Do you have a fixed or growth mindset? If you read Mindset … Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential by Dr. Carol S. Dweck, you will, first of all, understand what both a fixed and growth mindset really are. Only when you appreciate the difference can you answer my question.
I thought I had a 100% growth mindset until I was faced with a pretty big personal challenge recently. I had been divorced and single for 11 years. Post-divorce I had a few key aspirations which I had focused on achieving, not to mention finding myself again after 25 years and having a great time! I had also achieved some unexpected goals along the way, for example, writing a book and this had stretched my view of myself, both my capabilities and my mindset.
After 11 years of single life, relentless focus and success nailing my goals, I found myself facing a big question … What next? I’d been grappling in the background, in my own mind with this question for about a year, when I elected to have an operation on my left foot to save me from demotion to flat shoes!
It was whilst I was imprisoned at home alone for what seemed like an eternity that I was able to interpret the question which actually wasn’t ‘what next’? It was … Do I want to spend the rest of my life single? This was actually a question I had avoided because, despite being someone who lives life to the full, on the basis of ‘what’s the worse thing that can happen’, in this instance, I had a fixed mindset when it came to doing anything meaningful to change it. Whilst engulfed in a period of relative isolation, I was unable to avoid addressing the issue of my mindset and I had to look in the mirror and accept that this was one aspiration that I had not thrown the kitchen sink at. In fact, I had done nothing at all to progress my aspiration to be in a happy and fulfilling relationship. This realisation was both enlightening and frightening at the same time. Enlightening because I had been in denial about my effort and frightening because, having realised that I’d failed to focus and succeed, I would have to rise to this challenge and put myself out of my comfort zone.
I was very clear about the attributes, non-negotiable features and value adds of a perfect match and proceeded to list these in an online dating profile! I had written a job description that kept me relatively safe, not having to reveal too much in terms of who I am. I then very quickly realised this once I read it online and had to open up quite a bit more to a growth mindset to edit it! To say I was thoroughly stressed out for the first 48 hours would be an understatement. However, I quickly got to grips with this new process and applying my instincts and in less than 2 weeks, found the love of my life … Unbelievable! Particularly when my fixed mindset on the subject had allowed me to tell myself that who I was looking for wasn’t out there. A convenient, personally created, blocker to progress.
What is even more fantastic is that Andrew not only adds huge value to my life, fits my attributes and non-negotiable criteria, he also brings a very well developed, growth mindset to the party … Life is now full of daily challenges! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that one of my criteria was someone who could and would challenge me … This has been both a very good choice of key criteria and a great lesson in being careful what you wish for!
The moral of the story … You may be asking, why is she putting this very personal story out there as an insight? The answer is this … I believe the majority of us are, to some degree of a fixed mindset and we don’t realise it because we only have our own frame of reference through which to see things. It takes bravery, openness to vulnerability and a fearless approach to the unknown to look outside our own mindset. Ultimately, the fixed mindset is driven by fear of exposure … to failure, humiliation, debt and a whole host of other things. In my case, it was fear of getting hurt. I am very lucky to have found someone with such a strong growth mindset … His fearlessness is even greater than mine and so uplifting.
I am proof that even when you have a largely growth mindset, when you push your own boundaries, the rewards are potentially greater than you could have dreamed of. Andrew and I were married in New York on Christmas Eve 2019.
Just think what the power of a workforce of open minds could achieve … Coming soon.