Getting ‘Unstuck’ With a Growth Mindset
I recently had a conversation with a client who was struggling at work. For this senior executive, the demands of the job were already intense. Due to market pressures, the stresses are substantially gaining. The direction from his CEO has become more ambiguous, and his personal definition of success is increasingly unclear. And while this person is very experienced and accomplished, he finds himself less confident in his work product and less secure in his position. After asking a series of questions, it was clear to me that this person had become a victim of being stuck in their own reality. A reality that no longer exists.
The nature of work has changed exponentially over the last five years, and with the advent of new technologies like ChatGPT we’ve only seen the beginning of this technology whirlwind. And while many of us want to run for the hills and get off the grid before the robots take all of our jobs, there is a lesson here. We have to lean into having a growth mindset.
Throughout history, significant technological changes have consistently demanded a growth mindset to navigate and embrace the evolving landscape. Innovations during the Industrial Revolution, the advent of the Internet, and the rise of artificial intelligence have revolutionized society. Those who approach these transformative shifts with a growth mindset recognize the need for continuous learning, adaptation, and resilience. They understand that their skills and knowledge may become obsolete and embrace the opportunity to acquire new competencies, expand their horizons, and remain relevant in an ever-changing technological world. (…and yup, this entire paragraph was written by ChatGPT)
Early in my career, I came across the book Who Moved My Cheese (If you haven’t seen it click here for a synopsis. Be forewarned, it’s a bit cheesy.). It’s an excellent metaphor for what to do when things shift. In the end, the character who recognizes that the norms in his life have changed, he choses to quickly adapts and was able to succeed. As individuals, the most powerful way we can cope with and thrive in an ever-changing landscape is to adopt and lean into having a growth mindset.
“In your our own personal lives, if we do not develop our own self-awareness and become responsible for first creations, we empower other people and circumstances to shape our lives by default.”Stephen Covey
The foundation of having a growth mindset is knowing oneself. In coaching, I find myself helping leaders adequately assess their impact and contribution to their current situation. By having a clear assessment of your strengths, weaknesses, passions, and pet peeves, you are able to be intentional about how you show up, when to lean on others to fill the gaps, and when to step up fully.
Try this: Ask 3 people who know you well; what are my most significant strengths? Where could I use some growth?
“Curiosity is a willing, a proud, and eager confession of ignorance.”Unknown
Growing up, I often heard ‘curiosity killed the cat’ to focus my adolescent attention and encourage me to ‘mind my own business’. I’m not sure what cat lost its life to earn this immortal saying, but I do believe there is a deep cost to not being curious. A disposition for inquisition is the lynchpin of innovation and growth. We need to be curious about the things around us and acknowledge our current skillset. By being open to learning new things and recognizing what we don’t know, we can fill in the gaps with the knowledge that will help us see the bigger picture.
Try this: Go to a familiar place, sit quietly for 2 minutes, and be as observant as possible. Work to notice at least ten things about this place that you haven’t seen before. You can also use this approach with an object or in a conversation. Get curious.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance”Alan Watts
At the heart of change is fear and uncertainty. It may be helpful to think of having a growth mindset if the intention of changing on purpose. If there’s one thing that’s constant in life is, change, perhaps we are best served in approaching each situation asking in what ways we grow and adapt to meet this situation. Another good question is asking yourself if you are the catalyst to help the situation change. Details can be ruthless and unforgiving things. In times of growth, change, and crisis, you seldom possess all the particulars. The best leaders will tell you that in times of uncertainty, you often have to make decisions with limited information or certainty. Don’t be afraid of the unknown; lean into it and see what opportunities may arise.
Manage Your Emotions
“Emotions can be the enemy, if you give into emotions, you lose yourself. You must be one with your emotions, because the body always follows the mind.Bruce Lee
You might be thinking, “Isn’t this part of ‘self-awareness’”? And you are right; it is. But failure to manage emotions is one of the most considerable risks to a growth mindset and decision-making. When unexpected things happen, our emotions hijack our ability to be objective. Often presented as ‘passion,’ our emotions act as blinders; we get tunnel vision and lose visibility of the other perspectives. Our objectivity is a valuable tool when trying to keep an open mind. While it’s not healthy to repress emotions, suspending them for the sake of understanding is an imperative gift.
Try this: When an unexpected situation happens, instead of forming an opinion or feeling, breathe. Try to observe what is happening; list the facts and your feelings separately. Look at the list and ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this, and what more is there to learn?’. Be intentional about your response.
One more tidbit. Try not to be the smartest person in the room. Surround yourself with people who are more intelligent than you and can challenge your perspective.
A growth mindset is essential no matter the industry or career path. Learning to pivot and adapt when change comes our way is both necessary and enriching. By leaning into having a growth mindset, we unlock opportunities that may have been hidden behind fear and uncertainty before. So, take a step back, embrace the unknown, and start leaning into your growth. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.
Cheers to the journey of lifelong growth!
Natalie Renee Parker
Natalie Parker is as an experienced leader, coach, entrepreneur, and consultant helping individuals and organizations achieve their full potential through purpose, power, and authenticity.
We’d love to hear your story. How have you engaged in a growth mindset recently?