How Your Mindset Determines Win or Loss

Nov 29, 2021 | Mental Health


If all the recent Thanksgiving holiday talk about gratitude and appreciation has you saying “humbug,” then pull up a chair, Ebenezer Scrooge.  Let’s have a chat.

Extrinsically, your world may suck. There’s plenty of misery to go around out there. But, it’s the same rain falling on your neighbor’s head as yours, and you don’t hear them complaining.

You may ask, “Can’t they see 2021 has been a complete disaster?”

Well, no…and yes. It’s all in how you look at it.


Two Mindsets
In her 2007 book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Stanford research psychologist and author Dr. Carol Dweck defines two main views that shape how people approach learning, motivation, and success. Each mindset is the perception we have of ourselves: Fixed or Growth.

The Fixed Mindset basically holds that your nature is established at birth and unchangeable. Your intelligence, personality, and character traits are fixed. You play the hand you’re dealt.

The Growth Mindset believes that your basic qualities can be cultivated through effort. Lifelong development allows you to overcome deficits and stretch yourself to become extraordinary.


In the Workplace
Have you ever seen a co-worker, whom you know could be a rockstar, but only punches the clock, lies low, and remains in the same position? They seem to lack initiative, even though they are qualified for a higher title and pay. Year after year, they’re passed over for promotions.

These are classic signs of a fixed mindset.

People with fixed mindsets may be content with their work, but do not actively seek out new opportunities to develop their skills. They will not venture outside their comfort zone to try something new. A fixed mindset fears failure. Underperforming would mean that the individual intrinsically lacks what it takes to succeed at that level and is, therefore, a total failure.

“Nothing ventured, nothing lost.” Why not stick with what you do best, instead of floundering through the learning curve of some higher-level responsibilities?

People with fixed mindsets are often resistant to feedback because they believe that their performance or attitudes can’t change, or shouldn’t change, because they think they are right. They are defined by their self-esteem and must prove that they are right. Anything less would be “losing.”

Employees who have a growth mindset tend to be more resilient and upwardly mobile than their counterparts, because they embrace mistakes and failure as learning opportunities.

“Why waste time proving over and over how great you are,” Dweck writes, “when you could be getting better?”

Growth mindset thinkers have a passion for stretching themselves and will persevere even when things don’t go well at first. This is the mindset that empowers some people to thrive under some of the most challenging circumstances.

Getting back to the original point. Can people around you see the failings that 2021 has brought? Yes, and with a growth mindset, they are reframing the obstacles into opportunities to persist and rise to the challenge.

The marketplace rewards performers who push forward during tough times. Embracing a growth mindset increases the likelihood of finding ways to pivot when the status quo is endangered.


The Power of Yet
If, by now, you recognize that your mindset is fixed, and you are willing to adopt a new paradigm, try adding “yet” into your lexicon. “Yet” is one little word with one big transformative thought.

The next time you’re presented with the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and climb the ladder, your internal dialog will probably be: “I can’t do that job.”

Add “yet” to that statement and it changes the dynamic of the conversation.

“I can’t do that job, yet.”

“Well, what would it take to get you ready and confident to take on more responsibility?”

“I don’t know. Training? A mentor?” you ask.

“Of course,” your manager says, “I intend to provide that every step of the way.”

You now have a development opportunity and someone to champion your rise to the next level.

It all begins with shifting the focus away from limitations in personal ability and onto your present position on the growth chart. “I can’t” connotes a permanent state of ineptitude. “I can’t, yet” promises that the aptitude is there and simply needs to be developed.


Now Put it to Work
I recognize this message may be hard to swallow if you’re just now made aware that you have been operating from a fixed mindset. It’s not intended to be an attack on your character, but rather a lifeline to personal fulfillment. Truthfully, the self-talk and coping tactics have not served you well up to this point.

You can change your mindset and your internal dialogue. As one modern philosopher put it, “The movement you need is on your shoulders.” (John Lennon. “Hey Jude” 1968)

Now is the time to stop hiding behind your work and step out of your comfort zone. When you show some initiative, you become more visible to those who are assessing talent. With visibility comes recognition and advancement.

Wouldn’t you rather be getting promotions than feeling threatened by the success of others?

Engage your trusted peers or manager to find out how your strengths fit into the big picture. Explore where growth on your part might take you.  Ask questions.  Listen to feedback without bias or defensiveness.  Give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume everything they tell you has a positive intention.

If the thought of doing this makes you feel too vulnerable – but you still want to know the answers – inclineHR offers a confidential 360 Feedback Assessment to help you reach a greater level of success you haven’t achieved yet.

Is your current state of affairs not as rosy as those around you this year? A change in mindset may help you “take a sad song and make it better.”
Building Exceptional Leaders.