Anxiety is a normal, rather welcome, consequence of an unprecedented situation, such as the COVID-19 crisis. There are several soft skills you can develop, in order to deal with such an ‘unchartered territory’, but the biggest impact in the end will come from the way you have learned to see things; your mindset.
In oppose to fixed mindset, a growth mindset is a way of seeing life with a focus on potential and change as a positive possibility. In simple words, a “growth mindset,” is exactly what it describes: a tendency to believe that you can grow. Instead of worrying about the bad things in life, you focus your energy on how to improve them. The basic dipole of the definition of mindset regards the perception of success and failure.
The underlying and constant feeling of uncertainty during these times may trigger periods of low productivity at the workplace. Either in times of crisis or not, either in personal or in career life, those with a growth mindset will find it easier to reach positive outcomes through innovation and resilience. But if you want to change your habits, firstly you must change your thoughts.
Why should a company encourage a growth mindset?
Research has earlier highlighted benefits of growth mindset among the employees in an organization:
- Higher motivation and performance
- Higher aspiration
- More flexibility in taking risks
- Enhanced brain development
- Lower stress and anxiety
- Positive working relationships
How to develop a growth mindset
-View challenges as opportunities: This is the golden feature of a growth mindset. Embarking on a new challenge can be frightening, and the fear of failure can be too much to bear. On the other hand, by avoiding challenges, we do not have the opportunities to discover ourselves.
-Recognize and accept imperfections: Hiding from your weaknesses means you will never deal with them, which in turn means you will never overcome them. A growth mindset is vastly related to the capability of tracing the positive outcome in a negative situation.
-Reconsider the meaning of failure: It may sound kind of cliché, but it is important to have this in mind. Falling short of a goal is not always failure; sometimes it is a great lesson, vital for a next attempt.
–Make a new goal for every goal accomplished: Learning is a dynamic, constantly evolving procedure. Dream big, but start small. Tackle your scary thoughts, stick to a schedule and reward yourself for your efforts.
–Use the word “yet”: Take a look at the following: “I have not accomplished my goal” and “I have not accomplished my goal yet”. Which one sounds better?
-Cultivate grit: Grit in psychology refers to perseverance and passion for long-term goals, a feature vital for career success. “Grit is about having what some researchers call an “ultimate concern”–a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do,” explains psychologist Angela Duckworth. Neuroscience has shown that there is an enormous capacity to learn new skills as we get older, through sustained effort.
-See actions, not traits: Rewarding a smart person and rewarding a smart thing that a person has done are two different things. The way you perceive features and traits has a vast impact on your mentality and, subsequently, your personal development.
-Place effort before talent: It is proven that hard work is typically beyond talent. Talent is only one of the ingredients to success, but little progress every day adds up to big results.
–Get rid of the ‘survive mentality’: Is your goal just to survive or to keep thriving despite this period of immense change? Dweck (2008) has demonstrated that people with a growth mindset have a greater ability to thrive in even the most difficult situations.
Let us see three examples:
|Instead of thinking…||You can think…|
|“I’m at home, stuck with nothing to do.”||“I have a golden opportunity to spend lots of time with my family.”|
|“I don’t know what’s going to happen.”||“I can’t control the situation but I can control my actions.”|
|“I am going to catch this virus.”||“I will follow the suggested precautions and everything is going to be ok.”|
All these general rules can be translated into three steps, during these times of uncertainty:
- Allow space for negative thoughts: Nobody was born ready to deal with a situation they have never encountered before. Accept the uncertainty of the situation and your subsequent negative thoughts; they are normal.
- Rethink your negative thoughts and try to adapt them to become more positive.
- Emphasize on what you can change about your current situation: Focus on your potential and your strengths and the positive role that you can play during this crisis.
Five additional suggestions to business leaders:
- Be patient;
- Encourage a growth mindset to the team, but start from yourself;
- Send the right signals;
- Maintain structure;
- Don’t forget your company’s purpose.
Remember; maintaining a growth mindset means stability in an unstable world. Mindset is more powerful than we usually think, as it is influencing our thoughts and consequently, our habits, our everyday interactions, as well as our business success. A fixed mindset is damaging during a pandemic, as well as during “normal” times, as it prevents people from achieving what they truly want in life.