We may all think that Mindset shift is a new buzz word and everyone wants to just be a part of the journey, however, Mindset theory and work started as far back as the 1970’s.
The theory can be attributed to the psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck. Her work on mindset began in the 1970s after observing stark differences in children’s reactions to challenges and setbacks. After studying the behaviour of thousands of children, Dr. Dweck coined the terms “Fixed Mindset” and “Growth Mindset”, to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. When students believe they can become smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger.
Many of us get stuck in our challenges, because we do not want to let go of our beliefs and assumptions, which are some of the foundations of mindset. Our environments influence how we think and act, and to shift from them takes a great deal of discomfort. We are afraid of the unknown, we are afraid of uncomfortable and foreign spaces. Have you noticed how when you are in a foreign place, you start looking around for a familiar face or item that can give you a sense of belonging? For example, when you travel to South Africa, you may find yourself going into a store similar to one back home such as Woolworths, simply because you are more familiar with the sizes and cuts, but the same clothing line is available in Botswana. You may also find yourself frequenting the same restaurant all because you are afraid to try new things.
Recently, the nation was introduced to the concept of Mindset Change. Whilst many have been through the process and have made great strides into a new way of thinking, this transition did not happen overnight. Most people who made the decision to change, had been mulling over it for a long time but they took a while to move from a Stagnant Mindset to a Moving or Growth Mindset. It takes self-awareness for one to realise that their status quo will not get them to succeed or reach the goals they aspire to.
To simplify my thoughts, I will reflect on Fixed and Growth Mindsets. Fixed in simple terms, is where things remain the same and there is no other way of doing things other than the current state. I must, however, indicate that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a Fixed Mindset, provided it is giving you comfort and does not impact in you achieving your desired goals. The Growth Mindset focuses on shifting from the status quo to doing things in a manner that improves your life, work, relationships, business, and any other aspect of life where progress and improvement can be realised.
A Fixed Mindset can also be attributed to comfort zones, business as usual, complacency and victim mentality which blames what is happening in your life on others and circumstances. You may hear someone saying “Rona rakgadi o re loile, dilo tsa rona ga dinke di tsamaya sentle’, translated as “Our aunt has bewitched us, hence why we are not successful.” People like to refer to their situations as being generational curses, whilst forgetting that one can always make an effort to change the situation that is reigning in their family. Introspecting and giving yourself time to analyse your situation is a powerful tool that helps eliminate assumptions and beliefs. Exposure to different environments also contributes to how we view certain aspects of life. Sometimes we remain in Fixed Mindsets because we only know the situation we are in, but being exposed to different environments can help one draw inspiration and find new ways of handling their circumstances.
Many organisations are experiencing Fixed Mindsets, where daily matters are business as usual, and no effort for growth ideas. Businesses report the same or lower results year after year and they blame it on lack of economic growth. We then forget that the economy is driven by us and how we present our commodities. Simple examples like Nokia, Block Buster and our parents neighbourhood stores, to name a few, who failed to be visionary and make their establishments relevant to new markets.
Here are a few practical things one can do to move from a Fixed to Growth mindset;
Welcome challenges. Allow yourself to welcome the challenges you face in life, because they move you out of your comfort zone and help you to improve your skills.
Life is not a sprint. Becoming an expert at anything takes time. Invest the time in learning and growing as an ongoing process. You need time to seek out and try new approaches, work with your habits, take classes, and read.
Learn from other people’s mistakes. There is no need to repeat other people’s mistakes. If you see someone has made a mistake, it is an opportunity to avoid it by doing something different. Understanding the difference between the two mindsets is very important so that one can determine where they fall and start working on fixing their mindset.
Kalake is the Head: Human Capital, Bank Gaborone