n this post, I’m going to talk about how you build and develop a growth mindset. It starts with being self-aware. Self-awareness is step one to any performance improvement. If we’re not paying attention to our internal self-talk and the words we are telling ourselves, we won’t recognize our belief systems that can potentially hinder our growth and achievement. Being present moment focused is one way to be more self-aware of your thoughts in the moment.
Another way to build a growth mindset is through reflection. Don’t worry- I’m not going to suggest that you start keeping a journal, but periodically taking a few minutes to reflect on different situations that have happened or on specific moments, can improve your level of self-awareness. After you make a decision, for example, take a moment and ask yourself why you made that decision. Were there any underlying stories that you were telling yourself that led you to that decision?
Here is a personal example- For a long time, I told myself that I was more effective working with individuals 1:1 rather than in groups. I realized that I was giving myself a reason not to do group workshops because I did NOT like public speaking. In fact, I absolutely HATED it. Any time I had to stand in front of a group my palms would sweat, my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest and my attention was so narrowed that I became easily distracted. To say that public speaking was outside of my comfort zone would be an understatement. So I gave myself an out by telling myself that I was more impactful working 1:1. While it was true that I wasn’t good at speaking to groups, it wasn’t because I was naturally bad at it- it was because I hadn’t practiced that skill enough to develop it. After realizing this, I started to force myself to seek out ways to do workshops and speak in front of groups and get into the jungle of being uncomfortable but also learning and developing my skills. So I really encourage you to take those moments of reflection on why you do or do not engage in certain behaviors or activities.
Another strategy you can use is to pick a skill that you’ve never done, but have been interested in, and spend time learning it. Have you always wanted to learn to play the piano, but thought you weren’t musically inclined? This one is actually mine. I mentioned in a previous post that I had no interest in playing as a child. But now that I am an adult, it is something I would like to learn.
I also challenge you to question your belief systems. I was doing a workshop with a volleyball team and I asked them for some examples of things that they believed they weren’t “naturally” good at. I then asked them how much time they had spent developing those skills. I’m sure you can guess that the time spent wasn’t very long. I then asked them how many hours they had devoted to practicing their sport. It was thousands of hours for most of them. I concluded with the question- How good would you be at music or art or dance or whatever skill you said you weren’t good at if you had spent the same thousands of hours developing that skill? Obviously, the answer would be very good.
A couple of other strategies you can use to develop a growth mindset is to view challenges that you face as opportunities to learn and grow. Just as our muscles need to be worked out and stressed in order to build and get stronger, so does our brain.
You can also place more value on the process rather than the outcome. When you focus on small, incremental growth, you are able to more clearly see your improvement. It is seeing these improvements that will increase your intrinsic motivation and drive to continue.
Finally- embrace the word “Yet”. You may not be able to run a 7-minute mile – YET, but with the proper instruction and training, you can- if that is a goal of yours. You may not feel connected to your team- YET- but with specific strategies and a plan, you will. The point is that we can accomplish most anything that we set our minds to if we have the right resources and commitment to accomplish it.
I’d love to hear your experiences with mindset and the impact it has had on your performance. Please share in the comments below.
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