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Have you ever found yourself in a new situation wondering if you can overcome your nerves and succeed? Whether it's your first university class or a job interview, it's natural to feel some trepidation. Sometimes it's not about getting things right on the first try, but having a positive outlook, treating it as a learning experience and knowing that you'll continue to improve.
According to Carol Dweck, the researcher at Stanford University who coined the terms, there are two basic mindsets that shape our lives: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
In a fixed mindset, individuals have the belief that intelligence is static and inherent. In contrast, individuals who develop a growth mindset believe they can grow and succeed with effort, teaching and persistence.
Glin Bayley is the Founder of Heart of Human, an organisation that coaches business leaders on how to succeed and she believes developing a growth mindset is key for success.
"It's an opportunity to create the best version of yourself. It is the belief that you are in control of your own ability to learn and live your best life," says Glin.
Dr Sven Hansen, Founder of The Resilience Institute believes that a growth mindset is central to everything that we do.
"It is an effective and widely practiced strategy that has many benefits. It helps you become resilient in the face of challenge or adversity. It is the discovery of a life full of fun and excitement," says Sven.
With a shared passion for helping organisations and professionals continue their career growth and lifelong learning journey, Dr Sven Hansen and Glin Bayley share their insights on what it takes to develop a growth mindset.
Be open to the possibilities
It's important to recognise your growth journey begins with you.
"Developing a growth mindset is like a treasure hunt. It is an opportunity to keep discovering new prizes, and new presents for yourself as you grow that can help you find more fun and enjoyment in life."
Glin believes that by thinking of growth as a journey, you will be able to find enjoyment and excitement in opportunities to learn and develop your talents in your studies, career or personal life.
"If you have a passion for something, you are more likely to put in the extra effort to go above and beyond to develop your skills. A growth mindset is saying 'I might not have a talent like that, but I've got the ability to cultivate a talent for anything that I want to achieve and do'," says Glin.
Sven says being open to learning and growth also means stepping outside of your comfort zone. While this may seem daunting, it will help you learn how to adapt to new situations long-term.
"You have to be very deliberate in setting really clear and specific goals on how you want to grow. You have to be willing to step a little bit outside of your comfort zone. The willingness to give it a go, and the beginning of practice can be life changing," Sven says.
Small steps lead to big change
While acting in the moment is a great way to learn, thinking ahead and making small steps is also a good approach to take, especially when starting to develop a growth mindset.
Sven suggests that to understand the process of growth, you must start with a small goal that will show you success is possible. With nearly half of Australian school kids experiencing worrying levels of exam stress1, Sven says that something as simple as learning to slow your breathing will help you feel calmer and less anxious.
"In the case of anxiety, it's the play of fear in the body and when that emotion of fear plays out, people find themselves worrying excessively, often in repetitive loops about the future. If you understand the link between fear and worry and how it all loops into anxiety, you can start to look at your breathing in the moment and learn to slow it down. Once you've done that, you'll have acquired growth in the capability of breathing into a calmer state.
"Then you'll start to think 'Well okay, I can take some time to prep, have some exercise before that event, I will feel calmer,' and of course if you practise that and you get a small improvement, in the case of someone with anxiety, that's profoundly helpful," says Sven.
Developing a plan of action helps you become more receptive to growth. Glin recommends devising a growth strategy that includes planning actionable steps towards short-term goals that challenge your thinking and behaviour.
"Plan to do something different each day. It can be as simple as choosing a different route to school, meeting a new person, having a coffee with someone you haven't had time with before, or reading a new book," says Glin.
"It is about discovering something new and allowing yourself to learn something new about yourself."
Find the lesson in every situation
Sometimes the biggest enemy to our personal or professional success is ourselves.
Sven acknowledges that everyone faces challenges, but how they react depends on the individual. He believes that by understanding that it is only human to make mistakes, and learn from them, that you are able to continue to grow.
"Everyone remembers their challenging moments. They are great moments of our life where we learn about ourselves, and are able to develop a cognitive strategy to grow and keep going forward," says Sven.
By being open to learning from your experiences and mistakes, you are able to find new strategies to help you cope with change. Whether you failed an important exam, or didn't get the job or internship that you were working towards, Glin highlights the importance of building resilience in the face of challenges and always being willing to try again.
"The resilience element of developing a growth mindset is the acknowledgement that there are always going to be obstacles that get in the way. The environment changes around us, and things happen that we don't expect. Resilience is about recalculating your path, and recalibrating your energy, your enthusiasm and your actions to still reach the destination, but perhaps in a different way than originally thought," she says.