Recently, I’ve been making an in-depth study of mindset and the importance of mindset in business, as well as in life.
Fixed vs. flexible. Set personality vs. becoming a new person in the future.
Who will you be in 5 years? Read on to explore this!
What is Mindset?
Let’s start with Wikipedia’s definition:
“Mindset is an established set of attitudes, esp. regarded as typical of a particular group's social or cultural values; the outlook, philosophy, or values of a person; frame of mind, attitude, disposition. A mindset may also arise from a person's world view or philosophy of life.”
That pretty well encapsulates it, I think.
For our purposes here, I prefer to look more at one’s individual mindset and separate that from a social group’s values. When one works on a team, that group’s values are, of course, important.
My reason for separating our discussion from a social group’s values is that many of the norms in society don’t serve a person well if that person is looking to make progress in life and business.
Many social norms are designed to get people to think alike, look alike, and not stand out. This is akin to a fixed mindset. As you’ll see further on, fixed mindsets don’t serve us well. Striving to think ever bigger is what moves us forward.
In social circles, one should maintain a certain decorum, but thinking with the crowd will get the crowd's results. That will severely limit personal progress.
Everyone evolves, some more quickly and more positively than others. Who will you be five years from now? You won’t be who you are now. Take charge of your evolution!
How to Cultivate Mindset
As you can see from the definition, we all have a mindset. Many people don’t think about their mindset. They let their mind wander to whatever “shiny object” captures their attention.
If we leave a garden to its own natural development, or even if we plant seeds of unknown origin in it, the garden will be disorganized and unproductive. If we plant the seeds that will grow what we wish to harvest and take care of the garden’s weeding and cultivation, we’ll reap the results we want.
A human mind can be likened to a garden. If we pay no particular attention to what thoughts it wanders to, or if we consciously think toxic (hate, envy, anger) thoughts, our minds will not be productive. On the other hand, if we carefully consider what thoughts to entertain and “weed out” the toxic or idle thoughts, our minds become productive.
If we want to make progress in business and life, what we must cultivate is a productive mindset rather than a random one.
The Importance of a Growth Mindset
Carol Dweck wrote an excellent book entitled Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. She examines in depth the differences between fixed and growth mindsets and cites many examples of how each mindset functions in education, sports, business and arts.
Although there probably are more people who naturally have fixed mindsets, there are those who tend naturally to a growth mindset. Carol herself, a teacher, discovered she had a fixed mindset when she started researching the concept. She was able to convert that to a growth mindset, as many others have.
A fixed mindset can be imparted to a person, especially a young person if they are naturally talented and highly praised for their talent. This can cause them to feel they must always shine and not make mistakes. They can also be made to feel like a permanent failure if they’re negatively criticized.
Why It Matters
A key difference for one with a growth mindset is the ability, even eagerness, to learn from mistakes. A fixed mindset regards a mistake as a failure and a negative. A growth mindset regards a mistake as a learning experience and benefits from it.
One of Dweck’s astute observations: “It’s not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.”
From these observations, it’s pretty easy to see the importance of a growth mindset in business.
How Does Mindset Affect Business?
Business changes constantly. That’s why mindset is important in business. One with a fixed mindset might believe that “what got us here will take us forward.” In truth, what worked yesterday often fails today.
A classic example often cited of how a fixed mindset could fail in business is the buggy whip industry. If you were expert at producing buggy whips in 1900, how well would that serve you by 1930?
Another demonstration of the importance of a growth mindset in business is in management and leadership. The authoritarian approach that worked for many business managers through much of the 20th century would now be considered rough and ineffective. It might even be illegal in some cases. Treating people of the millennial generation as many were treated in the 1950s would not work. People wouldn’t tolerate it, and such a “leader” would soon find himself without help.
The importance of growth mindset in business, as in life, is ignored at one’s peril. Fixed mindset people are stuck; those with growth mindsets make great strides forward.
Note: Archived issues of The Unity Community are available here. Search that page for keywords representing your particular interest. Most articles offer suggestions for ways of improving business and personal relationships. Keep in mind that business is done by…people. Every business concern is essentially an inter-personal concern.
A “Shot in the Arm” Every Day!
Eric Lofholm, my friend, mentor and sales coach, hosts a 15-minute motivational call every business day. The call is at 7:45 AM Pacific time. Register for it here. You'll find instructions on how to join the call on Facebook, Zoom, by phone, or in a recording you can access on your schedule.
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