Growth mindset: How to bring your best self back to work in 2017

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Business advice

As we return to work from the bliss of family time, luscious beach retreats and unadulterated relaxation, it’s the perfect time to consider what we can do to bring our best self back to work in 2017.

Luckily, researchers, academics and industry leaders has increasingly begun to focus on this question of how we can make the most of how we think about our work, how we think about ourselves at work, and how we can use these insights to be at our best.

These insights are becoming fundamentally important in shaping culture, workplaces and managers views of our performance. Stanford University Professor of Psychology Carol Dweck has been at the forefront of this dynamic work for a numbers years and is credited with developing the concept of the “growth mindset“.

This can be explained as showing up with the right mindset and attitude to bring about positive outcomes, through continual learning and hard work. The growth mindset means coming to work ready to adjust and change through challenge and disciplined learning.

By contrast, a “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static and unchangeable. Buying into the growth mindset means continually going after “stretch goals” and outcomes that exceed your usual output.

Here are a few ways that you can develop a growth mindset to ensure that 2017 is a year of great personal and professional growth.

1. Realise your true potential for growth

We can start to ‘buy in’ to the growth mindset by realising that we do not have set qualities or attributes that define us. In some cases it is the boundaries (these become self-reinforcing over time) set by our trusted colleagues, family members or friends that keep us within the fixed mindset.

Henry Ford said it pretty well when he said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t … you’re right!”

One way to begin the journey is to seize the quiet time at the start of the year to write up some plans outlining where you are now, where you want to be by the end of 2017, and the steps you’ll need to take to get there.

Share these with your trusted colleagues, friends or managers and be jointly accountable for them. Consider pinning them up somewhere you will regularly see them.

2. Help others to help yourself

In his book Give and Take, Wharton Professor Adam Grant makes the case that helping others drives our success.

He says that people who are “otherish” in their motivation, combining both individual goals and community facing goals, are the most successful achievers. Think about how you might set some goals to help others regularly throughout the year. This could be with work colleagues, friends or even interest groups.

Sign up for that step, walking or giving challenge and start looking for favours that you can do to help others. If you can commit regularly to helping others and prioritising their wellbeing over your own, you are already demonstrating great leadership capabilities!

Also, consider the little things like taking the time to mentor a colleague or even tutoring someone who could benefit from your education, skills and experience.

3. Choose to be curious and brave

A key part of the growth mindset is to think of our entire work experience as a continuous learning process. Any challenges you may face become far less scary and challenging when we think of them with this mindset. Developing or embracing a love of learning will help you here.

A great way to get curious and stretch your brain is to jump onto a podcast app and find some podcasts that are aligned with your interests that can also help you excel at work. Also consider books, audio books or blogs that can open your mind to embracing new ideas.

Opening yourself to new ideas and new idea flows will help you to think emergently at work, to make connections between key concepts and to learn new work skills. It will also help you to come up with innovative approaches and solutions to some of the tougher issues that come up.

Developing a growth mindset and building some of the above approaches into your routine will help you to ensure that 2017 is a year of learning, growth and meaningful contribution to your workplace and community.

Mike Davis is the founding director of Purposeful

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Mike Davis is the founding director of purpose driven advisory firm, Purposeful.

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