True Grit - It’s All In The Mind

Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it. - Steve Maraboli


In case you missed this week’s Change School TV episode, Grace and Solonia share a deep-dive discussion all about the importance of building mental strength, how to cultivate a growth mindset, and embracing possibilities.


Everything we think, feel and do is a product of our attitude and mindset. How we feel when we wake up every morning. How we deal with different events and interactions throughout our day. How we respond or react to different situations. How we perceive challenges and obstacles, and how we find solutions. Everything experience we have, every decision we make, ultimately comes down to our attitude and mindset.


Today’s discussion focuses on three types of mindsets that directly impact our success and happiness: a Fixed Mindset, a Growth Mindset, and Possibility-thinking.


The Fixed Mindset


A ‘fixed’ mindset assumes that our character, intelligence, and creativity are static qualities - predetermined from the day we are born and carved in stone. It assumes that these qualities cannot be changed meaningfully, therefore our potential for “success” is also fixed and out of our control.


People who subscribe to this way of thinking struggle the most with change. Accepting the status quo without question, they strive for a pre-defined notion of success, become obsessed with proving themselves, and avoid all risks at all costs in order to maintain the sense of being smart or skilled.


The most common pitfalls of a fixed mindset are:


Self-limiting beliefs - believing we cannot advance ourselves through learning, improving or trying

Skepticism - reacting to new or uncertain opportunities with unfounded judgment, doubt, and criticism

Complacency - choosing the path of least resistance to avoid challenges, friction, or discomfort

Insecurity - lacking courage, confidence and a sense of self-worth

Fear - stress, worry, people-pleasing and risk-aversion out of fear or failure or disappointment


How do we get our heads out of this headspace? By becoming aware of our own mental habits.


Here are some examples of how / when a fixed mindset may be hindering you:


Is there something you’ve always wanted to do by haven’t? What’s stopped you? Are the voices in your head causing you to doubt yourself, limit your possibilities, or shy away from just doing it?


What is your immediate response when someone comes to you with a new or ‘crazy’ idea? Do you look to understand by asking questions, or do you immediately think of all the reasons it can’t be done? Do you welcome discussion, exploration and experimentation, or do you resist or reject the creative process?


When’s the last time you set yourself a stretch goal or challenge? Do you get overwhelmed with fear of making a mistake, being judged, or ‘failing’, or do you muster the courage and motivation to keep striving?


Bringing awareness to our thoughts, feelings and actions (or inactions) is the first step to pulling ourselves out of a fixed mindset and pushing ourselves to grow.


The Growth Mindset


A growth mindset thrives on challenges as fuel for growth and stretching - both personally and professionally. It assumes that everyone can change and improve their natural qualities through application, experience and effort.


People who subscribe to this way of thinking are best positioned to develop greater self-awareness, resilience (the ability to bounce back from adversity), and grit (the motivational drive that keeps you on a difficult task over a sustained period). They also tend to be happier in life by indulging curiosity, exploration and self-discovery.


At The Change School, we often talk about the importance of staying positive. This isn’t about being happy all the time or overly-optimistic - it’s about seeing the positive aspect of any given situation and choosing to focus on the opportunities to create, to learn, and to become something greater than we are.


It is also about increasing our capacity for happiness. When we believe that we have the power to change ourselves - and our surroundings - we feel positive, motivated, and driven to make things happen.


As a result, we shift our focus from what is to what could be. We do this by:

Experimenting - trying new things, testing ideas, learning by doing and constantly improving

Disrupting - challenging social norms / notions, questioning widespread beliefs, and sparking debate

Innovating - embracing new ideas and ways of thinking, doing and being

Pushing Boundaries - actively seeking opportunities that take us out of our comfort zone


How do we get ourselves into this headspace? By being vulnerable, courageous and bold in our Life/Work pursuits.


Consider these examples to recall when you’ve exemplified a growth mindset personally/professionally:


When was the last time you asked for help, admitted to not knowing something, or dared to do something differently?


When was the last time you voiced a difference of opinion, raised a controversial topic for discussion, or went against the grain?


When was the last time you took a risk in your Life/Work, ran with a half-baked idea, or bounced back from adversity? What did those experiences teach you?


Allowing our curiosity, potential and passion to lead us into unchartered territory is the first step to uncovering our limitless possibilities.


The Possibility Mindset


A possibility mindset means that when a new idea or opportunity arises, we are able to see the range of possibilities that may be potentially available to us. It assumes there are always options, variations, a light at the end of the tunnel.


So much of our work at The Change School centers around the idea of Reframing. This is about shifting the way we see problems and obstacles that come up in our lives and uncovering the hidden opportunities. Rather than waiting for something to trigger us into a reactionary response, proactively make things happen.


Some examples of everyday situations that offer limitless possibilities are:


Completing a task before the deadline. How would you spend this freed up time doing other activities/tasks you enjoy?


Exploring your career prospects before it becomes a necessity. What exploratory conversations might you be more open to having while you are already employed and free of pressure to ‘find a job’?


Prioritising your relationships before time runs out. People move, time flies, circumstances change. What would you do differently if you knew your most cherished relationships had an expiry date?

There are no guarantees or certainties in life. Waiting for things to happen is like being the backseat driver in the road of life. When we embrace possibilities, we become co-creators of our destiny on the road to anywhere you want to go.


Check out these resources for more inspiration, insights and tools for True Grit:

Free Online Assessment - Angela Duckworth’s Grit Scale

TEDx Talk - Change Your Mindset, Change The Game

Change Planner - Change Your Habits, Change Your Life