Pursue What Matters
Episode 11: Mindset
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Have you heard the term mindset? It isn’t necessarily a new concept, but it is a very profound topic. Today we are going to talk about how powerful your mindset is. And as a bonus, I’m offering a free mindset cheat sheet to help you implement a growth mindset in your daily life. This is a fun topic with important implications for you and anyone you lead, whether at home or at work. So let’s jump in.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:27
I am Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work? Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Well, today, I’ll help you answer that question. mindset, which in a nutshell, is your set of beliefs or attitudes about yourself, can as you, as you can imagine, have powerful consequences for not only how you see yourself, but how you approach the world, and your prospects for success. So mindset really matters. When you were young, were you praised for being smart? Or were you one of those kiddos placed in the lowest level of reading group? How did that make you feel? Did you feel stupid? Did you give up on learning many of us receive messages very early on in childhood that impacted our perceptions of ourselves, including our beliefs about our intelligence, and our ability to learn. And unfortunately, almost all of these messages were dead wrong. So that is kind of heartbreaking because there are a lot of us trying to overcome some pretty undermining mindsets. But the really great news is that thanks to the groundbreaking work of Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, who she started out at Columbia, so some of her research is out of Columbia. Although now she’s at Stanford, we now have an entirely new understanding of learning growth, and this concept of mindset. So today, we’ll start by first learning what mindset is, including the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. And second, we’ll talk about why mindset really matters. And it really, really does. And then third, how mindset can be problematic. And then fourth, we will talk about solutions to help you shift to a growth mindset. So we’ll talk about solutions, not only for yourself, but for those you lead both at home, and at work. And as I mentioned at the top of the podcast, I have a really great cheat sheet for you today, that is all focused on helping you better understand your own mindset, helping you understand the difference between a growth mindset, and a fixed mindset, how this might show up for you. And then really focusing on how to shift your mindset. And so this is a cheat sheet that you can download from my website. And so I’ll give you all the details at the end of the show for how you can download that great freebie. So I hope that you will download it, check it out that it can be a resource to you. So first of all, let’s start with what mindset is. So as I mentioned, An Introduction mindset includes your attitudes and beliefs about yourself. So mindsets big, right, it can encompass a lot. So what Dweck found in her research is that there is a very simple belief that we hold about ourselves that can have a big impact on our potential for success, our willingness to try new things, and even the development of our personality. So pretty, pretty interesting. So what is this simple belief that can have such a profound impact on your potential for success? It is your belief about whether intelligence, talent, and even your personality are fixed traits. So meaning, traits that are set in stone at birth, so to speak, or whether those are more fluid traits that you can develop throughout life’s experiences.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:41
So your belief about whether these characteristics are fixed, can make all the difference in your level of success. So now, this is really, really important to note. I’m not saying that your intelligence makes all the difference in your level of success, but that your Belief in whether your intelligence is fixed, or fluid makes all the difference. And that’s a really critical difference that Dweck found in her research. And that now has been replicated in many different settings with many different populations. So if this difference isn’t totally clear yet, hold on. I’ll explain more. We’re going to talk a lot about this today. So as part of her research, Dweck identified two mindsets to help explain the different beliefs people adopt about themselves, and then how this impacts their success in life. So first, let’s start with a fixed mindset. As you might imagine, if you have a fixed mindset, you believe your intelligence and talent are fixed traits, meaning they’re set and movable. So what you’re born with in terms of intelligence, or talent, is what you get. You come with a package of intelligence and talent. And that’s what you’ve got in your life. So if you have a fixed mindset, you will likely focus on documenting how smart or talented you are. So for example, collecting ribbons, a great honor, roll certificates, that sort of thing, rather than developing skills and talents, because if you have a fixed mindset, you don’t necessarily believe that you can develop skills and talents because you believe that those traits are fixed, that you have what you came with. So if you have a fixed mindset, you tend to believe that talent alone creates success. And that effort is not involved. So talent, trumps effort when it comes to success. So you would be wrong in this belief, but you still believe this. So that’s one of the features of a fixed mindset.
Dr. Melissa Smith 6:54
When it comes to a fixed mindset, failure is seen as evidence of stupidity, or lack of talent. So failure is really seen as a dark mark on the soul, and is to be avoided at all costs. So failure really is and can be very shameful if you have a fixed mindset. So as a result, you do not try new things. And therefore you don’t develop new skills. Because right, you don’t believe you can develop new skills, you don’t open yourself up to new opportunities. And so you are limited in your growth and development. So of course, this seriously hamper success, and it is very unlikely that you will fulfill your potential. So when we think about a fixed mindset, perfectionist, our classic fixed mindset eaters, they will rarely risk failure because to do so with risk being seen as imperfect, which could crush their fragile sense of self. Because one of the one of the tricks of the perfectionist is this belief that if I’m perfect, then I’m worthy of love. Or if I’m perfect, then I’m acceptable. And so any failure or anything short of perfection, is an indication or evidence that they’re unworthy or that they’re unlovable. And so risking failure is not worth it. So consistent with a fixed mindset is also a scarcity perspective, this idea that you are never enough. So there is never enough time. There’s never enough talent, never enough smarts, that sort of thing. These individuals tend to compare and compete with others. And if another person succeeds, it somehow means that you have failed. So we kind of see that we’re always in competition with other people. And so someone’s success is somehow an indictment against us. And if you think about it, it’s just a really miserable way to live. Okay, so now let’s talk about the growth mindset. So in contrast, if you have a growth mindset, you recognize that intelligence and talent are skills that you can develop throughout your lifetime.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:24
So these are not fixed traits, but they’re more fluid traits that you can develop over time. So you see challenges and learning environments as opportunities to grow and strengthen your skills and abilities. So those with a growth mindset recognize that characteristics such as hard work, dedication, grit, perseverance and optimism are much more important for determining success than his native intelligence and that intelligence and talent are really just the starting point. can be developed through these other characteristics. So, you know, intelligence and talent are great, but they really are just the starting point. And from there, success is really much more about hard work dedication, grit, perseverance and optimism. So because you understand this, you have a love of learning, and a resilient spirit. So virtually all the greats throughout history have a growth mindset. So I think that’s pretty cool. So if you kind of take a look through history, to pay attention to those greats, who we would recognize as highly successful, and most of them have a growth mindset. So let’s think about how failure is perceived for those with a growth mindset. So failure, though uncomfortable, right? Because failure always hurts. It’s never comfortable. That failure, though uncomfortable is not fatal. And it is understood to be part of the process of learning, growing, and developing skills, smarts, and talents.
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:11
So you recognize that failure is part of the path. Failure is part of how we learn and grow and develop by leaning into challenges, you’re able to fully develop talents and reach your potential, and are thus much more successful than those with a fixed mindset. So by opening yourself up to opportunities for growth, you actually grow. So if you don’t open yourself up for opportunities to grow, you definitely will not grow. And so those with a growth mindset tend to be much more successful than those with a fixed mindset. Those with a growth mindset might fail more often, but they fail forward. Because with each failure, they’re learning, and they’re growing, and they’re developing. a growth mindset is consistent with an abundance perspective, or the idea that you are enough, you have what you need, you can certainly develop what you need, and the world will help you. Others will help you. And you can learn what you need to be successful. So a growth mindset really carries an optimistic and hopeful view, not only of yourself, but also of the world. And it absolutely draws others to you. So you find that others want to help you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:46
Okay, so now we know what mindset is. And we know the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Let’s move on to the second point, the second and the third point, which is why does mindset matter? And how can it be problematic. So this is where the rubber hits the road. So mindset really matters, first of all, because it can have a huge impact on many areas of functioning. So just think about that our beliefs about ourselves, can really impact everything, so many areas of functioning. So specifically, we want to talk about how a fixed mindset can be problematic. So first of all, the degree of success you achieve, this is a big one, those with a fixed mindset achieve less than those with a growth mindset, which might seem counterintuitive, because on the surface, those with a growth mindset probably fell more often, right? So I already mentioned this, but they tend to fail forward, they fell in the process of learning and growth. And so failure does not become fatal. That failure becomes a step in learning and growth and development. And I think that there is a really great quote that speaks to this process.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:09
This is a quote by Theodore Roosevelt. It’s known as the speech of the man in the arena. He didn’t title it this, but it’s been popularized under that name. And of course, Brene Brown has made this very popular, her book daring greatly. The title of her book Daring Greatly is taken from this speech. So Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who airs who comes sharp, who comes up short again and again. Because there is no effort without error, and shortcoming. But who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls, who neither know victory, nor defeat.”
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:34
So I really love that, quote, because it really speaks to those with the growth mindset, who are willing to take on challenges who are willing to risk failure, because to grow, is to fail to grow, is to take risk. And this idea that with a fixed mindset, often individuals aren’t even willing to step into the arena, they’re not willing to take any risks. And so, certainly Roosevelt is paying respect to those who are willing to take risks and willing to show up courageously. And certainly, that’s what Brene Brown speaks to, as she pays tribute to these words, and this quote, and that is definitely what it means to have a growth mindset. So in contrast, when those with a fixed mindset take a risk and fell, it becomes a crushing blow. And efforts are typically made to prevent any exposure to risk or failure in the future. So as a result, life really becomes very circumscribed and very cautious. So there may not be many stumbles, but that’s because there aren’t very many great steps. So they’re just not taking very many challenges on in their lives. So the problem with this, so the issue is the degree of success you achieve. And of course, the problem is that with a fixed mindset, you’re scared to fail, and therefore miss opportunities to learn and develop your potential. So the sociologist Benjamin Barber said, I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures, I divide the world into the learners and the non learners. And so he really is speaking to this fundamental approach to life, which is also this difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. So do you believe in your capacity to learn and to grow? Or do you believe that you do not have a capacity to learn and if you do not believe you have a capacity to learn and develop your skills, you just won’t put yourself out there. And as a result, you won’t learn and so in a very real way, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:16
Okay, so let’s talk about the second issue in terms of why mindset matters and how it can be a problem. So you run the risk of being a raging perfectionist, and I am a recovering perfectionist, I can definitely speak truth to this. If you cling to a fixed mindset, you must be perfect, pretty much all the time, it is the only way to hold together a fragile sense of self. And of course, the problem here is that perfectionism is a brutal way to live, both for you and anyone you’re in a relationship with, because here’s the thing, you’re never good enough. And when you’re a perfectionist, you run the risk of being as hard on other people as you are on yourself. And that’s really the very cruel reality of perfectionism. So that there’s the bitter truth. So if you must be perfect, but you can’t be where do you go from there, perfectionism ultimately leads to hopelessness. And the root of perfectionism, ultimately, is shame. So from Dweck’s website, “in the fixed mindset, it’s not enough just to succeed. It’s not enough just to look smart and talented. You have to be pretty much flawless. And you have to be flawless right away. After all, if you have it, you have it. And if you don’t, you don’t.” So there’s really no room for Learning, this desire to think of yourself as perfect is often called CEO disease. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that I, you know, I’m familiar with her research. So I’ve, of course heard it before the end mindset. I explore several CEOs who had bad, even fatal cases of this disease. So that’s Dweck speaking on her website. So this idea of CEO disease, and it’s the idea of, they could not be seen as having flaws, they had to be perfect all the time. And, as a leader, think about how toxic that can be. And so she does have some really fascinating case studies in her book, which I will reference to in the show notes. So it’s really very interesting.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:49
So now let’s talk about the third reason why mindset matters. And that is the happiness that you experience in life. I don’t know about you, but fearing failure and protecting against risk at every turn in your life does not make for a happy life. That’s a pretty miserable existence. So a fixed mindset really leads to anxiety, distress on happiness and pessimism. In contrast, a growth mindset leads to optimism, hope, resilience, happiness, and a belief in yourself. And by the way, a belief in others. So it is absolutely the other side of the coin to the pessimism of a fixed mindset. So of course, the problem is that with a fixed mindset, happiness eludes you, as you hustle for a sense of worth.
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:45
Okay, so now let’s talk about the fourth reason that mindset matters. So you have a misunderstanding of yourself and your potential for success, which obviously can have a huge impact on your life. And of course, this would be so sad. So think about this, how sad would it be to get to the end of your life, and realize that you had everything you needed to be wildly successful, smart, and to achieve your highest potential, but that you didn’t know that. Because, you know, for instance, when you were putting the lowest reading group in the first grade, you thought you were done for, I mean, that would be so sad. You thought you were stupid, and that there wasn’t really anything you could do to help yourself. That would, that would actually be heartbreaking. So from a fixed mindset, success is about proving you’re smart. Whereas from a growth mindset, success is about learning. So the problem, of course, is that with a fixed mindset, you don’t realize your potential. And the problem with this is, of course, your life is worse for it. But the world misses out on the gifts that you have to offer it. And so it’s a loss for everyone. Okay, so now I want to talk about the fifth reason that mindset matters. mindset matters, because we know that i Q and talent don’t bring success.
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:31
So I want to repeat that again, because some of you maybe did not get the memo. mindset matters, because we know the research is really clear on this, that i Q and talent don’t bring success. And I think many of us have a fundamental misunderstanding about this. So the truth about success is that it takes a lot of freaking hard work. And it’s marked by a lot of challenge, doubt, failure, and of course, encouragement by others. You’ll hear more about this in a minute. So the problem is that with a fixed mindset, you don’t have a realistic perspective about what it takes to succeed. So you may you may believe that intelligence is enough. And then when it’s not, that you’re just lost, that you’re out of luck, but that the research is actually very clear on this that IQ and talent are not the best markers of success. And this is where I would like to share one of my all time favorite quotes by Calvin Coolidge. I just love this.
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:38
So he said, “nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not, unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
Dr. Melissa Smith 25:07
I absolutely love that quote. And I think it is so true. And it really speaks to what Dweck found in her research about growth mindset. Okay, now let’s talk about the sixth reason that mindset matters. mindset matters. Because when you understand mindset, you can learn how to help yourself and those you care about. So that’s good, we we’d like to do that. So this is the thing, there is a lot you can do to help yourself and others. And this is also true, there are a lot of things that many of us do that we think are helpful, that are not helpful at all. So you know, one of one of my themes with this podcast, and certainly, probably the biggest theme with this podcast. And certainly, the theme for my life that I try to make it is that we really do want to personally pursue what matters. So we want to understand what’s effective, we want to understand who we are, we want to understand our values. And then we want to get after those things that will really help us to move forward on our values and to pursue what matters. So of course, the problem here is that we all say and do things that reinforce a fixed mindset. And it’s just, it’s not helpful. So probably the best example of this is that too many of us and we all do it. It’s it’s kind of a plague, but especially parents, we praise smarts and talent, which doesn’t foster self esteem, and accomplishment, it actually jeopardizes them. So don’t worry, I’ll have some solutions for you. But you know, when when you praise intelligence, or you praise talent, we think it’s good. I mean, we wouldn’t praise if we didn’t think it was helpful. But it actually tends to undermine self esteem and accomplishment. And it also reinforces a fixed mindset. And that is the last thing that we want to do. And so once we get to the solutions, I’m going to have some tips for you. So again, the problem is that we all say and do things that reinforce a fixed mindset, which of course is not helpful.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:27
Okay, number seven. So the the seventh reason that mindset matters, mindset matters. Because once you understand mindset, you can start to see big changes in grades, accomplishments and productivity. It really is pretty magical, if you’re willing to do the work. So I think I think this is so exciting. So from a fixed mindset, effort is a dirty word. So think about it. If you’re smart, then you shouldn’t have to put forth effort to learn or develop skills. So effort really is shunned. And as a result, if you have a fixed mindset, you fail to develop your potential. But research reveals along with common sense, I would say that effort is the engine of success and potential. So from a growth mindset, effort is really the key to development. So I always think of this the truth that there are no free lunches. If you’re not willing to put in the work, don’t expect the lunch, don’t expect the rewards. So you can start focusing on the things that matter. And we’ll make a difference so that we can pursue what matters. That’s, of course, what we want to be doing. So of course, the problem here is that you are pursuing what matters, you’re focusing on things that won’t help you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:52
Okay, and the eighth reason that mindset matters, mindset matters. And it’s important for you to understand, so that you can be great too. So you shouldn’t leave all of the success and all of the accomplishment to someone else. You have potential. You have a purpose. You have passions, and so you should get after it. And you should be pursuing what you’re passionate about. All the greats already understand this. So either they understand it natively, or they’ve had someone teach it to them. So I’m not necessarily talking about having someone teach them the research of Carol Dweck, although, you know, that certainly could have happened. But they’ve had people in their lives who have encouraged grit, perseverance and pushing limits. And the truth is, we all need people like this in our lives. The cool thing is that as you learn about mindset, you can become one of these mentors, not only in your own life, but in The lives of those you care about. So how cool is that? Of course, the problem is that you aren’t living to your potential. If you don’t understand mindset, and that one hurts, we definitely want you living to your potential.
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:15
Okay, so now we’ve talked about what mindset is, we’ve talked about the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. And then we’ve also talked about why mindset matters and how it can be problematic some of the ways that that shows up. And now I hope you’re ready for some solutions. So we really want to focus on how you can shift to a growth mindset, not only for yourself, but for those you lead at home and at work. And I just want to remind you here, that I have a great freebie for you. So I have a mindset cheat sheet that goes along with this podcast. And so I’ll give you all the details at the end of the show of how you can find that. But you can download that from my website. And it is a great PDF downloadable, that has the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset how these show up, and then really focusing on how to change your mindset. So as I’ve talked about, mindset has really big implications for so many ways that we function in our lives. And so we really want to, we really want to pay attention to this. So if you could focus on just a few concepts during a quarter or during a year, this should be at the top of your list, because mindset hat can make such a big difference and has such far reaching impacts. And so I’m hoping that this cheat sheet can be something that can be really helpful for you. So maybe you review it every day, or get to the point where you review at once a week. So you can just remind yourself of the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. And you can kind of do a little check in with yourself in terms of Okay, am I am I am I working on a growth mindset, like where am I at, in my own thinking and my own beliefs about myself. So I’m really hoping that that freebie can be helpful for you. And so make sure you listen at the end of the podcast, and I’ll give you all the great details about how to download that cheat sheet.
Dr. Melissa Smith 32:34
Okay, now let’s talk about the solutions on how to shift to a growth mindset. So solution number one, be a learner. Recognize that your willingness to learn is your best determinant of your potential, embrace growth, accept challenges, and be determined to develop skills, talents and abilities, you will be amazed at the places you’ll go. So right. Dr. Seuss. got it right. Oh, the places you’ll go. So recently, I just did a great podcast, I think it was great all about learning. And I talked about why learning is hard, and why that’s a good thing. And so if you want go back and listen to that podcast, if you haven’t listened to it, but it talks about how to how to be a learner and how to be an effective learner. But the first solution is to be a learner embrace growth, solution to take risks, be willing to take risks based on sound decision making, right? So we don’t want to make stupid risks, but life is risky. You can’t have certainty about everything. So take time to make a reasoned decision. But remember that you can’t know all the factors. And some decisions require you to move forward with uncertainty. So in these moments, you need to rely on the trust that you are developing with yourself, your process for making decisions, and if appropriate, the counsel of wise mentors. So you can’t strategize the risk out of decisions, or life for that matter. I definitely have run into people who have tried to do that. Right. They try and come up with some sort of algorithm where they can just work the risk right out of decisions. And the truth is, that’s really hard to do. You must find a way to move forward, mostly confidently, making the best decisions you can, knowing that you can pick yourself up when you fall, because the truth is you will if you’re taking risks, if you’re moving forward, you will fall and recognizing that falling and failure doesn’t have to be fatal. So from Cat Cora, very famous and successful chef, she said take chances Mistakes are never a failure, they can be turned into wisdom. And really what makes the difference if failure turns into wisdom is are we willing to learn? Are we able to understand what was helpful from that mistake, or perhaps our blind spot or where we needed to seek feedback or where we needed more support, and so, being willing to learn.
Dr. Melissa Smith 35:29
Okay, let’s talk about solution three, fail forward, recognize that failure need not be fatal, and can actually be essential to learning growth and development. So don’t quit if you felt this is really important. But I think that the tendency for most of us is when we felt like we want to go home and lick our wounds, like we The last thing we want to do is get out there and try again. But if you stick with it, you will learn the lessons from the failure. And of course, if you quit, you won’t necessarily learn the lessons and you certainly close yourself off from further opportunities for growth. So from Michael Hyatt, he said, You can’t fail if you don’t quit. So learn to fail forward by learning all you can from the failures. So we really want you to banish the shame that comes with failure by talking about your failures, this can be a really powerful vehicle for growth. Because first you find out that you’re not alone, which can be incredibly healing, then the first time you talk about failure, you find out the other people have felt as well, that you’re not alone. And the thing about the shame is that it thrives in secrecy. And so you fail at something, and you keep it a secret, or you don’t talk about it. And so what happens is you end up marinating in shame, and you think you’re the only one that this has happened to and that you’re defective, and life is rotten, and you’re all alone.
Dr. Melissa Smith 37:14
But by first talking to someone, you find out that you’re not alone. And that even if they haven’t experienced the same thing, they can empathize. And that can be incredibly healing. And then second, by talking to someone, you get valuable emotional support, and you get help dusting yourself off. And when we failed, and when we’ve struggled, that can be so important, because we’re hurting. And we’ve had our face on the floor of the arena. And so we need some help from some friends. And then of course, this, the third reason is you might just get some really useful feedback to help you learn from the failure. And of course, that’s really essential. And such an important part of being able to talk about your failure. They even have failure conferences now, which I think is actually kind of cool. So they have that for entrepreneurs and business leaders, where it becomes a safe place to talk about failure. And it really is about supporting innovation and growth, which I will be talking about a little bit more in upcoming podcasts and the reality that failure is part of innovation. And it’s not something that you try and work out of the process. But you recognize that it’s actually critical to the process of innovation.
Dr. Melissa Smith 38:44
Okay, so a quote from Jeff Goins. “It’s not fun to fail, but it just might be the only way to succeed.” So I think that’s a really valuable perspective solution for relinquish perfectionism. So do you notice the theme with the podcast so far? I’ve talked about how perfectionism gets in the way of connection, how it gets in the way of being open to feedback, and now how it actually blocks us from greater success. I am telling you, perfectionism is an albatross around your neck. And the sooner you can rid yourself of it, the better. There is nothing good that comes from perfectionism. I can promise you this. So one thing to get straight, you aren’t perfect. No one is and you weren’t meant to be perfect. We are all in a state of perpetual growth and development. So you know, that perspective really helps me when I find I’m being too hard on myself and some of my self talk and those in those moments. Sounds like this. I’m not meant to have it all figured out. And for me, there’s some compassion and also it’s a relief. And then I can get on with the business of figuring out what I need to do in that moment and forget about the pressure that I may be putting on myself. And it really becomes a burden lifted. So we really do want to relinquish perfectionism. So in her book Dweck uses Enron, everyone remember Enron, as an example of a fixed mindset at the corporate level, of course, going horrible, horribly awry. It’s a fascinating case study. So there’s also a book about Enron. It’s called the smartest guys in the room, which is also very fascinating, that alludes to this problem in which their belief in their own superior intelligence led to arrogance, a belief in their infallibility, and of course, very unethical behavior. So Enron certainly was not alone, at the time in adopting a talent mindset. So that was really something that was happening in corporate America for a lot of organizations, in which company sought out talent. Above all else, it was like talent was what it was all about. And so they were looking for recruits from the top schools, the ivy League’s. And that was, I mean, it’s really insidious. But ultimately, they were forcing a fixed mindset on their organizations where it was not okay to admit that you didn’t have everything figured out.
Dr. Melissa Smith 41:39
So this was obviously so toxic to a company because people don’t admit mistakes or deficits, problems don’t get addressed. And of course, the culture of roads before everyone’s eyes, because what becomes most important, is being perceived as being perfect, being perceived as having all of the answers, rather than actually figuring things out and getting to the best solutions. And so this was certainly the culture at Enron. And of course, it it led to disastrous results. But this was also a mindset that this talent mindset was happening in much of corporate America at the time. And I think it’s really fascinating to think about how this, this really big push for talent, as the highest priority in recruiting really forced a fixed mindset, talk about undermining and talk about getting what you don’t want in terms of culture.
Dr. Melissa Smith 42:53
So solution, five, change your perspective. So we want you to see challenges as exciting opportunities that stretch your brain, rather than as opportunities to fail or to be shamed. So I want to share with you just a quick example of some of the research that Dweck and her colleagues did to help make this point. And so she you know, she’s done research with all sorts of people, all ages, all different kinds of settings. But some of her research are much of her research is with kids in the school setting. And she had these kids doing some challenging puzzles. And so the kids with the fixed mindsets, when they were given the choice to do a second puzzle, so they had all all of the kids did a first puzzle. And so when the kids with the fixed mindset, were given the choice to do a second puzzle, they chose an easier puzzle. Whereas 90% of the growth mindset, kids chose a harder puzzle for their second puzzle. So I think that’s really very interesting. So the fixed mindset kids, they were just like, no, like, I, I don’t, I don’t want to push myself. I don’t want to do anything that’s hard. Whereas the growth mindset kids were invigorated by the challenge, and they saw it. From an optimistic perspective. They thought it was really interesting. And one of the growth mindset kiddos explained, can I do another puzzle, I love the way it’s stretching my brain. And so think about that kind of perspective about learning, that sort of excitement and optimism about learning. I mean, we would wish that kind of perspective for all of our kids when it comes to learning. So he was really excited and saw the activity as play. Whereas the fixed mindset kids saw it as drudgery and something to be avoided. So we really want to help you change your perspective when it comes to learning and growth. Taking on challenges. So be careful about how you’re approaching things. And you know the message that that sends to those you lead whether at home or at work.
Dr. Melissa Smith 45:10
So solution six, develop grit. So as discuss persistence over time is key to success. So hard work, consistency structure, delayed gratification, following through all of these hold much more potential for seeing you through to success, then does native talent or IQ. And so of course, grit is based on the excellent research from Angela Duckworth. So maybe I’ll do a book review of the book grit. But basically, it’s the idea that hard work consistent effort following through those sorts of things really hold the most potential for helping you to be successful then does native talent or IQ. And so I remember when, as I was beginning, my MBA program was like, Oh, I don’t know about like, all these counting classes and econ and that sort of thing. I mean, I knew I could, I could do well in the quantitative classes, because I had had probably like six or seven stats classes by that point. And I’d always done quite well and actually really enjoyed those courses. But I was still feeling a little intimidated by some of those, some of those courses in the MBA program, but I remember telling myself, you know, what, I might not have all of the background in some of the quant skills that some of my classmates will have. But no one will outwork me,like, I actually, I know that no one will outwork me. And so I had a lot of belief, and a lot of trust in my grit, and in my willingness to work hard and put in the time and to be consistent. And certainly, that came from having success in school and of knowing how to approach school and how to be successful with learning and, and really, it is all about grit, and just being able to be consistent. And so that was something that actually provided me a lot of comfort throughout the program, especially when I came up against a new topic that felt really challenging. I was like, Okay, let’s just move into a lower gear, and let’s just start hammering away and without fail, as I did that, and really settled in to the consistent effort, I was able to learn the material and got a lot of help and had a lot of great colleagues who supported me and whom I supported, but through that process was able to be successful in that program.
Dr. Melissa Smith 47:53
Okay, solution seven. So I said, I would give you a solution. And here we are, we want to praise effort, not brains. So effort is what makes the difference. Hopefully, you’ve gotten that message so far. So we want you to focus on this key factor, not brains, you know, so not intelligence, not talent. When you praise intelligence and talent, you actually reinforce a fixed mindset. And it really undermines the person receiving the feedback leading and this, the research is really clear about this, that leads to less achievement, and ultimately, less success, which is definitely not what you want. So let me give you some examples. Instead of saying, You must be smart at this, say, you must have worked really hard. So we really want you to praise effort, rather than talent, rather than intelligence. So let’s just talk a little bit about some of the research by Dweck, where she did a study with 400 5th graders, where they all took three tests. So the second test purposely was made difficult enough that every single child felt that was probably really miserable for them. So what the researchers found was that kids who had been praised for their effort recovered from that failure by the third test, so much so that they were able to achieve scores 30% higher than on their first test. Okay, so they took, they took test one, and then they took test to test two was so hard that every single kiddo by design failed that test. Then they took test three, the kids that were praised for effort, scored 30% higher on their test three than they did on test one. Okay, so you follow in so far while so that was group Group A. Meanwhile, the students who were praised for their intelligence had scores that were 20%. Lower. Oh my gosh, that is, that’s a really stark contrast. So the kids who were praised for intelligence, right, so they had test one, test two they felt then, and they were praised for intelligence, and then test three, they scored 20%, lower than they did on test one. Whereas the kids that were praised for their effort scored 30% higher than they did on their test one, that’s a huge difference.
Dr. Melissa Smith 50:44
So this was Dr. Dwecks conclusion, you should praise children for qualities they can control, like effort. Those praised for their innate brain power might develop the sense that hard work isn’t necessary. So and that’s really the very undermining factor of praising intelligence is they can develop this belief of, I’m smart, so I don’t really need to study I don’t really need to put in effort. And then they when they come up against a challenge, they struggle, and then their sense of self is crushed. And they don’t know how to put in the effort. And they they don’t, they don’t believe that it’s even worth it because they don’t think the effort matters.
Dr. Melissa Smith 51:31
Okay, so I’ve got one last solution for you. I hope you’re still with me. Solution Eight, be a humble leader, be willing to ask questions, work hard and face difficult realities. So this is where we really want to speak to the CEO disease, and really relinquishing perfectionism. So listen to those you lead and credit those you lead. And of course, nurture those you lead. So we really want you to challenge the fixed mindset where ever you see it. And if you haven’t been aware of mindset before today, what I think you’ll find is, you’ll start to see these differences in mindset, everywhere you go. And I hope you will, because it becomes really telling and really helpful as you start to distinguish between these two mindsets. The most effective leaders have a growth mindset. So of course, this is addressed so well in UX research, but also, in Jim Collins work, From Good to Great, especially in his discussion of the Stockdale paradox, which I love the Stockdale paradox, I think it’s so fascinating, I’ll probably have to dedicate a full podcast to that topic, because it’s such an important topic. But for now, the key to keep in mind is that the most effective leaders are not are not those that are larger than life full of ego leaders who can do no wrong, read that that’s usually the fixed mindset. But humble leaders who are confident while being realistic about challenges and willing to learn, seek feedback and put in the effort consistently. These leaders are not only highly effective, but they earn the respect of those they lead. And that’s really what we want. Those are the kind of leaders we want. And those are the kind of leaders we want to be. And so of course, with this last solution, we want to be a humble leader, we want to be willing to ask questions, work hard, and face difficult realities, and really lead by example, of course. And Jim Collins talks about duacs research in his work, but I got to tell you, as I move through leadership books, almost every single one References duacs work on mindset. It’s really that important. It’s it’s groundbreaking work. And so, like I said earlier, if you’re going to focus on one concept, one or two concepts to focus on in a quarter or in a year, let it be mindset because this has so many important implications, not only in the work setting, but also personally. It really is that important.
Dr. Melissa Smith 54:27
Okay, so as you can see, your mindset can have a huge impact on your well being your success and your potential for growth and learning. It really is that important. Of course duacs research has been so groundbreaking. And like I mentioned, I think you’ll notice mindset everywhere you go, the more you can catch yourself and others in fixed mindsets and challenge that the better. There’s really no good that comes from a fixed mindset. So make sure you head on over to my website to check out the show notes with all the great resources for this episode and to download your own mindset cheat sheet freebie. So I’ve given you a great resource to help you focus on mindset and to really reinforce your understanding of mindset. So I really hope that you’ll head on over to my website, and download this PDF, so that you can have this easy and helpful Reference Guide to you so that it can help you really remember these concepts.
Dr. Melissa Smith 55:37
So you can download this at my website www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-11. That’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-11. And also over at my website, that’s the same place with my show notes, I will have some links to some excellent resources. In addition to the freebie Of course, I will have a link to duacs book which is titled mindset. It’s a quick read, it’s got lots of case studies, she works really hard to make it very applicable is a pretty quick read. I also will have a link to her website about mindset. She also has a really great TED talk about mindset. So I’ll have a link to that. And there are also some mindset assessments so you can do one of those assessments from her website and test your mindset and kind of see where you’re at. So that might be kind of fun to see where you’re at and see kind of what work you might want to do. So I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work in love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai