Is Your Mindset Holding You Back?

I recently had animated conversations with two intelligent, highly competent HR practitioners, who both left corporate HR jobs to start coaching practices. Two people, both with brains and talent. Why is one getting traction and the other is not?

Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychology professor and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, suggests that having a growth mindset may be the difference. What is a growth mindset vs. what Dweck calls a fixed mindset? Our mindset consists of our most basic beliefs about ourselves and how they affect what we want and whether we’re successful in getting it. In effect, they guide our behaviour.

Individuals with a growth mindset believe that they can develop their skills and abilities over time, through attitude, experience, feedback, mentoring and other development opportunities. They thrive on challenge. They’re not preoccupied with how smart they look to others. They see failure as a valuable step in their learning and growth.

Back to the two aspiring coaches. “Sam” has a growth mindset. When a prospect doesn’t respond to her calls or emails, she persistently follows up. After receiving constructive feedback about her demo coaching session, her response is to listen carefully and determine how she will apply these learnings in the future. When learning of other coaches’ successes, she is genuine in her congratulations and inspired by their wins.

Compare this to “Robin” who has a fixed mindset, believing that her intelligence, attributes and abilities are pretty much carved in stone and that she needs to keep proving her worth. Her learning is compromised by questions such as: Will I look smart? Will it look like I have all the answers? Will I be accepted? In trying to constantly prove herself right, she misses the opportunity to learn. When prospects don’t respond after one email, she’s annoyed and gives up. Feedback after sales calls with a colleague is met emotionally and defensively. She is dismissive of other coaches’ successes, often attributing it to luck.

In a growth mindset, people view brains and aptitude as the starting point. These individuals have a love of learning that accelerates them to a higher level of achievement.

How can you get into a growth mindset?

5 Strategies…

  1. Be passionate about stretching yourself. Get comfortable with getting outside your comfort zone.
  2. View challenges as an opportunity to learn, grow and develop.
  3. When an obstacle or problem occurs, ask yourself, how can I solve it? What can I learn from this? How can I apply this in the future?
  4. Persevere! Accept that setbacks are an indication that you have not yet achieved your goal, not that you have failed and will never achieve it.
  5. Consider the process, rather than focus solely on the outcome. Assess the strategies you used, your dedication and your resilience.

According to Dweck, this mindset and your passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, especially in times of adversity, are what will propel you and help you achieve your full potential.

In my next blog, I will describe how you, as a leader, can encourage a growth mindset in others you mentor.

Here is Dweck’s model…

We would love to have a conversation with you about cultivating a grow mindset in your organization and your specific learning needs.

Please connect with me at:

(905) 990-2515