Do you mind?
Are you willing to grow for it or are you fixed – stuck in a mental rut that inhibits learning, risk and effort?
Carol Dweck, a noted social cognitive psychologist, has studied attributions and performance for many years. I recall studying her work during my B.A. at the University of Manitoba in the 1970’s. Her current contribution is a popular book on attributions and understanding of ourselves called: Mindset. Our mindset influences so much in our lives including engagement.
Dr. Dweck distinguished between two main types of Mindsets.
- Fixed Mindset. We believe our qualities are carved in stone. We feel a need to prove our-self over and over. Overall, we see intelligence as static which leads to a desire to look smart and a tendency to avoid challenges, we give up easily, we see effort as a waste of time, we ignore negative feedback and we feel threatened by the success of others.
- Growth Mindset: We believe our basic qualities are things that can be cultivated through our efforts. We believe we can change and grow through effort, application and experience. Overall intelligence is seen as something that we can develop which leads to embracing challenges, persistence in the face of setbacks, effort as the path to mastery, and willingness to learn from criticism and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.
In support of the growth mindset, scientists have found that people have tremendous capacity for lifelong learning and brain development. Robert Sternberg stated that expertise is “not some fixed prior ability but purposeful engagement.”
When we engage we grow and as we grow we engage more and more. Employee engagement is influencing not only the attitudes of employees but also their minds. Can we win their hearts and minds? The growth mindset overcomes a sense of entitlement in favour of discretionary effort. My success is more a reflection of my effort and openness and growth as opposed to raw talent, ability, and past history.
Here is an overview by Guy Kawasaki of how the fixed mindset can lead to problems:
Here’s some food for thought: perhaps this explains the inexorable march toward mediocrity of many (temporarily) great companies. Let’s say a start-up is hot. It ships something great, and it achieves success. Thus, it’s able to attract the best, brightest, and most talented. These people have been told they’re the best since childhood. Indeed, being hired by the hot company is “proof” that they are the A and A+ players; in fact, the company is so hot that it can out-recruit Google and Microsoft.
Unfortunately, they develop a fixed mindset that they’re the most talented, and they think that continued success is a right. Problems arise because pure talent only works as long as the going is easy. Furthermore, they don’t take risks because failure would harm their image of being the best, brightest, and most talented. When they do fail, they deny it or attribute it to anything but their shortcomings.
And this is the beginning of the end.
In the race for engagement the start line begins with, “on your mark….get ready….get set….GROW!
- Click here to see a strong one page PDF visual of the two mind-sets created by Nigel Holmes.
- Listen to Carol 1/2 hour talk about mindsets at: http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail1011.html
- Read her book: Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
Photo Credit: This is my brain by http://flickr.com/photos/killermonkeys/304439098/