Growth mindset in overdrive: pitfall or opportunity? 

After five months in this new reality, you must have become aware of the kind of mindset within you and your organization. A crisis of this extent will clearly differentiate those who are thriving on a Growth Mindset and those amongst us who are stuck in a Fixed Mindset. The Growth Mindset principle of seeing challenges as opportunities and not threats is key in pivoting your organization. Whether you have to reinvent your culture, your operating model or your leadership, a growth mindset will foster this.

Although I don’t think anyone will disagree that only a Growth Mindset can keep your organization on track in these disruptive times, we have to be aware that many of us have a default mindset which is fixed.  So how do you deal with that?

The easy answer here would be to study the lives of great performers, Olympic athletes or successful entrepreneurs. One thing is for sure, the success of Beyoncé, Usain Bolt or Jack Ma did not come overnight. They had to work really hard and kept on believing in self- improvement. To engage this solution, you could focus on role models in your society and even better in your own organization.

Another way to deal with it is to look at failure as a lack of experience instead of a shortcoming. Unfortunately, our teachers and parents did not help us out much. Punishment of mistakes resulted in lack of self-esteem, and ‘better keep my mouth shout’ mentality.

But wouldn’t there be another way to deal with the different ways your team approaches todays challenges?

To be honest, personally it’s not easy to place myself in a Fixed Mindset. During both my private and professional life I have always preferred the unbeaten path and kept myself going there where others gave up. From my first entrepreneurial adventure, in which no one believed (biking on Curacao, are you crazy?) until my more mature phase of coaching and consulting, I tended to do things differently.

Where others experienced stress when the total lockdown measures were announced, I moved from my 30m2 studio (without outdoors) to a huge AirB&B with pool and garden realizing this would be the best time for a good deal.  This resulted in ten times the space for half the rent of the studio.

However, personally experiencing this Growth Mindset also has a flipside. What I encountered several times is that it can result in disengagement. My ever ‘thinking in opportunities’ mode is always ‘on’. And this can turn into a pretty busy monkey mind I can assure you! Where most of my colleagues and clients were in their survival mode during the start of the lock down, I was thinking of how to move on, how to pivot my business model, and what we can do instead of cannot do anymore. However, being ahead of the troops there is not much you can achieve. And by the time I became aware of the disconnect from my audience, I found myself in my own survival mode. I packed a suitcase in half an hour, miraculously could take an airplane, and was just in time to do the most valuable thing in life. I guided my mom’s battle to heaven and was grateful I could accomplish this very special mission with her in my arms.

The past five months were a crazy emotional rollercoaster but also brought me new insights. Although I realize my Growth Mindset brought me where I am now, I think I can learn a lot from my Fixed Mindset peers. They can be my counter part  where I lose myself in to many ambitions.

I really hope you as a CEO, teamleader, HR manager or entrepreneur can see the skills and talents of everyone in your team. In the end, your leadership cultivates a safe environment in which everyone can flourish and support each other on the path to growth. It takes time and trust to build a workplace people love!