Nature or nurture? It’s what you believe that counts.

Are we born smart or do we achieve smartness? Well, both actually…  IF you believe you can develop smarts, you will. It’s a mental model that Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset.” But IF you believe your IQ is inherited, set, and immutable, then stupid is as stupid does. Dweck calls this a “fixed mindset.” It is the core theme of her fascinating book and really is as simple as “what you believe about your ability to think and learn determines how successful you are in business and in life generally.”

Your mindset defines failure. A fixed mindset drives you to prove yourself constantly, thus validating your beliefs. You are optimistic and confident except when it comes to coping with anything less than perceived success. Failures such as getting fired, not making the exam cut, or losing a game are seen as problem situations, permanent “black eyes” on the face of your self-esteem. A lot of the fixed mindset is about beating others.

In contrast, a growth mindset is when we are aware of our limitations and see our failures as opportunities to learn and improve. Dynamic steps towards your goals are not failures! Rather, they are incremental improvements masquerading as short-term missteps. Much of the growth mindset is focused on outdoing your personal best.

People are complex, and it is too simplistic to say we are either growth or fixed mindset leaders all the time, in every situation. Many people have a fixed mindset in limited arenas of life. You hear it when they say things like, “I can’t do math,” “I don’t do languages,” or “IT is not for me.

Many a fixed mindset person can succeed because it drives people to be workaholics to validate themselves. It’s not a failing, but with understanding and knowledge of the two mindsets, you can choose the most appropriate approach in any given situation.

The Business Mindset…

At PBC we always say that “You are your business.” As the CEO, you are the foremost cultural influence from top to bottom inside your enterprise. It’s a heady psychological position, and too many leaders fall prey to what Dweck calls “CEO disease.” This is where a leader’s need to be seen as infallible prevents them from seeing the problems and faults in their business vision and strategies. It leads them to undervalue self-development or training and to rely on the sycophantic feedback of the “yes-men” they recruit around themselves.

Here are a number of top tips to develop a growth mindset…

Vaccine against CEO disease⚫  The only vaccine against CEO disease is to constantly seek honest feedback and be open to confronting your mistakes and failings. Dweck cites the case of Enron’s leadership, who were in thrall to “talent,” recruiting only highfliers who were very busy concealing their mistakes and shortcomings to the tune of millions of dollars.
Compulsory questions in all team meetings⚫  Make the following questions compulsory in all team meetings. “What did we do well?” “Where exactly did we come up short?” “What will we do differently next time?”
Learn from your mistakes⚫  Learn from your mistakes by ensuring you fix your failures and never seek to soothe your self-esteem. We call this “kicking out the head trash.” A fixed mindset takes both positive and negative feedback inappropriately. When people are told repeatedly how smart they are, they stop challenging themselves out of fear of losing their reputation. When they are told they’re stupid, they never try new challenges because they believe they are not good enough.
Never look for people who perform worse than you to feel better about yourself⚫  Never look for people who perform worse than you to feel better about yourself. It’s much better to double down on acquiring new skills and knowledge and rise to the next challenge.
Enterprises grow best when the leader has a growth mindset and values⚫  Enterprises grow best when the leader has a growth mindset and values…
o Honestly owning up to mistakes.
o Learning and development.
o The effort that WILL deliver success.
o Smart people in every role.
o Leading by example.
o Team contributions over ego.
We are our thoughts and beliefs. Is it time to change them for more success and a better business life? A fixed mindset in business is small-time, constrictive, and limiting, whereas a growth mindset enterprise is full of possibilities for empowered and energized people. Call PBC for a free consultation on choosing your best mindset for success.