What is the secret to career success?

For me it’s one word. Learning. However, this can mean many different things.  

How do you approach learning? Do you seek to learn or do you just ‘get through the here and now’ and hope to learn a few things to evidence just before your next 1-2-1?

For me personally, when I first heard about the ‘Growth Mindset’ it struck a chord. That’s me. This is how I approach life. I class myself as someone who sees my development as ever changing and never ending. I don’t feel like I’ll ever reach an ‘end point’.

There is a belief that the Growth Mindset allows you to achieve more. Its about attitude. Most importantly, it’s all in your control.

What are Growth and fixed mindsets?

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has created a simple framework which aims to help people like you and I, our teams and organisations understand the power of the mindset. It can both be a motivator and a barrier.

During an Amazing If podcast, Sarah and Helen describe people who display the Growth Mindset as people who are ‘spongey’:

·         Behaviours such as being curious, asking questions, dedication to learning and spending time to improve

·         There are no limits on what you feel you can achieve

·         Growth mindset people illustrate that they are a ‘Work in Progress’ and they are always open to learning

·         These people are often open to feedback and actively invite feedback to support their development

·         You wouldn’t say ‘I can’t do that’ you would say ‘I can’t do that yet

In the words of Michael Jordan:

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By contrast, the Fixed Mindset is just that. Fixed, stable and unmoving. During the podcast Sarah describes it as ‘an immovable mountain’.

·         Behaviours can often be defensive and protective of the here and now, see feedback as a negative and avoid criticism at all costs

·         Challenging events or situations are often seen as a negative rather than an opportunity to develop and grow

·         Some people also put a lot of emphasis on the validation of others to make them feel that they have done ‘a good job’ rather than having inner confidence

·         You will hear someone with a fixed mindset saying things like;

o   “People don’t change”

o   “I am who I am, and I couldn’t ever do/change that”

o   “That’s not for me”

o    ‘I can’t do that’

o   ‘I won’t be able to learn that’

The infographic below is a useful summary:

Can you spot your own traits?

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However, it’s important to know that we all operate on a continuum. Often moving between the two types of mindset. The key is recognising when you slip into the Fixed Mindset and understanding your triggers. Within different contexts we may often move between the two.

What are your triggers? How can you be less fixed?

Watch out for some top tips coming soon.

Becki Jarvis, Research Director


Annabel Gerrard