Growth mindset and positive mental attitude - essential business partners
You can do this!... Keep your chin up… Cheer up…
How often have you been fed knee-jerk platitudes in the name of encouragement? How do they help you? If you’re anything like me, they’re plain irritating. They’re also not what you need at that particular moment, although well-meaning friends and colleagues intend to give you a boost.
So as a business owner, company director or people manager, what do you really need in moments of high stress, big decisions, or audacious choices? You know that walking your talk is good. Having confidence is always a buoyancy aid. If you’ve worked on your own goals and self development, you know that if you can link in to your purpose, and access your values, you will be on firm ground.
Introducing the positive mindset
There is much talk these days about having a strong mindset. We hear a lot about our positive mental attitude (or PMA), our success mindset, growth mindset, metaskill….. and some grit doesn’t go amiss either.
Do you have a Growth Mindset or a Fixed Mindset?
Carol Dweck from Stanford University is known for her work on mindset. According to Dweck, when an individual has a fixed mindset, they believe that their basic abilities, intelligence, and talents are predetermined and fixed. In a growth mindset, however, individuals believe their intelligence can be developed with effort and learning. This makes them stronger, they put in more effort which leads to higher achievement.
How do I develop a strong mindset?
I want to shine a light on the qualities that BUILD a strong mindset. There are a number of resources that I consider foundational - those essential business partners - to provide that rock-solid base for your high dreams, your goals, and your personal satisfaction.
These will ensure you have the focus, awareness and resilience to lift you and carry you through the up’s and down’s that inevitably come with running a business. Together they build our mindset:
1. Be Conscious
It is very easy, when running your own business, to get so tangled up in the detail that we lose sight of what we’re aiming at. If we don’t notice our own thoughts, they can lead us down all-consuming but blinkered avenues. This is where it's important to exercise exquisite self-awareness. Are we in control, or is something controlling us?
2. Be Intentional
Once we are more self-aware of how we are being hijacked by our own thoughts, emotions or triggers, we can open ourselves up to choice. We can react to a situation, drown in a puddle of self-pity, or to chase a non-existent unicorn. Or we can proactively choose to make a more considered decision that has strong intention behind it.
When we are intentional, we can relate to our values in a more tangible way. We are intentional with the behaviours we employ, and we can more actively channel our efforts into activities that are consistent with our values, and that also bring us joy.
3. Be Positive
The golden rule is to aim for 5 times more positive thoughts than negative. Being able to flip from a worrying thought to a happier idea is a technique which, if it becomes a habit, will open up many new possibilities through creating this new perspective.
Of course, we can overdo the positive and this is why we’re not banning the negative. It is about a healthy balance. Being delusionally positive in the face of overwhelming evidence can be fatal. This is why being conscious and intentional about everything we do is so important.
4. Be Consistent
So many business owners, myself included, know they flip-flop from one strategy to another. It might be a shiny new object, it might simply be too many fantastic opportunities available to us. We might not know whether our chosen path is right, and so we may give up on a sales drive just before we get traction. I’ve lost count of the marketing initiatives I’ve seen flounder by week 3 - never mind New Year’s resolutions! If we have consistency embedded in our mindset we will evaluate those opportunities more consciously, and have the capacity to commit in the longer term, having considered the greater good.
5. Be Grateful
Be thankful for what we are, who we have around us, and our small successes. This is such an important quality in building resilience, and creating a positive mindset. I have a gratitude journal which I whip out and read if I’m in a place of inertia and lethargy. It immediately increases the dopamine in my brain and gives me more positive energy. Likewise, science has shown that the mere act of smiling can lift your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system and possibly even prolong your life
Transformative change can happen:
I recently coached a talented individual who was having a number of issues at work and in their social life. Everything bad seemed to happen to them - they were involved in a difficult conflict with work colleagues, and felt no-one was supporting them. They’d moved to a new city for a better career, but the culture change was difficult to adjust to. Nothing was bringing them joy, but they’d committed to a particular path, and so buried themselves in ‘doing’ things.
- We started working on self-awareness and gratitude.
- Positivity was a challenge until they realised how much they were at choice.
- They widened their perspective on difficult situations, becoming less closed-minded
- Being more intentional with their choices led to clear and motivating goals.
- Positivity became easier
- Progress towards their goals became faster
- Tough choices still existed, but they had a positive mindset to maintain confidence and clarity
It all comes down to choice.
How we want to be with opportunity, with challenge, or with uncertainty? Once we are aware we are at choice, we can harness the power of our mindset to decide on our future direction.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right”