A growth mindset is the most important element of high performance in business. It is essential for discovering and adopting the best ideas.
Today’s business world is more fast-paced than it ever has been, with no signs of slowing down. That’s why consistent high performance can’t happen with vague goals. While it is critical for top-level professionals to focus on strategies and tactics, many fail to consider one of the most important factors in high performance: mindset. Mindset plays a crucial role in creating not just success, but continual improvement that pays dividends long term.
As a human performance specialist, I’ve seen first-hand the importance of mindset in business performance. Success comes from 5 per cent strategy and 95 per cent mindset. It’s a big claim, but I have worked with companies and individuals that have (apparently) the best and most bulletproof strategies, yet fail due to a poor mindset.
Before building any strategy and tactical plan with any person or group of people, we first work together on their mindset and keep reinforcing the simple tools throughout their journey to ensure they achieve their audacious goals with results that stick. This article will explore how you can make the switch to help you achieve bigger and better goals.
“A person with a growth mindset will ask a lot of questions that will eventually lead to the golden solution.”
It’s important to understand that mindset is not just about positive thinking, it is also about understanding and managing the entirety of your beliefs, thoughts, feelings and actions to achieve what you want. Emotional management is key to long-term great performance.
American psychologist Carol Dweck introduced the idea of a fixed mindset vs a growth mindset in the early ’70s. A fixed mindset is one that is closed off, based on the belief that your intelligence, skills, abilities and knowledge cannot change after childhood. A growth mindset is based on the belief that these things can be developed and improved. If you adhere to a growth mindset, you can open yourself up to embracing challenges, risks and obstacles, and see them as opportunities to grow and learn.
It’s easy to see how a fixed mindset can negatively affect business performance. If an individual believes that their abilities are fixed, then they will struggle to find motivation to improve and take risks. I’ve always maintained the belief that with a fixed mindset, you’re not just stagnating, you’re degenerating.
On the other hand, a growth mindset can lead to a greater willingness to learn and adapt. It’s a recognition that life is a journey and putting in the effort day by day will yield results beyond our imagination.
Identifying a growth mindset
When you ask people if they have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset, most will claim to have a growth mindset. So, how do you identify quickly whether you have a growth or fixed mindset in different situations? The answer is simple. If you are being presented with an idea or concept and you hear or feel yourself immediately rejecting an idea before entertaining the possibility, you are in that moment engaging with a fixed mindset.
Quick statements like ‘That would never work’, ‘But you don’t understand the situation’, or ‘It’s different for you’, or even blaming your external circumstances for reasons as to why something won’t work, are all signs of a fixed mindset. Alternatively, if you hear a new idea and you are consciously willing to entertain it before rejecting or accepting it, then you are employing a growth mindset.
Why is it so important to recognise this for peak performance? You need to do things differently and step into the unknown to be creative. Dr Joseph Dispenza once stated that “the brain processes 400 billion bits of information a second, but we are only aware of 2000 of those”. Those 2000 bits that we are aware of will depend on many things, including your environment, your upbringing, your experiences and your DNA. At a subconscious level, our minds will quickly look for and choose information based on what you have known from the past and what feels familiar.
In essence, if we allow our subconscious mind to do all the heavy lifting, we will never question anything new, and we will keep on interpreting any given situation based on what we already know. If we want to achieve something new and different, we have to do something new and different, which means we have to employ our growth mindset and not immediately reject new ideas. This is possible through becoming consciously aware of our thoughts and biases.
How to develop a growth mindset
Practising awareness and reflection is a key strategy in developing a growth mindset. Begin your day with journal writing, detailing your accomplishments and the biggest challenges you are facing right now. Along with that, write down the things for which you are grateful. Being aware of the great parts of our finite lives gives us the strength to grow and improve.
Reflection allows you to identify areas of both your personal and professional life that are affecting your thoughts and beliefs. It is about replacing the things that hold us back with beliefs and plans to empower us and bring us forward, allowing us to ask all the right questions. This is one of the most critical pieces of the puzzle. A person with a growth mindset will ask a lot of questions that will eventually lead to the golden solution.
Stress management and support
Managing stress is also incredibly important. Let’s face it, stress can’t be avoided. It’s a part of the business world. It’s a reminder that we’re human and we have limitations. When you allow it to become unmanaged, however, performance will be affected. Burnout is very real, and no one is mentally strong enough to avoid it. To consistently achieve high performance, mindfulness and stress management need to be used. Find your outlet or hobby to give yourself balance.
Another aspect that helps with a growth mindset is surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people. Associate with people who also have a growth mindset and are committed to learning and personal development. Additionally, using mentors or coaches to provide continual accountability, guidance and support keeps you on the right track.
Lastly, learning to embrace failure and view it as an opportunity to learn and grow is the cornerstone of developing a growth mindset. Failure is an inevitable part of the business world and beyond, and it’s important to redefine the way we view it. Failure should be seen as our path to success. When you begin to view failure as an opportunity to learn and our road to success, it builds resilience and helps you and the team look at alternatives. One idea will build on another, leading to your ultimate solution.
Always remember, mindset plays a crucial role in business performance. Developing a growth mindset, practising self-reflection, managing stress, and approaching failure without fear are the stepping stones to creating high-performance individuals and teams. It is a process that spans years but requires daily focus, and it is the key to unlocking your full potential and achieving success in your career and business.
This story first appeared in issue 41 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine