Is your mindset ruining your change initiative?

Everyone’s mindset is unique.  As individuals, our mindset is shaped by our experience.   It is an important part of who we are, and it impacts what we think and how we behave.  This is because we interpret the world we live in and what is happening based on our beliefs, perceptions and assumptions.   It is this interpretation that drives our internal state, and ultimately our thoughts, emotions and behaviour.

As author and philosopher, Aldous Huxley said: “Our experience is not what happens to us, but what we make of what happens to us”.

The danger is that our mindset can limit us, and in ways we may not be consciously aware.  It can put in place roadblocks and obstacles that make it much harder to achieve our change objectives.   Or worse, lead us down a path where our ‘faulty thinking’ creates ‘faulty choice’ and ultimately delivering a ‘faulty outcome’.

Common pitfalls include: ignoring information that doesn’t fit with our established view of the world (ie filtering or selective perception), applying an opinion on something to ‘all’, even though that opinion may be based on a single incident (ie overgeneralising), and attributing reasons for our own or someone’s behaviour without considering alternatives (attribution bias).

It’s therefore important to be critically aware of the mindset that you are taking into situations, particularly when you are making or leading a change.  You need to consider the impact that your mindset may have on the outcome, and whether it will detract or enhance the change.

A quick way to check your mindset is to ask yourself the following question:   Do you believe that you know everything you need to know already, or do you believe that there is still so much to learn?

How you answer will help you determine if you have a fixed or growth mindset.   These terms were coined by the world renowned Stanford academic, Carol Dweck.

She found that people who have a fixed mindset see intelligence as static – a fixed trait.   As a result, they want to always look smart and appear as though they have all the answers.  They believe that success is based on talent alone – not work.  This means they will avoid challenges and give up more easily.  They also ignore feedback, which they see as criticism, and feel threatened by the success of others.

In contrast, people with a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be developed through hard work and effort.  Consequently, they are more eager to embrace learning, take on challenges and persist, despite setbacks.   They love learning and usually display higher resilience.  They are also more willing to learn from others and receive feedback.

Leading a change is hard, and it is not a solo venture.  To be successful you need to be willing to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and also, learn from those around you.

So, ask yourself as you are embarking on your change: “what mindset am I taking into this change?  Is it fixed or growth? And what do I need to do to be open to learning and growing through the change?

Change happens, so make it work for you!

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