As the Commander of a Basic Training Company, I had the opportunity to observe the impact of trainees’ mindset on their success.
My Senior Drill Sergeant and I would watch the new recruits depart the bus as they arrived for training. By observing their body language and their initial response to military life, we could predict their success.
How could we determine who would be successful? What criteria did we use? Was our selection based on intelligence, physical ability, or educational level? No! The qualities listed are important but they are not the most important in determining success. So what was the most important determinant of success? Mindset!
Trainees who demonstrated a growth mindset by embracing challenges, accepting responsibility, and were persistent in their efforts were successful. Whereas trainees who blamed others, tended to give up easily, and avoided challenges struggled.
I once facilitated a mastermind group using one of my favorite books, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Dr. Carol Dweck’s. In the book, Dr. Dweck shares her research on the impact of our beliefs, both conscious and unconscious, on how we respond to the challenges of life. Dr. Dweck describe two types of mindsets: fixed or growth.
Individuals with a fixed mindset accept that basic qualities, like character, intelligence or talent are fixed traits, which can’t be changed. Therefore, success is confirmation of intelligence and skill. Whereas individuals with a growth mindset believe basic abilities are cultivated through hard work and good strategies. Failure is viewed as an opportunity to learn, grow and sharpen abilities.
Why is it important to have a growth mindset now that you are in the chair? Because as the leader you set the tone for the organization.
Can you change your mindset? Yes! According to Dr. Dweck, there are four steps we can take to change our mindset from fixed to growth:
- Tune into your “inner voice.” – When challenges or setbacks arise, what does your “inner voice” say to you?
- Acknowledge you have a choice in how you respond. – You have a choice on how to respond to challenges.
- Talk back to your “inner voice.” – Talk back to your “inner voice” using growth mindset language.
- Choose a growth mindset action. – Learn and grow from challenges or setbacks.
Mindsets are not fixed. Every day, we have a choice in how we respond to the challenges of leadership.
You’re in the chair now, what steps will take to maintain a growth mindset?