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It’s all in your head

Derek Murphy //September 23, 2011//

It’s all in your head

Derek Murphy //September 23, 2011//

Everyone gets stuck in a rut. It happens to us all whether we are presidents, students, managers, baseball players, or stay-at-home parents. We might have days, weeks or even months where we feel like we’ve lost our focus, take longer than necessary to achieve goals or simply become disconnected from our work.

It’s not a bad thing to admit you’re in a rut. However, it can become detrimental to your career if you don’t take action to dig yourself out of it, and make some sort of change.

So, how do you go about making such a change? First off – strive to change your leadership mindset. Specifically, aim to adjust your mindset from a fixed to growth mindset.

As much as I would like to take credit for coming up with the terms fixed and growth mindsets, it was actually coined by Stanford professor Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

In the book, she discusses how those with a fixed theory of intelligence believe they are born with a certain set of skills and their success is based on innate abilities. Plainly speaking, those people believe they either have a particular talent or they don’t.

Now I’m by no means an expert in psychology, but it appears that if someone has a fixed mindset, they are not open to self-improvement. Instead of finding ways to keep learning and evolving as a leader, they simply remain the same. Anything new is avoided because it may show weakness, and they are apprehensive to failure because it will mean a negative statement on their abilities. As a result, these individuals don’t reach their full potential.

When they get stuck in a rut, good luck to them because they will be there for a long time.

Now on the opposite end of the spectrum, those with a growth mindset view success as being based on hard work and learning. These individuals believe they can always get better at what they do and have untapped potential. They are willing to stretch their comfort zone, and look at criticism and failure as opportunities to grow.

Dweck actually argues a growth mindset allows one to live a more successful life. And for those with a fixed mindset you’re in luck because one’s mindset, of course, can be altered.

One definition of mindset is a set of beliefs or a way of thinking that determines one’s behavior, outlook and mental attitude.

Recognizing that we can choose whether or not to engage in certain behaviors is the first step toward changing your leadership mindset.

Feeling the need to adjust your mindset? Here are a few tips:

Find out more about fixed and growth mindsets

Read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. The book will give you a good background on these mindsets and the structure of the brain. In the book, Dweck gives the reader a checklist to assess one’s mindset along with details on how a particular mindset will affect all areas of your life, from business to sports and love.

Listen to the perspective of others

One of the best ways to get a clear picture of your behavior is to gather feedback from those around you. Gaining clarity on your existing performance helps identify weaknesses that need improving, as well as strengths that can be leveraged. Effective leaders are open to feedback, both positive and negative, and will use it to improve their performance.

Be open to change

Defensiveness is a major blockage to accurate and comprehensive self-knowledge. Defensive people tend to overrate themselves in the eyes of others. To break the cycle, follow the rules of good listening without responding, then write down the criticisms and reflect on which ones might have some element of truth in them. Choose one area in which to focus your development.

Recognize your strengths

Building on an earlier point, understanding what your strengths are, and how you can leverage them to help mitigate any weaker skill areas, will prove crucial in your mindset transition. But don’t allow yourself to sit on your laurels, patting yourself on the back for past accomplishments. Instead, broaden and improve upon your strengths by finding new ways to utilize these skills. Becoming a mentor where you are passing along your knowledge to others is one of the best ways to hone your existing skill sets. Pursue assignments that stretch your skills even farther.

In short, the key to getting out of a rut is committing to a change in mindset. And we are oftentimes our own worst enemy in this department. Just remember, it really is all in your head.

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