Rethink What’s Possible: Unlock The Power Of A Growth Mindset

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Author notes: People will often ask me why I spend so much time discussing “mindset” when I’m trying to help people improve their health. The answer is obvious. Our thoughts control our beliefs, our beliefs control our behaviours, and our behaviours dictate our state of health. It would be irresponsible to consider myself a “holistic” coach or practitioner without considering this. You have to influence one, before you can truly influence the other.

Episode Quick Links:

  • What the hell is a “growth” mindset?
  • Growth vs fixed mindset: Know the difference.
  • Why your life will improve with this mindset shift.
  • EXAMPLES: Growth mindsets in everyday life.
  • 3 things you need to stop worrying about.
  • How to get started in the next 7 days.

What the hell is a growth mindset..?

”You need to adopt a growth mindset”….

Spoken by every influencer or personal development guru around the globe.

Whilst the message gets repetitive, I don’t want the concept to lose it’s shine. Because it’s true. You need to adopt a growth mindset.

The concept of a growth mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck. It refers to the belief that people “can develop abilities and intelligence through dedication, effort and learning”. Essentially, it’s the belief that we can all continue to improve, no matter where we’re starting from.

Know the difference: Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

People with a FIXED mindset:

  • Believe their abilities and brainpower are static or “just how it is”.
  • Avoid challenges because they don’t want to look stupid.
  • View effort as pointless and get discouraged easily.
  • Ignore feedback and get threatened by other’s success.

People with a GROWTH mindset:

  • Believe that they can improve at something with practice.
  • See challenges as an opportunity to get better at something.
  • Understand that effort is required to master new skills.
  • Learn from feedback and get inspired by others’ success.
Images sourced through substack.

4 reasons you need to change.

1 – RESILIENCE:

  • The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology tells us that people who are more “resilient” adapt better to new situations and can more easily overcome setbacks. By having a growth mindset and internally viewing obstacles or challenges as opportunities to improve, you’re constantly flexing your resilience muscles and developing skills. Yes, even being resilient is a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time.

2 – BRAINPOWER:

  • People with growth mindsets simply achieve more. Studies have shown that students who think this way, are more motivated to learn and therefore achieve higher grades in their studies (Psychological Science). There is a lesson to be gained in every situation, it’s up to you to learn it. Otherwise you’ll continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over… does this sound familiar?

3 – MOTIVATION:

  • The best form of motivation comes from within. If you’re from a passion and desire to continually learn and grow, you’re more likely to be self-motivated. You’re less likely to worry about external rewards or validation, and more likely to enjoy the development process along the way. The Journal of Educational Psychology studies have shown this leads to happier, more engaged people in both their personal and professional lives.

4 – MENTAL HEALTH:

  • Having a positive outlook is linked with lower rates of stress, anxiety and depression (Journal of Experimental Psychology). It’s not a stretch to link a growth mindset with a more positive overall outlook on life. I’ll often work with people to help shift their perspective, or manage expectations. By creating alternate and new perspectives we can improve our coping skills and negate the negative toll that difficult situations typical have on our mental health.

3 Real-life case studies

CASE STUDY #1: Education

Background:

  • Maria is a 1st-year uni student who’s always struggled with maths. She didn’t do well with it at high school, it just never clicked and she’s just accepted she’s just not good at it.

Fixed Mindset:

  • Maria would avoid asking questions in class because she didn’t want to look stupid.
  • She’d get embarrassed about her results, using them to prove her point that she just wasn’t good at maths.
  • As a result, Maria was only looking at university courses that didn’t involve maths subjects (limiting her career options)

The Trigger:

  • Maria attended a webinar on building a growth mindset and starts to rethink her approach to maths. She learns that intelligence can be developed with effort and practice.

The Action Steps:

  • Seeking help: Maria attended additional tutorial sessions and sought out study-groups. Seeing them as opportunities to get better rather than admitting she was a failure.
  • Embracing challenges: Instead of avoiding the hardest maths problems, she’d tackle them first.
  • Learning from feedback: Instead of getting defensive or embarrassed, Maria used her results as feedback for learning. She’d review her mistakes to understand what areas she needed to make improvements in.
  • Persevering: Even if she got poor test results, Maria reminded herself that every setback is an opportunity to improve. She’d clarify concepts she was struggling with, and adjust her study schedule to strengthen her weak points.
  • Reflection: Over the semester, Maria kept a journal where she’d write down how she’d overcome specific maths problems. This style of reflection helps her see continued progress and reinforces her belief in her ability to grow.

The Result:

  • By the end of the year, not only does Maria perform significantly better at maths, but her attitude towards learning has completely changed. She’s open to pursuing opportunities and careers she may have previously avoided.

CASE STUDY #2: Work

Background:

  • Steve is a mid-level manager at a company that decides to implement a new project management software to improve efficiency. Steve has never considered himself “tech savvy” and his kids keep telling him he’s hopeless with technology.

Fixed Mindset:

  • Steve initially tries to resist the change. Feeling incredibly insecure about his ability to learn the new technology.
  • He complains to management about the change or makes excuses to avoid using the new software, scared that if he struggles with it, he’ll look inadequate in front of his peers(and further confirm the criticism of his children).

The Trigger:

  • After having a discussion with a business mentor who emphasised the important of embracing challenges and learning from them, Steve gets some much-needed perspective.

The Action Steps:

  • Training: Steve signs up for all the available training sessions on the new software, seeing them as a chance to improve his skills rather than highlight his weaknesses.
  • Asking questions: Instead of hiding his confusion, Steve asks plenty of questions during these training sessions and reaches out to colleagues who have adapted quickly for advice, seeing them as valuable resources rather than competitors.
  • Practice regularly: He commits to using the new software for small daily tasks to build his skills, rather than waiting to become an overnight-expert.
  • Seeking feedback: Steve asks for feedback from his team on his handling of the new software, using these insights to adjust his approach.
  • Reflection: As he becomes more comfortable, Steve starts to share his learning with the team. He encourages them to explore features and discuss ways they can further utilise the technology.

The Result:

  • Steves proactive approach not only benefits him. It also develops his leadership abilities as his mindset trickles down through his entire team. His department becomes one of the first to integrate and capitalise on the new softwares capabilities.
  • His openness and willingness to learn is recognised by upper management and it opens up opportunities for future career development.

CASE STUDY #3: Personal Life

Background:

  • Jane is in her mid-40s and has recently been told by her GP that she needs to make some significant lifestyle changes to reduce her risk of developing chronic disease. Jane has always struggled to maintain a healthy diet and was never one of the “sporty” kids, so she’s often found herself avoiding exercise out of fear of looking silly.

Fixed Mindset:

  • Jane feels defeated and blames her parents for passing “poor genetics” on to her.
  • She resists making any changes, believing that it’s too late for her to be able to improve.

The Trigger:

  • Jane was invited by her friend to attend a mindset seminar. She heard lots of other inspiring stories about other people who have successfully transformed their health. She leaves feeling it may also be possible for her.

The Action Steps:

  • Setting achievable goals: Jane focuses on setting small, actionable goals ie. walking for 10mins or adding one serve of vegetables every day. Rather than setting lofty, overwhelming and unrealistic targets she’ll likely fall short of (setting herself up for failure!).
  • Educating herself: She invests time in learning about nutrition and exercise. She signs up for free webinars, follows trustworthy people on social media or hires a personal coach.
  • Seeking support: Jane joins a local fitness group and healthy cooking class to surround herself with a supportive community.
  • Tracking progress: She keeps a health journal to write down her daily activities, what she eats, how she feels, allowing herself to see the progress she’s making over time.
  • Celebrating every win: Every small victory (like choosing a healthy meal versus take-away) is an opportunity to celebrate being one step closer to her goal.

The Result:

  • Janes incremental changes lead to significant improvements in general health, and reduction in risk markers over time.
  • Most importantly, she starts to realise the level of control she has over her health. She continues to make more positive lifestyle changes.
Images sourced through substack.

3 things you need to stop worrying about.

#1 Fear of failure:

  • A common barrier to developing a growth mindset. The ability to re-frame failure as a learning opportunity, rather than a setback, is crucial. Understand that making mistakes is a natural (and necessary) part of the growth process (Journal of Experimental Social Psychology).

#2 Perfectionism:

  • Have you ever heard the phrase “don’t let perfection stand in the way of progress”..? It’s true. Unrealistic standards ruin progress. The APA suggests to accept that perfection is unattainable and to focus on continuous improvement instead.

#3 Negative self-talk:

  • You know that story you tell yourself in your head about all the things you can’t have or do? It’s undermining your ability to succeed. To you want to know something that makes us all sound crazy? We would rather be right (and fail) than be wrong (and succeed).
  • As humans we’re so wired to see uncertainty as a threat, that we spend our lives self-sabotaging our efforts to change because it’s our sick way of controlling the outcome. How silly!

How to get started in the next 7 days

Day 1: Reflect on Your Mindset

Set aside time to reflect on your current mindset. Write down situations where you’ve had a fixed train of thought.

  • Moments you believe that’s “just how it is”
  • Things you’re avoiding out of fear of failure
  • Times you’re telling yourself it’s not worth trying
  • When you feel threatened by other’s success

Day 2: Set Growth-Oriented Goals

Take one of the situations you wrote down and create a simple goal that focuses on progress instead of perfection. Aim to learn a new skill, rather than be the best.

Day 3: Embrace Challenges

Pick one of the things you wrote down that you’ve been avoiding out of fear of failure or looking stupid. Step out of your comfort zone and tackle it. Write down how you felt after afterwards. Was it as scary as you thought? Action often alleviates anxiety. Take action.

Day 4: Seek Feedback

Ask somebody in your network of friends, family or coworkers for some feedback in an area you’re looking to improve in. Remember, you’re looking for honest and constructive feedback. Reach out to that person who always gives you honest feedback, I’ll admit it’s hard to find somebody in this niche. Most people either don’t want to offend us, or may be openly critical without any constructive elements. If you have somebody like this in your circle – hold onto them!

Openly received this feedback and plan how you might use it to your advantage, rather than get threatened or defensive.

Day 5: Celebrate Small Wins

Take some moments to reflect on the ways you’ve improved or shown growth across the past month. Not everything needs to be a significant shift, look for times you’ve shown progress. It’s time to reinforce to yourself that you’re capable of improving. If you’re capable of improving in these ways, who’s to say you can’t improve in other areas you’ve told yourself isn’t possible?

Day 6: Learn from Others

Identify somebody who embodies a growth mindset. This can be a mentor, coach, peer… whoever! Reach out to them and study their approach and achievements. Ask advice and gain their perspective. What would they do differently? Email me directly matt@longevityproject.au I’d love to help out.

Day 7: Reflect and Plan Ahead

Reflect on the past 7 days. I’m sure there were times where you were uncomfortable, but how do you feel now? Does life feel different when you attack it with a growth mindset? Continue to plan how you can integrate this into your everyday practice and get excited to be one of those “glass half full” people that always seem to have less stress, less anxiety and enjoy their lives so much more!

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