June 2, 2021

8 Practices for a “Growth Mindset”—to get what we Want out of Life.

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Mindset is king, or rather queen!

If you are looking to achieve big things in life and business, you are going to want to put some effort into developing a growth mindset. I say an effort because mindset is a practice; it is rooted in a system of beliefs and we notice it most often when things get tough.

As a new social worker in the field, I thought I knew everything. I was sure that at 23 years old, I was more skilled than my counterparts and certainly knew more about parenting than my clients who needed parenting support. After all, I had been babysitting since I was 12 years old, was a straight-A student, and was a master problem solver.

Then one day, I went out to meet with a lovely woman who had a nine-year-old son. Mom was in recovery for about nine months after a long battle with heroin. Her nine-month sobriety date happened to also coincide with her husband’s overdose. I was called in to guide her in helping her child cope with the loss of his dad.

I learned at that moment that I didn’t actually know anything. That, due to my fear of being wrong, I had been living in a fixed mindset. I was operating from an assumption that I couldn’t possibly learn anything else, that I knew all I would ever need to do this job.

When I made the choice to open myself up to new things, to lean into taking bigger risks by admitting, out loud to my client, that I did not have all the answers, my growth began.

My work with this woman and her son has stuck with me 20 years later. The memories of her patience and compassion, with my young ignorant ass, makes me lean in a little more to the growth mindset every day. The awareness and recognition that growth mindset, and mindset in general, is rooted in the actions we take and the practices we put in place to cultivate the headspace we want to share with the world.

With the understanding that mindset is a practice, and that practice implies a need to work on something, over and over, I have pulled together my top eight practices for cultivating the growth mindset.

  1. Take Risks: A key component of the growth mindset is the willingness to take on challenges and see them through. Leaning into things that are hard, that lack certainty, and that allow you to be uncomfortable will work to wire the brain for growth.
  2. Reflect: Take time to reflect upon your hard work, your success, and your struggles. Actually setting aside time to simply notice your experience will allow for more space to practice the hard stuff like taking risks. When you realize that nothing bad happens when you lean in, you will be more likely to do it over and over again.
  3. Find Your Purpose: When the actions you take are aligned with something larger, like your purpose, it makes taking action easier. When things get hard, and you want to stomp your foot and scream “I can’t,” being clear on your purpose will offer you a reason to keep going. Your purpose will help light you up and allow you to take action consistently.
  4. Change Your Vocabulary by adding “Yet”: How you talk to yourself inside your head and out loud matters. When you tell yourself you are not capable of something, or even that you are not “there,” your mind believes you and makes that an absolute. When you add “yet” to the statement, that implies a willingness to get there and allows space for growth.
  5. Ask for Feedback: Speaking of reflecting, bringing other people into the equation will offer a different perspective on your gifts, talents, and weaknesses. Getting feedback is not only good practice in business, it allows us to see our blind spots in relationships too.
  6. Shift Your Attitude: Tap into positive and optimistic thinking. Negative and pessimistic thinking cultivates a stuck, or fixed mindset, a belief that you have already accumulated all the knowledge and skill you will ever have. The opposite also holds true, when you focus on the positive—your mind naturally goes to growth.
  7. Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the tool that will allow you to practice all these others tools. A regular practice allows you to improve focus and concentration and improves your ability to observe and reflect as well as make intentional choices when taking action.
  8. Find Your Inner Grit: This sh*t is hard. Taking consistent action to stay in a space of growth and abundance takes diligence. A little help from your inner grit will keep you slogging through the messiness of life and business regardless of how hard it gets.

As you develop a consistent practice, where you put in effort daily to cultivate a growth mindset, the major shifts will start to happen inside of a few weeks. As you notice shifts, I encourage you to explore each strategy a little more. Some strategies will be easier for you to practice than others; I suggest starting with the easier, and working your way up to the more challenging.

For most, getting feedback is a little more challenging as it opens you up to your story, which may include fear of rejection. So just notice if resistance arises and simply record it. Make note, and keep going.

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