Make Up Your Mind(set) to Grow

As Front and Centered subscribers know, I often frame my leadership observations by sharing stories from my personal life. Take my son’s desire to play baseball in college, for example.

Each year, we attend various college baseball camps and visit any colleges he may be considering in that city. We have a lot of time together, which is very special to me; it allows me to reconnect not just with my son, but with life outside of work.Growth Mindsets Pull Quote

During the camp, parents have a lot of free time. Those of you who know me, know I am not good with free time. I usually get on email and start sending “to dos” or checking on the status of ones I sent previously. My family hates it and I am fairly certain my coworkers are not huge fans.

Recently, we were in Boston on one of these trips. It’s a great college town – you can’t help but feel young and intellectual there. On this particular trip, I was alone for several hours. I decided that instead of hitting email, I would hit the cafes for a little espresso and reading. While in the café, I read a magazine my wife had given me, Scientific American Mind. (Anyone else carry this one around?)

In it was the article The Remarkable Reach of “Growth Mind-Sets,” which was fascinating. The basic premise is that a person’s intelligence is not fixed; it can grow. A growth mind-set is a belief that you can grow your abilities by believing that you can.  If you do not have a subscription to access the article, I encourage you to listen to a similar interview on Harvard Business Review featuring insights from Carol Dweck.

No age restrictions

As the article points out, people with a growth mind-set are “not worried about looking intelligent or what people may think if they fail. Therefore, they take on more challenging activities, persist longer and are more resilient in the face of setbacks.”

The research shows this is true with adults, as well as children. While one of the key ingredients is the individual’s own belief; another is his/her surroundings and support. Wow, I thought. How do I stack up as a parent? Am I providing the environment at home that allows my kids to have a growth mind-set or am I (even unintentionally) signaling with my words and actions that their abilities and intellect are fixed?

What about as a leader? What support and surroundings am I creating for my team to have a growth mind-set? What about recruiting – how can we do a better job recruiting for professionals with a growth mind-set?

A chance to grow

Parent or leader, these are deep questions – ones that take more than a single article and shot of espresso to answer. But after reading the article, my perspective has changed. I will actively start my journey to creating a growth mind-set. I encourage all of you to start your journey by checking out the article. Let me know what you think.