Minisode: How to Cultivate a Growth Mindset with Jenn DeWall

Minisode: How to Cultivate a Growth Mindset with Jenn DeWall

Full Transcript Below:

Jenn DeWall:

Hi everyone. It’s Jenn DeWall, and on this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit podcast, we’re doing a minisode all around cultivating a growth mindset. And this was created as a result of one of Crestcom’s monthly webinars. So if you’re looking to develop yourself, head on over to We offer complimentary 60-minute webinars every single month on a variety of leadership topics. But here we go. Let’s talk about what it means to cultivate a growth mindset!

Growth Mindset is About Your Perspective

Jenn DeWall:

Mindset is all about our perspective. We think if it’s a fixed mindset, you can even picture yourself in a box. When we’re in that fixed mindset place, we’re in that box, and it can feel really difficult to break out of it. We feel like maybe we’re stuck. That there’s nothing that we can do. And, of course, what we want as leaders is to feel a growth mindset. That feeling that that box is open, that there are more solutions available to us, and of course that we can make change happen and that we can always change.

Comfort Should Scare You

But here’s the thing that we have to know about a growth mindset. This is one of my favorite quotes. It’s one that I often share when I’m facilitating or speaking. And it’s all about comfort should scare you. Now, why does that matter? Why should comfort scare you? Well, as individuals, as leaders, our brain craves stability. We don’t necessarily love change. And as a result, we get into our comfort zones. And when we live in those comfortable spaces, taking risks can feel more challenging. Hearing new ideas can feel a little uncomfortable, and we then can keep ourselves stuck because we don’t necessarily want to put ourselves out of our comfort zones. And so the consequence of that for an organization could be maybe not pushing the envelope in innovation or looking for more creative ideas or as an individual, maybe you stop wanting to develop yourself.

Maybe you think, well, I’ve got this figured out, that’s totally fine. And then you start playing safe, and you might realize that you’re not as happy or fulfilled as you once were because you’re not challenging yourself. So comfort should scare you. So what are we going to talk about in this minisode? We’re going to talk about the difference between a growth and effects mindset and apply a framework to adjust your mindset as well as create a strategy or give you tips on how you can develop a growth mindset on your team. So types of mindset that we’re going to be talking about today, there are many, there are many different ways to look at this, but we’re going to start with just talking about the basic, which is a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset. And a fixed mindset is simply defined as people believing that qualities like intelligence and talent are fixed states that cannot be improved through our efforts.

And so what does, what are the characteristics of that? It could feel like when we embrace that fixed mindset, that we’re avoiding risks or challenges that we believe that, you know what, we probably can’t improve our intelligence or our strengths, or that you either have it, or you don’t. And sometimes, when we come from a fixed mindset, and we refute, and we receive feedback, we can actually feel it as a personal attack or criticism because we feel helpless, right? There’s nothing that I can do. That’s that fixed mindset. And we can then feel threatened by others’ successes. And we might even try to hide our flaws or mistakes. Fixed mindsets keep us stuck. They also put us in that place of personal attack, right? We feel like we have to defend ourselves, and this can be problematic if you’re working with others, as you might have more of a competitive or contentious relation, or if you’re a leader and you’re managing a team, and maybe you’re threatened by someone else’s strengths.

True Potential is Unlimited

Now our goal as leaders is to show up with that growth mindset, which is defined as when people believe that true potential is unlimited. And with effort and determination, individuals can enhance their skills and abilities. Now, characteristics of a growth mindset are embracing risks or challenges. Looking at those as opportunities to not only develop yourself but also to push the envelope to help your own organization or team move forward, that essentially says we can handle any task that comes our way. And then, of course, other characteristics believe that we can improve our own strengths. We can improve our intelligence and that no matter what, we’re always growing. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. So we always have to have that ability to see that no matter what the circumstance or problem, there’s always an upside within it. And when we have that growth mindset, and we receive feedback, instead of like the fixed mindset where we might defend or view that as a personal attack or criticism, then we look at this as, thank you so much.

You’re giving me an opportunity to improve, to make a greater impact, to solve problems more efficiently and so on and so forth. And when we have that growth mindset, we can then extend that to others. We look at opportunities to develop others. Maybe even if they have a strength that’s greater than our own, we want to support others’ success. And, of course, we look at mistakes as learning opportunities. So if we’re trying to think about what this sounds like in our head, a fixed mindset kind of believes I’m either good at it, or I’m bad at it. Whereas a growth mindset would then say, I can always develop and learn, or another example, a fixed mindset. We either won, or we lost; we’re winning, or we’re losing. And of course, the growth mindset is that no matter what happens, we’re always learning, and we can always learn how to improve, do better and make better decisions.

Growth Mindset or Fixed Mindset?

The next time, think, Hey, a fixed mindset. I can’t figure this out. I probably won’t be able to, and with that growth mindset, I can’t figure this out yet. YET. We’re giving ourselves permission to not know the answers. And I think that’s something that’s really important for leaders is we often put that pressure to know and fix. And Hey, maybe it’s just an opportunity to ask for help to pick up a book, to do a little bit more research. It’s not that you will never be able to figure something out. It’s that you can’t do it yet. And that gives you permission to learn and make different choices. And it improves your competence because the thing about mindset, the truth about it is that it’s a muscle that requires discipline to maintain. We will always fall back into our comfort zones. Again, that’s our brain’s way of saying, Hey, stay safe there.

So we have to be very intentional about creating and flexing that muscle of a growth mindset. Because mindset, if we don’t do anything, if we live in that place of a fixed mindset, it can impact our behavior. How we show up in certain circumstances, the choices that we make ultimately impact the outcomes that we achieve. Mindset will even impact how we cope in a situation. How do we handle when mistakes happen or when- you know what- something doesn’t go as planned. And it also gives us permission to learn to always bro, which then gives us that opportunity to challenge ourselves, to see how strong we are, how resilient we are. So mindset will impact our ability to be resilient. Think about the pandemic. All of us likely had to say, okay, there’s a lot of uncertainty here, but let’s focus on what we can control.

I know that we can navigate our way through all of these challenges. There is resilience there. And, of course, when we have that positive growth mindset, it improves our ability to take risks. Both our organization, our team, and us as individuals improve our relationships. And of course, it makes us more adaptable. So how do you develop a growth mindset? Well, to talk about a mindset, we also have to talk about competence, which is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of our own values and qualities or abilities. And when we’re confident or when we’re not confident, it will impact cultural norms. Maybe what we expect as, you know, desired behavior or what we even reward. It’s going to impact the skills and training that we pursue. If I’m telling myself and I’m not feeling confident, and I’m living in that fixed mindset, then I’m telling myself, I guess there’s nothing that I can do and then I’m not looking for opportunities to develop.

Other things that also will impact our ability or confidence are, of course, our background and our life experience, or maybe we have felt rejected in the past. Or, of course, like everyone listening to this podcast, we’ve experienced self-doubt or limiting beliefs. And when we listen to those things that I’m not good enough, I’m always failing. Then, of course, it can make us feel like there’s nothing we can do. It’s keeping us in that fixed mindset. But here’s what I want you to know. Your self-worth is determined by you. You do not have to depend on someone to tell you who you are. Now that is confidence. We are being able to look within ourselves and see that I produce strength and value and that no one else can tell me whether or not I do. I own that at a basic level. I know my capabilities. And when we can see that within ourselves as leaders, then we can also acknowledge and appreciate the strengths of others, giving them permission to be more confident, giving them permission, to lean into their strengths and really let themselves fly.

A 5-step Process to Cultivating a Growth Mindset

So how do you change your mindset? It’s a five-step process, and it starts with checking in, creating a vision, doing scenario planning of the “what if”, thinking about the obstacles that you’ll have to overcome and creating a strategy to minimize them, and then, of course taking action.

Check In With Yourself

So let’s talk about checking in with yourself. That really starts with self-awareness, which is understanding your own emotional needs and drives to relate with others successfully. When we’re more self-aware, of course, we can solve problems better. We can manage our relationships. We understand our strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly, they understand our triggers. So if you’re working on fostering and building that self-awareness, things that you can do are to identify feelings and emotions, understand what’s really going on. What were you triggered by when maybe someone showed up late for a meeting? Also, practicing curiosity, how do you observe the rule or the world around you? The circumstances, the problems- are you reacting to it in a place from a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. And, of course, understand your strengths and weaknesses. When we understand our weaknesses, they can become opportunities, opportunities for us to develop or opportunities to delegate or get someone else involved that might have that as a strength. And of course, if we’re trying to check in with ourselves, we have to understand why do we make the decisions that we do? Do we do it from a place of fear of rejection or not wanting someone to see our flaws, talking about that imposter syndrome? Or are we making decisions from that place of possibility? Hey, this is how we can move the needle. This is how we can further grow and develop. And of course, if we’re talking about checking in with ourselves, I think there’s a relationship that we can all start to develop, which is giving ourselves grace, giving ourselves permission to own our mistakes, but not live there. To take accountability for them to do something different, to apologize, no matter what that is, when you make a mistake, own it to control it.

Create A Vision

The second piece is to set the vision or the goal. What are you trying to achieve as a leader? What are you trying to achieve as an individual? It’s easy to stay in a fixed mindset when we don’t have a vision or a goal because we’re not really sure what we’re working towards. So when we have that vision or goal, it can help us make better decisions, solve problems faster. It can even motivate us. Of course. And then, it also helps to foster our own resilience when a mistake or problem comes our way. If we have that clear vision or goal of what we want to achieve, then we can use that excitement, that enthusiasm—making that “Why”- Why are we doing that- bigger than your “But”- the but, or the reason not to. To help you make decisions and keep going. So if you’re talking about how to do, you set a vision or a goal, make sure that you’re specific, understand what you’re working towards. It can’t be something big and of building small and large goals too often. We just set a grandiose vision, and then we have no plan for how we’re going to accomplish it. So make those micro-goals or milestones to check in that know that each one that you accomplish is getting you one step closer to where you want to be. So, of course, you want to visualize and measure your progress and then also set a deadline for when you are going to achieve it.

Do Some Scenario Planning:  What if Up/What if Down

Now, the third thing that you can do to cultivate a growth mindset is scenario planning. You can think about this as What if Up? What if things all go right? Or What if Down? What if nothing goes right now? What if down can sound like this? What if I don’t do well on that presentation? What if I don’t get the promotion or the job? What if I bomb that interview? What if no one likes me as a leader? What if I fail? Now? We have a natural tendency to What if Down. Our brain is doing that because it wants to anticipate. Hey, if things don’t go our way, I want to make sure that we can survive and adapt. But the thing is, when we live in the What if Down space and we don’t move to the, What if Up, then it can keep us stuck.

It can discourage us. And, of course, break our confidence. So our goal in developing a growth mindset is to practice scenario planning. So not only do the, What if Up, What if Down, which is what most of us will have the natural tendency to do, but then also doing the, what if up, I want you to expand your possibilities such as what if I do well on my presentation? What if I do get that promotion or a job? What if people like me? What if my team actually likes me? Or what if I succeed now? The benefit of scenario planning, of course, it gives us confidence motivation. It helps us make decisions faster and solve problems in a greater way. So how you can practice this in a situation that you’re going into, you’re already doing, the What if Down, which is the worst-case scenario, but then I want you to What if Up, which is the best-case scenario. So use Up to inspire you and use down to prepare. Maybe use that to talk about some obstacles that you might have to overcome, which is step four in cultivating a growth mindset.

Identify Any Obstacles and Create a Strategy to Overcome Them

You’ve got to identify your obstacles. Now here’s the thing about life. I wish that these weren’t true, but all of us are facing these circumstances. If you are doing life right, it’s going to be hard. If you’re pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, if you’re being vulnerable, if you’re taking risks, they’re not easy because we typically haven’t seen those situations or environments before. And you know, one thing we always have to look at, if we’re thinking about a fixed mindset or a growth mindset, it can be really easy to just say, I don’t have a budget. I don’t have resources. I don’t have this. Yep. You don’t have anything. And I know that for, as a leader, sometimes it’s extremely struggling to say, what do you want us to do? We have no resources, but here’s the thing. A growth mindset says we can still figure it out. I know it’s not ideal. I know it’s not what we want, but we can still navigate it through. So I want you to keep these truths about work and life in your head so you can understand them as not something that’s a fatal flaw. That’s unique to you. It’s something that you can absolutely overcome.

Or another truth about life. You will never find the time for everything. If you want time, you got to make time, or you will always encounter someone difficult to work with. I wish that every single organization that I went to everyone was getting along grand, they love one another, but you know what? We’re all completely different individuals. We’re not all going to have the same communication styles or work ethics, or preferences. And so sometimes, yeah, conflict is going to happen. Or we may not necessarily connect with a coworker that does not mean that we have to leave our jobs. That does not mean that we have permission to be disrespectful to someone. That does mean that we’ve got to figure out ways to adapt.

And another truth about work and life is that the only thing constant is change. You can always change. That is the heart of a growth mindset. You can always change, make a different choice, do something different, learn a new tool or skill you are not stuck with just because you’ve made a mistake. You can always change. And then finally, just as a reminder, every choice will either bring you closer to or further away from your goals. It’s important for a growth mindset to be more intentional with understanding how we’re making choices, navigating and perceiving our environments. So tips to identify those obstacles and why that’s important is that it helps us be more adaptable.

When we understand the obstacles that we can potentially face, then we can create little strategies or at least have awareness around what could potentially come our way and then label it as something that we really need to care about, or it may not happen. So that’s okay. So how can you identify obstacles? Well, it starts with just maybe answering some self-reflection questions. What could impact your ability to be successful? Is it budget? Is it resources? Is it something that’s out of your control, and then list and describe the impact? What does that look like? And then determine, based on the impact, if you can proceed or what you need to do to minimize it. Another thing that you can do is also reflect, think about past obstacles that you’ve experienced. Maybe sometimes you have a tendency that when someone gives you feedback to shut down or to defend, and that’s probably not working in terms of solving problems or connecting with your team.So if that was an obstacle for you in the past, what are you going to do to manage that trigger or to embrace feedback in a different way today? And then, of course, create a strategy to minimize or eliminate that obstacle.

Now, Take Action!

Now, the fifth thing that you need to do for cultivating and growth mindset is then all about action. When we take action, it quiets our anxiety. It builds our confidence and helps with decision-making and problem-solving. And then it allows us to say and get feedback. It is what we’re doing, working or not working. And if it’s not working, how can we then take those learnings and make a different choice? So tips on taking action are to remember small steps over time. It does not need to be one big grandiose step or one big outcome. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

And of course, focus on the end result, build some enthusiasm. What are you looking to achieve? How is that going to help your organization, your team, or yourself? And then, of course, celebrate those wins. Now earlier, we talked about having a plan, having that vision or goal and breaking that down into smaller goals. This is an opportunity to celebrate mini wins! Too often. We wait until the end of a project or the end of something that we’re working on, and that ends could have taken a year. It could have taken a year and a half, and we don’t even celebrate until a year and a half later when we’ve been working our tails off to achieve something. Make sure that you’re building in opportunities to win. And, of course, be consistent. We know that we’re more not consistent. We can’t expect those results that are going to get us to that big goal. So take consistent, small actions and hold yourself accountable. And of course, remember when we’re talking about taking action, give yourself permission to ask for help, do not expect that you have to do it all on your own.

Now, the final thing is that I’ll just share some tips on how you can build a growth mindset on your team. Things you can do are to practice frame storming, give your team and yourself the opportunity to look at the problem that you’re facing and think about all of the opportunities, maybe in the era of the great resignation, your team or your culture is facing the challenge of turnover. And instead of living in this place of scarcity. Oh my gosh, we’re losing people left and right. Maybe this is an opportunity to make some changes in the culture that make people want to stay.

Also, set team norms. If you want to have a growth mindset on your team, you also have to set that in the form of expectations. Hey, we don’t look at problems as stopping points. We look at problems to figure out solutions for set team norms, or another team norm could be, Hey, if you’ve got a criticism, make sure you’re also coming up with a solution. We don’t just want to talk about the negative side of things. And, of course, be transparent when you are open and honest. It builds trust. People are more engaged when you are withholding information. It breaks down trust. They can disengage. They might start looking elsewhere, or they just might simply not do what you want them to do.

And then, of course, measure outcomes, not hours. Do not just look at people as a means to an end. Think about it, and maybe this looks different for everyone. The outcomes that they’ve achieved, all of us have different strengths. All of us have different backgrounds and experiences, and our outcomes will look different. It is not a fair way to assess someone’s performance by just strictly looking at their hours. And the last thing it makes sure that you’re encouraging collaboration and displaying vulnerability showing your team that you are too, just as they are, perfectly imperfect. We’re always learning and growing. We’re not ever going to always make the right choices. Even though we always will have the right intentions, when you can display this vulnerability, it can chip away at that fear-based culture. But also says to people it’s okay, do your best. And it could remove that stress that they have of trying to be perfect. And then that can actually help them make better decisions. So, as a reminder, if we’re talking about how do we cultivate that growth mindset, I want to leave you with this. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change, and that’s from Wayne Dyer. And I hope that as you listen to this many, so today you look at all the possibilities and opportunities that are around you. And even if you’re feeling stuck, you’ll give yourself permission to say, and you know what? I can change.

How to Connect with Crestcom

I hope you enjoyed this minisode today. If you want to learn more about Crestcom, head on over to There, you can find more information about getting us in to talk to your team, whether live or virtually and conduct a two-hour leadership skills workshop. We’re talking about how we can help your team be better leaders, how they can collaborate better together, how they can help your organization solve challenges. And of course, if you know someone that could benefit from this minisode, if they just need that boost of enthusiasm, share this with them. And don’t forget to leave us a review on your favorite podcast streaming service. And Hey, last- I hope to see you at this month’s webinar. We always do or typically do webinars at Crestcom at the end of the month. So I hope to see you on that Thursday, learning about a variety of different leadership topics. Thank you so much for giving me your time and attention today. And again, I hope that you change the way that you look at things. So then, the things that you look at can change.