What opportunity did you recently pass up that left you with nagging regret ? Maybe should have spoken up in that meeting? Did you avoid international travel, because you could not speak the language? What are all the ways your comfort zone cage is limiting your personal growth? We're all afraid of something, but some of us move past it and others do not. Those of us breaking free have a growth mindset which empowers us to quickly overcome fear. Those with a fixed mindset believe they cannot change and minimize their risk by not trying. If having a growth mindset is something you want, then you're in luck! Recent science around neuroplasticity proves the brain will adapt and change with practice. It takes time, but it's easy! It's just a matter of intentional practice. Keep reading to learn about the growth mindset, neuroplasticity and how to start developing it today!
What Is This Power You Speak Of?
Carol Dweck published her earliest work on mindsets in 1988. She identified two specific mindsets that relate to how we perceive ourselves and abilities. The fixed mindset believes we are what we are. Our strengths and abilities are what we're born with and there's little we can do to change that. The growth mindset believes it can continually gain new strengths and abilities by learning and practicing new skills. Fixed mindsets create performance goals that avoid failure from overextending beyond their abilities. This behavior, or inability to overcome fear, stunts the personal growth of anyone with a fixed mindset. A growth mindset creates learning goals that lead to challenges, and the unknown, in search of new knowledge and experience.
The growth mindset views failure as part of the process. Someone with a growth mindset will be quick to come out of their comfort zone, because it's easier to overcome fear when it's not high to start with. This is the true advantage of the growth mindset and how to accelerate your personal growth. The rate at which we learn and grow is directly proportional to the time spent outside of our comfort zone. A fixed mindset will naturally spend less time in discomfort, so the consequence is slower development. Slower development leads to less opportunity over time. If you don't like the sound of this, then continue reading about neuroplasticity and how to begin developing your growth mindset now!
I Can Do What with My Brain?!
It was previously believed that the functions of the brain were compartmentalized and fixed. This meant that the loss of a function was permanent. The discovery of neuroplasticity came from the efforts of Michael Marzenich trying to prove this was the case in the 1970's. He found that functions lost from brain damage could be relearned in the remaining healthy areas. This occurs in part by how the brain functions and the rest from our own efforts. How can we leverage neuroplasticity? Neural connections are made stronger or weaker based on what we choose to do every day. We're able to rewire our brains as we focus intently on what we want, create new thoughts and practice new behaviors.
The same thought and story from a fixed mindset can be changed to that of a growth mindset. If you believe you can't change, then start telling yourself a new story where you can. Start practicing the change you want to make. Do this for an extended period of time (try three months) and the old belief and feeling will start to fade. This practice will put you outside of your comfort zone, but that's where the magic happens. Slowly you'll overcome fear by replacing it with experience. The experience you gain during this process will solidify the new belief and just like that you're creating a growth mindset! Next I'll talk about five simple practices to make this a reality.
Where Do I Start?!
Our personal growth is greatly accelerated by having a growth mindset, but we have to work for it. Using these practices will feel uncomfortable, but that's what this is all about! There are many practices you can do to help create the mindset, but here are 5 of my favorites:
- Embrace Imperfection - We can't improve what we avoid.
- Use "Yet" - Say I'm not there yet, but I continue to improve.
- Embrace the process of failure while learning - Experience comes from trying and learning what works versus what does not.
- Spend more time with others that have a growth mindset - You're the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.
- Celebrate Growth - Go out for dinner, buy some shoes, go golfing, etc.
These are just a handful of actions you can take to create a growth mindset and catapult your personal growth. Here's a list of 25 more you may find useful.
Wrapping It All Up...
The mindset we carry around with us plays a big part in our level of achievement throughout our lives. Put yourself at an advantage by shifting from a fixed to a growth mindset now! If you already have a growth mindset, then take some to time to reflect on ways to expand it.
The science behind neuroplasticity proves we can rewire our brain with intention and practice. Nothing is forever, so if you're serious about making the change and taking action, then it's just a matter of time. Start telling yourself new stories about the truths you want to have versus the ones currently embedded there. Begin taking action with the five practices I mentioned here and your brain will make the shift.
There is certainty in our comfort zone cage, but growth and change do not exist there. It's much easier to overcome fear when it's greatly reduced from the onset. Do not fuel your fear with a fixed mindset, but rather make it go away by shifting to a growth mindset. Your personal growth and opportunity will increase exponentially. Use the practices mentioned here to start your journey today!