reality unfolds in front of us, and thrive despite our circumstances.


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Blind Ambition™

If you don’t feel like you’re reaching the levels of happiness that you see others enjoy, or your goals seem out of reach, you’re not alone. Life is too short for regrets. Learn how to use your mindset to reach your most daring dreams. Chad’s stories and lessons will inspire, empower, and prepare you to face uncertainty with hope and optimism. Want to be mentally tough, strong, resilient and prepared to adapt and thrive in changing circumstances? Self-confident to become your best you? It’s time to break free from the self-destructive thoughts that hold you back.

Ready To Turn Your Biggest Obstacle Into Your Biggest Advantage? The stories we tell ourselves either limit us or propel us towards our goals.