Every year our team at Planet Expat meets thousands of companies, especially startups, and one of the key things they’re looking for among their employees, partners or even clients is… a growth mindset. And, successfully demonstrating this attitude will push you towards professional development.
Firstly, what exactly is a “growth mindset”?
Carol Dweck first coined the term in her unique and insightful book ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’, notably one of our favorite reads of 2017.
A growth mindset is the belief that we can constantly develop and nurture our skills, helping us reach our full potential. According to Dweck, if we believe that we can achieve more, we’ll be more willing to put in the effort to get there.
Discover her in-depth explanation of a growth mindset:
Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset
Dweck makes a stark contrast between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. The latter refers to those who believe our intelligence and skills are innate and cannot be changed. They tend to focus on looking smart and are reluctant to take risks in case they appear somewhat incapable. On the other hand, a growth mindset prioritizes learning and refers to individuals who aren’t threatened by the thought of challenge or even failure – they know it will ultimately push them to achieve more. As a result, growth-minded individuals will develop every single day, whilst those with a fixed mindset will always remain on the same level.
Through scientific research carried out at a school, Dweck successfully proved the benefits of a growth mindset over a fixed mindset. The results showed that the children who received praised for their intelligence were more likely to have a fixed mindset and consequently achieve less than those who were praised for their effort.
The main differences between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset are shown here:
Growth Mindset and Professional Development
But how will demonstrating a growth mindset contribute to your professional development?
First of all, professional development involves the acquisition and development of skills in the workplace which help both employees and employers improve their overall performance.
A growth mindset will lead to your professional development because:
1. You’ll develop a positive mindset – you’ll learn how to maintain a cheerful and friendly nature even when you encounter difficulties at work. Your openness will reflect in your interactions with colleagues and clients, who will certainly enjoy doing business with you.
2. You’ll embrace change – rather than being fixed on one way of doing things, you’ll become a more flexible professional who enjoys adapting to new ideas, work environments and technologies. Basically, you’ll learn how to successfully manage this rapidly changing work environment.
3. You’ll be inspired by the actions of others – you’ll learn from the success of others rather than feel threatened or resentful. You’ll increasingly appreciate the opinions of your team members and share your own with them, helping you all to grow together.
4. You’ll always be satisfied – you’ll start to value all the efforts you make, even when you fail, and view everything as part of the learning process. You’ll be content knowing that you’re constantly striving to improve and aiming for excellence, so that tomorrow you’ll always be better than you are today. And your efforts certainly won’t go unnoticed by your boss…!
So if we currently have a fixed mindset, does that mean our professional development is limited?
No. Carol Dweck stresses that we can CHANGE our mindset from fixed to growth. It just takes a bit of hard work and determination.
Professional Development Plan
To further develop your career, you should consider creating a professional development plan, whereby you set goals and establish strategies to enhance your potential as a professional.
Here are a few tips to help you build your own professional development plan:
- Identify key skills to acquire – ask your manager which skills you could develop or knowledge you could deepen in order to enhance your performance at work.
- Review job boards – whether or not you want to change jobs, go onto a few job boards and take note of the skills that other companies desire for a role similar to yours. Evaluate your skills and see if they compare. No doubt you’ll find inspiration to help you grow and improve.
- Attend workshops and seminars – make the most of any training sessions your company offers, particularly those which focus on technology. Let’s be honest, being tech-savvy in today’s world will certainly come in handy, and place you a cut above the rest.
- Decide how you’ll achieve these goals – consider how long it will ideally take you to develop these new skills and which method you’re going to use e.g. starting an online course.
- Execute your strategy – your skills aren’t going to develop by themselves. So make sure you follow your plan and reap the benefits of the results 🙂
Growth Mindset in the Workplace
Last but not least, here are a few tips to help you develop a growth mindset in the workplace: (And don’t worry, they’re NOT easier said than done)
1. Accept your imperfections – work on improving and developing your skills, especially those you find hard. Don’t simply give up just because you’re not the best at something.
2. Focus on your growth rather than speed – take time to explore ideas and develop new skills that will help you improve, allowing for complications or setbacks along the way. You won’t gain anything by rushing through tasks half-heartedly.
3. Value the ‘process over the end goal’ – enjoy the entire process and don’t just focus on the success of the outcome.
4. Think of failure as part of the learning process – a difficult task will challenge you and ultimately push you towards self-development.
5. Ask for feedback – challenge yourself by asking your boss and colleagues to evaluate your performance on a regular basis. Respond to their comments constructively and use them to help you improve.
6. Always make new goals – as soon as you’ve achieved one, make another. Always set out to learn more and NEVER be complacent. You’ll have a sense of purpose knowing you’re constantly working towards something better.
7. Be proud of your attitude – as soon as you develop a growth mindset, be confident with your ability to adapt and improve, and use it to drive your professional development throughout your entire career.
And now ask yourself – does your workplace have a growth mindset? If the answer is no, work with your team and manager to implement the simple tips above. An entire team that possesses a positive and determined attitude, unafraid to take risks and eager to embrace challenges, will always achieve more.
As Peter Halacsy, Co-Founder & CTO of the startup Prezi said: “Better, never the best”. You may not be the ‘best’ at something, but with hard work and perseverance you can certainly grow, ultimately leading to your professional development.
Remember: you’re competing with yourself, NOT your colleagues.
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