This is the second post in a series about making change happen. See the first by clicking 10 essential change to make change happen.
You hear a lot about confidence in our day-to-day life; how people have lost it, found it, how situations can relieve you of it. Much is written about how to find it, how to never lose it again or how to retain it. What if I were to tell you confidence isn’t the key to unlocking your potential? What if there was something else that made it possible to succeed even in the most adverse of conditions?
Your mindset is the answer. A person’s performance, success and growth are shaped by the mindset with which they approach it. Believing strengths can be improved and new skills can be mastered is said to be a growth mindset. Believing that your strengths, talent and IQ are set in stone indicates something called a fixed mindset. Have you ever heard the following saying?
That is a great example of a fixed mindset! It is ingrained in us to know our limits. We are graded at school based on IQ or aptitude at certain subjects; judgments are made at work on our performance levels. At best, these are only ever snapshots of our ability at a single point in time, but how many times do these situations alter how we perceive our ability for the rest of our life? How do they influence our decisions, limit our possibilities and may even become our self-limiting beliefs?
I know that change can seem difficult and changing your mindset can seem too large of an undertaking, but neuroscience shows us that change is possible on an unheard of scale. There are so many examples where individuals with who have suffered terrible and severe brain damage have re-learnt skills. Think about these people who learn to walk again after an awful accident, or people learning to speak again after a stroke. This highlights that even without the “right mindset”, human biology is predisposed towards growth and learning.
So how do we adopt this “growth mindset”? As with any other habit, it will take time and will take effort to break patterns in your thinking which you have established over the years. Take time each day to reflect upon your behaviour and consider what opportunities for exercising your growth mindset were presented today. Be honest with yourself about how successful you were with taking these opportunities. Consciously thinking about a growth mindset will feel artificial at first, but slowly over time will begin to feel more natural.
By adopting a growth mindset, you can reward yourself for working hard at something; improvement is always possible. Opportunities become available because you are no longer limited by your present perceived ability; you can learn, you can adapt.
So forget confidence, forget perceptions and believe you can grow and change; believe your talent is limitless and that you just need to learn. What will you do differently now?
If you are interested in reading more about Mindset, check out Carol Dweck’s book. It’s an easy read and very illuminating.