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Self-leadership - Developing a growth mindset

It is said that one’s attitude determines their altitude, and just over thirty years ago, American Psychologist and University Professor, Carol Dweck, coined the terms ‘growth mindset’ and ‘fixed mindset’.

According to Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum based on their implicit views of where ability comes from. Whilst it is believed those with a fixed mindset are focused on natural ability and talent, with a viewpoint of you either have it, or you don’t. Those who foster a positive growth mindset are much more likely to succeed in life as they acknowledge that intelligence and skill can be learned and developed over time.

Credit to Dweck’s research into the theories of intelligence, it is now considered that a growth mindset can be beneficial to all areas of an individual’s life, including school and education, relationships, business decisions and career aspirations, sport and various other talent pursuits. Individuals that demonstrate a growth mindset and apparent belief that action can change outcome are naturally a more attractive consideration for recruiters, employers and business leaders. In contrast, those who fixate on avoiding challenge and conflict for fear of failing, limit their possibilities because they believe success is based solely on their innate ability to do something.

In both sport and business, a growth mindset is a major principle of personal success, and our latest thought-piece offers insight into self-leadership, and seven proven strategies for developing and fostering a growth mindset.

Cultivate a sense of purpose Purpose is one of the most intrinsic elements of success. Whether you’re an athlete or a non-athlete, having personal purpose is paramount to your existence, and it’s also critical to fostering a growth-mindset. Those who can demonstrate a clear vision of self-purpose often have ambitious aspirations. They see the bigger picture when working towards achieving their life goals, and they take the necessary action to ensure their pursuit to happiness is successful. Cultivating a sense of purpose is essential to developing a solid growth-mindset. Ask yourself regularly if what you’re working on right now is steering you in the direction you want to take. If you frequently find the answer to this question is no, it might be time to reprioritise and better understand the purpose behind your decisions.

Focus on the present, not the end result Good things come to those who wait. It’s important not to fixate and focus too much on where you want to be. Instead, focus on what needs to happen to get there. Accept that rising to the top takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight and even if it could, you’d miss out on so many opportunities to learn. Those who have a growth mindset enjoy the learning process, they are excited by getting the most out of each experience and they understand the key to real success is learning invaluable lessons along the way. Focus on the present moment, enjoy the process and the end result will come quicker than expected.

Accept that mistakes are not failures In the famous words of American Basketball player, LeBron James, “You can’t be afraid to fail. It’s the only way to succeed.” Our self-development is a continuous journey and learning is never something to be rushed through. Inevitably, you’ll make many mistakes throughout life and you need to be willing to appreciate those challenges as experiences rather than failures. Making mistakes simply means you’re on the right track and allows you the provision to improve what you’re doing so that you’re better prepared to achieve your goals. Those with a fixed mindset might shy away from the challenge, but a growth mindset will see you prosper beyond your mistakes and will also provide an opportunity for you to learn from the mistakes of others too.

Accept constructive criticism It can be easy to take criticism personally, but often when someone offers insight into your performance, it can be given with the view to help you improve. People with a growth mindset are much more willing to onboard constructive criticism, because they understand the more they know, the better they can perform but those with a fixed mindset can often perceive criticism as a personal attack and allow this to stand in their way of success. Remember, when someone offers advice or knowledge on how to strengthen your own performance, it is usually done with good intent. Accept this, utilise it and understand that practice makes perfect.

Seek adventure before approval When you’re attempting to succeed, whether it’s in sport, business or any other venture, you place an internal demand on yourself to impress. Most of the time this is unnecessary, as the expectations of those around you aren’t usually as tough as those you place on yourself. Instead, focus less on how others perceive your performance, ability and skill and invest in the experience of developing your understanding and knowledge. Those with a growth mindset prioritise the adventure before approval, they know that when they are too concerned about seeking the approval of others, they miss out on many opportunities to grow.

Opportunities, not obstacles The simplest way to reaching your full potential is to view challenges as opportunities. In life, we are continually presented with difficult decisions and unexpected challenges. Do we persevere with the road we’ve taken, or take up the offer of a new career role? Do we commit to retraining or practice more what already we know? Whatever the challenge or circumstance, view each one as an opportunity to develop and grow. The more challenges we accept, the more opportunities we’re presented with – people with a growth mindset will appreciate that challenges are not roadblocks on the way to success, but instead a provision to discover something new.

Set the next milestone When you foster a growth mindset, your actions and decisions will naturally lead you to your interim milestones. Instead of focusing on the end goal, allow yourself the time to gradually tick off the milestones one by one and then set a new one for each goal you achieve. The most successful people stay motivated in their professional and personal lives by setting realistic and achievable targets. The journey of self-growth is never a finished project because there are always new goals to strive for and bigger things to achieve. Life isn’t a race, so focus on learning well, not fast. Take time to appreciate your accomplishments too, however a significant or trivial part they offer to your grand plans for the future. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the life ahead.”

The transition from sport to business is a personal journey for each athlete; however, the most successful of transitions are the ones where athletes have fostered and demonstrated a growth mindset, allowing for a prosperous introduction to new and exciting corporate roles.

To find out more about the athletes we’ve placed, read our athlete stories here.


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