– a presentation made by J2Ex Program Developer Nina E. Mapili on the occasion of the joint graduation and TCYB certificate presentation ceremony at ISCAM, Antananarivo, Madagascar, 22 March, 2013.
“I’d like to share some things I learned recently that resonated strongly with me, and that I believe are relevant to a group like this.
It’s all about mindset – and about how we live our lives.
Many people believe that you are what you’re born with: you’re smart, talented, you have a great character – or the opposite – and you can’t do anything to change it.
In her 2006 book “Mindset: the New Psychology of Success”, Prof. Carol Dweck of Stanford University writes, however, that research over the last 20 years shows that though you have a specific genetic endowment, “people have more capacity for lifelong learning and brain development than ever thought…” (Mindset, p. 10)
Moreover, she emphasizes, “The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value” (Mindset, p.10)
Prof. Dweck’s research indicates that there are 2 types of mindset: the fixed mindset, and the growth mindset.
If you believe your characteristics are fixed, if you have a fixed mindset, you feel the need to continually prove yourself, to validate your self-image. Every situation is evaluated in light of how you will feel, how you will look, relative to your fixed perception of yourself.
“Will I look like a winner… or a loser?”
In contrast, a person with a growth mindset sees the hand that he or she has been dealt – the genetic endowment – simply as the starting point for development. A person with a growth mindset understands “that everyone can change and grow through application and experience”. (Mindset, p. 11)
Not everyone can become an Einstein, but with years of “passion, toil and training” many, many things are possible!
How about you?
Do you invest a lot of energy in creating, polishing and protecting a specific image of yourself? (“I’m smart, talented, infallible…,”. )
Do you avoid situations that could put that image at risk? In other words in which you could fail?
These are all characteristics of a fixed mindset.
Alternatively, do you see life as a journey, with exciting challenges – and opportunities to learn and improve?
Do you set very challenging tasks – very high goals – for yourself? Do they require such a stretch that you may, despite making your very best effort, not achieve them?
As Prof Dweck says, “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is a hallmark of the growth mindset.”
Don’t get me wrong; one can go far in life with a fixed mindset. There is even a “sickness” associated with it: the “CEO disease”. Many of you are, or aspire to becoming, a CEO. What do you think are the symptoms of this malady?
People with the CEO disease need to be seen as all-knowing and perfect (so much smarter than all others). They want to be idolized; they don’t tolerate people who know more than they do. And if something goes wrong, it was clearly someone else’s fault – the failure can most certainly not be ascribed to their own lack of application!
On the other hand, there are CEOs with a growth mindset. These are people who work very hard to achieve their goals. They surround themselves with other growth mindset people, and they focus on developing them. Growth minded CEOs are more likely to make bold, visionary moves than those with fixed mindsets. Fear of making a mistake does not hold them back as much as it does someone who sees their image on the line.
What type do you think is more sustainably successful? What type are you? Or what type will you be?
Do you find that you have a fixed mindset, but suspect that a growth mindset would probably serve you better? If so, I have good news for you! You can change!
Prof. Dweck, initially a fixed mindset person who used to avoid opportunities if they could entail failure, says that she has changed – for the better. At the same time, she notes that the change entails hard work and dedication.
Why do I talk about mindset? What does it have to do with the Journey to Excellence – the framework within which many of you know me?
Before I read Prof. Dweck’s book, I knew that much of what the Journey to Excellence was about had to do with mindset. We speak of helping people – individuals and management teams – to develop an “entrepreneurial mindset”. The “Take Charge of Your Life!” workshops specifically target “people wanting to lead an enterprising life”.
What’s an enterprising person? Well, I understand a person with an enterprising mindset to be one who is pro-active, who actively looks for opportunities, and then uses their strengths to take advantage of them. And by the way, research shows that people with a growth mindset have a more exact understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses than those with fixed mindsets. Think of the consequences!
An enterprising person is goal oriented, willing to take risks; he or she is able to move beyond setbacks, using them as opportunities to grow, not threats to their self-image.
In my view, that is another way to define a growth-oriented person.
And of course this mindset can apply not only to a person, but also to an organization. In the Journey to Excellence program, we speak a lot about “continuous improvement”. On the bottom of every workbook page it says: “Excellence is a moving target!”
I strongly suspect that you are here today because you have a growth mindset. You have decided to stretch and improve yourself. You probably had some setbacks along the way. But since you are here, you must have overcome them.
So my challenge to you is: continue to stretch yourselves! Keeping your goals in mind, look for opportunities to grow and improve. Life is a Journey, make the most of it!”