Changing my Mind(set)

I just finished reading the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck. I have been thinking and talking about the book to various people and when I switched on Canada AM this morning they were talking about the importance of a growth mindset for students. As so often happens when an idea excites me, suddenly examples are everywhere.

In a nutshell the book contrasts fixed and growth mindsets. People with a fixed mindset believe intelligence and talent are fixed and they can achieve success without effort. People with the growth mindset believe abilities can be developed and therefore they have a great love of learning and challenges and don’t fear failure.

What struck me was that over the past 15 months I have not only been working towards being a certified coach, I have been strengthening my growth mindset. As a kid I was not much of a joiner and often avoided structured activities like swimming, dance class, Brownies, etc. I didn’t believe I was good at sports or art or math so I avoided those things when I could. Instead I focused on activities and classes in school that came naturally to me. As I grew older and more confident I started to take more risks and realized that doing something well just means finding something you enjoy and working at it.

When I took my first coaching workshop I thought this is something I am good at and therefore I happily made the decision to continue. Luckily for me I did my training with the Coaches Training Institute and they fully embody the growth mindset. We learn in the context of the Beginner’s Mind, effort not success is praised, and failure is celebrated. I would be lying if I told you this was easy for me. After spending a decade as a consultant who is supposed to know something, it was not easy to suddenly switch into the mindset of enjoying failure. So sometimes I didn’t raise my hand or run to the front of the room to try something new. But many times I did and that is the key.

After 5 months of workshops it was time to move onto a 6-month certification program. During this program we had direct supervision and feedback about our coaching. A few months into the program I remember a sense of panic started that I was actually getting worse and not better at this coaching thing. Luckily my own coach helped me to see that I was playing a bigger game, trying new things, developing my basic skills at a whole new level. Of course there would be times that I would fail. During this time I came to realize that I had a gremlin in my head that would tell me “if you are meant to do this, then it will be easy.” A classic fixed mindset idea I can now see. Thankfully I was able to turn that around and say “if you are passionate about this then you will keep growing with effort and commitment.”

And that change of mindset was the biggest gift of all.

To test your Mindset, learn about its impact, and see how to change it visit:

Would love to hear what you discover…

© 2011, Janice Cunning. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this posting if you include my contact information. Please contact me if you wish to reprint any portion of it in any periodical or on a website

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About Janice Cunning

As a certified coach and fundraiser, I am passionate about partnering with people and teams to increase their personal and professional Joy Quota.

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