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In this special minisode, The Leadership Habit host, Jenn DeWall shares her tips for embracing a growth mindset to strengthen you resilience as a leader.
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Embrace a Growth Mindset to Strengthen Your Resilience
Hi everyone. It’s Jenn DeWall, and I am so excited to bring you another minisode for The Leadership Habit podcast. We are going to be continuing our month of resilience because we know that in today’s environment, resilience is an essential skill, an ability that all leaders need. So what does it mean to have a resilient mindset? Well, just as a refresher, it’s the ability to overcome adversity. It’s the ability to pick yourself up or look at a challenging circumstance and say, I can handle it. Or even say, if someone says, no, you say all right, well where there’s a will, there’s a way, and I will figure out my way to yes. But today, in terms of resilience— one of the things that we’re going to be talking about is the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset. A growth mindset is essential to being a resilient leader because it allows you to see the possibilities. But for those that may be unfamiliar, let’s talk about the difference between the two now.
What is a Fixed Mindset?
A fixed mindset is a belief that your talent is set, that essentially, you can’t change or develop yourself. And a fixed mindset also may avoid challenges as a result of that. It might be because we’re not feeling particularly confident, or we don’t feel like we have the tools or the abilities to handle something. Also, a fixed mindset can ignore criticism, believing that maybe they’re right, or there’s no possible way that someone could find a different way. This is the only way to do something. Also, a fixed mindset can give up easily. That means that one “No” could kill something. Which when we’re thinking about resilience with our teams, we need to show people that “no” doesn’t mean it’s completely done. It might mean that we need to look at something in a different way to educate people more so on and so forth. Another characteristic of a fixed mindset is that they blame others. You know who that person is. It’s the one that you might work with and interact with that’s pointing to someone else saying the reason we got into this mess is all because of another person.
What is a Growth Mindset?
But now let’s talk about the growth mindset— because this is really what we need. This is what’s going to enable our success. And it’s also going to allow us to be the leaders that others want to follow. Because a growth mindset believes that talent can be developed. That means that if you don’t know something, that’s okay. You can learn and figure that out.
In addition, someone with a growth mindset embraces challenges saying, huh, what’s another way to look at that. Or what’s the benefit of this? They don’t look at the challenge as the stopping point. Rather, it’s just a way that they might have to change directions.
A growth mindset also learns from feedback and criticism. So instead of shutting down, blaming others or saying, woe is me- they say, wow, thank you so much for the opportunity to take this feedback and under consideration and use it for my own success. Or use it to help the team or organization grow. Feedback is one of the only ways that we can ensure whether we’re getting something right. And so we have to learn how to embrace it. Even if it might be tough, in addition, someone with a growth mindset, perseveres, that means when there is an error or a mistake, or someone says no, or anything happens that might’ve not been according to plan, that we can still figure it out. I like to call it our own ability to just say, no matter what happens— even if the worst of the worst happens— I can still figure it out. Because my “why” or what I want to accomplish is so great that I will do whatever it takes to get there.
And last someone with a growth mindset and takes responsibility. Yeah, right? Opposite of blaming others. We look at a challenge. We look at a mistake and say, what could I have done differently? And how can I learn from this? But we own it. We don’t try to deflect. Even if it’s a sensitive situation there, where there might be people that are upset or frustrated with us, we still are brave and courageous and take responsibility.
Five Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset
So how do you develop a growth mindset? What do you do to develop a growth mindset? Well, there are five things that you can do. First, embrace who you are. Second, let go of perfectionism. Right? That means that things will always change. Third, redefine what success looks like for you. Fourth, set clear goals. And fifth, take action. So let’s go into those very quickly one by one.
#1 – Embrace Who You Are
What does it truly mean to embrace who you are? Well, embracing who you are means you understand your strengths as well as your opportunities. It can sometimes be thwarted when we compare ourselves to others, believing that someone else has got it figured out, but we don’t. But to truly be a resilient leader, we have to be able to find value in ourselves.
I have some tips for doing that:
Practice mindfulness, this could be a morning gratitude journal. This could even just be writing three things that you like about yourself. Practice mindfulness, get to know yourself.
Build on your strengths. We are so conditioned to only focus on our weaknesses. Whereas our strengths might be a great way that we’re providing value for someone. So look into it, figure out if there are different ways that you could become better at something you’re already great at. And then just picture the impact that you can have.
Positive Self-talk. If you’re truly going to embrace who you are, that’s when you need to speak positively to yourself. That’s right; the words that are going on in your brain directly impact the actions that you take and how you feel. And if you want to be a resilient leader, you need to make sure that you’re your own personal cheerleader.
Focus on the win-win. When you’re making a negotiation, or you’re coming to the table to maybe have a conversation with someone, make sure that your viewpoint is represented, but also be respectful and allow someone to share theirs too. The win is when both you and the other person feel that their needs are met. Embracing who you are— that allows you by doing the win-win to say, it’s okay that I have these wants and desires. And it’s also okay that they do too. Now, how can we find a compromise?
Stop seeking approval from others. To embrace who you are, you need to stop seeking approval from others. Now, I like to say that this is the difference between relying on external validation versus understanding how to internally validate. To say I believe in myself, I trust myself, and I’m worthy. If you want to get better at self-love or self-validation, you’ve got to start to say I can’t please everyone. Or strike a balance between doing what you can to make people happy, but also doing what you can for the benefit of yourself and your organization—knowing that even as leaders, we may not always get to have decisions or impacts that everyone loves. And that doesn’t mean that we’re getting it wrong. So you’ve got to embrace who you are.
#2 – Let Go of Perfectionism
Number two, to develop that growth mindset is to let go of perfectionism, right? That need to always be right. And I know that one is not easy, as someone that identifies as a recovering perfectionist. It can be really difficult because perfection itself, when we use that as a motivator earlier on in our careers or our educational lives, it can help empower us to do greater, to study harder to work longer.
But then there’s a point—and it typically happens in our adult careers— where that perfectionism, that extra pressure actually creates a lot of stress, frustration, and overwhelm, which could end up causing us to leave a job that we actually love. So how do we let go of perfectionism? Find lessons in every mistake? Yes, that’s right. There’s an opportunity and a learning and every single mistake, no matter how bad he might feel about it, no matter what the consequences are, we can still find opportunities for growth. Also, remove yourself from the race. Remember, you are on your own individual career path, your own journey, whatever you’d like to call it. If you compare yourself to someone else, that’s a way that you’re going to diminish your confidence. And you’ll constantly continue to tell yourself I’m just not good enough.
To be able to let go of perfection. That means we’re embracing our flaws. So we’re not comparing yourselves to other people. To embrace or to let go of perfectionism, is to embrace the gray area. Yes, we might have been told what’s right or wrong. What’s fair or unfair, but that’s not really the way that the world operates. So we have to learn to navigate in uncertainty and ambiguity and know that sometimes we’re not always going to have the answers. And another way to let go of perfectionism is to break projects into smaller tasks. Don’t expect yourself to figure out everything all at once. Baby steps.
#3 – Redefine Success
Tip number three to develop a growth mindset is to redefine success. Now, I’m talking about how you define success. Ask yourself, what is your definition? Is success getting everything right all the time? Well, that’s still perfectionism. Think about what you’re using as a definition to guide how you look at success. That could typically be one of the biggest challenges or obstacles, disabling you from being resilient. You have to understand how you look at success. Maybe a definition of success is, Hey, every day, I learned something new, and I continuously improve myself. And that’s my definition of success. Instead of saying, I have to get something right all the time.
Some tips to redefine success:
Identify levels of success. What does good, better, best look like? Give yourself flexibility in how you understand it. Then you won’t be subject to that win-lose mentality that if you, in some way, have a misstep towards your goal, you throw in the towel and give up.
Own Your attitude. To redefine success, you have to own your attitude. This means no more. Woe is me. Everything is happening to me, and it’s embracing the fact that I actually always have control. You as a thinking, breathing being are always the one that has control. You have choice. You can even leave a job if it’s really making you unhappy, and I encourage you to do so if you’re finding that it’s really not the right fit for you. But you have to own your attitude. It’s only on you that you can make changes to how you feel about something or how you approach a challenge. They can’t play the blame game, that doesn’t get us anywhere.
Believe in the comeback. Yes, that’s right. So even if you have failed, even if you might’ve mishandled something, you’ve got to also have the belief that as long as you own your mistakes, that you can persevere and come back. If you don’t believe in the comeback, it’s hard to become a resilient leader because you’ll initially just be stunted by that. No. So you need to believe that things can change that optimism. That possibility is what’s going to fuel your energy and enthusiasm towards any specific goal and how to redefine success play the long game. Hey, there’s a reason that the expression short term pain long term gain is so popular. We get too used to wanting that initial short term validation or those quick results, but sometimes we might have to go through a little bit more pain or more planning. And then because of the investment that we’ve made in it, we’re able to yield a better result. And also if you’re ever looking at something, don’t initially say, well, I’m not there. It is. I am not there yet. As long as I’m continuing to grow, I know that I will get there.
#4 – Set Clear Goals
Number four is to set clear goals. If you don’t know what target you’re trying to pursue, how can you possibly know where to aim? You need to set your target to be able to be successful.
Focus on one to three goals. Remember, you want to think smaller. It’s not about trying to do ten things that will be overwhelming, and we’ll be using our resources and spreading them among a variety of different things that may not yield us a big result. So focus on one to three goals and be specific and make sure that you prioritize those goals. Which one is the most important? What’s the next? And what’s the last, and how do they attribute to the bigger picture? And made sure while you’re doing that, identify your milestones. These are your check-in points to say, are we getting it right? How do we need to adjust? Is there a pivot necessary? Should we keep going? I know sometimes when it’s our idea, we can be so enthusiastic that we want to keep pushing it. Even though there might be red flags, but a resilient leader embraces the red flags and says, you know what? It’s not the best for the organization, the team, the leader themselves to keep going. We’ve got to readjust our sails.
Choose your performance indicators. What are the things that are going to tell you whether or not you’re getting it right? Maybe you have to hit a certain sales number, or maybe you need to have a certain amount of people signing up for something. What are those key performance indicators? And last, if we’re thinking about setting clear goals, make sure that you set time constraints someday in the future, down the line, those are not fixed. And they’re not going to create a sense of urgency for you to be able to create action around.
#5 – Take Action
Which brings us to our last piece, the fifth step, to be able to develop that growth mindset is to take action. I know some of you might be saying, yeah, Jenn, it’s easier said than done, but take this one piece of advice. Action quiets anxiety. If you are anxious or nervous or not feeling confident about something that might be a great time to take action and know it doesn’t have to be a tremendous, huge step. It can be something small, but if we are risk-averse, one of the ways that we can develop confidence is just dipping our toe in the water. So how do we take action even when we’re not feeling ready to, or the circumstances might feel a little uncertain?
Transform your fears, think, and ask yourself, am I making decisions out of a place of fear? Or am I making this business decision from a place of possibility? Then ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen. I guarantee you that if you have enough self-validation or confidence in yourself, that the worst outcome is something that you could actually weather. And more often than not, the worst outcome doesn’t happen. We just tell ourselves it’s a possibility. So we typically plan around an event that isn’t likely to happen. But at the end of the day, sure things happen, and things can sometimes be bad, but you have to always ask yourself, how much do I trust myself that if things go awry that I can figure it out? Do you trust yourself?
Ask for help. If we’re thinking about taking action, one roadblock that we could hit is maybe we don’t have a particular skill, resource, time, or comfort level. This might be a great opportunity to either bring an employee in, learn from a colleague, and ask for help, stop putting the pressure on yourself, to have to figure it out. Remember, if we truly let go of perfectionism, then we don’t make ourselves or put that pressure on ourselves to own every single answer. Give yourself grace.
Remember, energy flows where passion goes. Focus your attention on things that bring you joy, things that you can be excited about, and keep in mind the source of passion. We can find passion in what we do and how we do it and why we do it and who we do it for. Now. That’s from Mark Sandborn. One of Crestcom’s subject matter experts.
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s podcast episode of The Leadership Habit, talking all about how we can develop a growth mindset. Stay tuned next month as we cover the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Thank you for listening. And if you’ve enjoyed, please write us a note and review and share with your friends on your favorite podcast, streaming service.