Why a growth mindset is your single biggest asset - career hacks for a sustainable and fulfilling life

Growth Minsdset

During a recent break, I decided to re-read Carol Dwek’s seminal work on Mindset – how you can fulfil your potential; partly because I was reflecting upon my work as a coach, mentor and advisor at Wise Sherpa and my learnings and partly because I wanted to support my daughter more effectively as a parent in her development.

For those less familiar with Carol Dwek’s work, her research on mindset identifies that people with a growth mindset tend to focus on improving, learning and effort as individuals, while people with a fixed mindset tend to assume their abilities are based largely on inborn talent and traits and therefore believe it is unlikely for them to change. Critically, individuals with a growth mindset tend to seek out challenging situations and welcome / take onboard feedback – positive or constructive – whilst those with fixed mindsets tend to set out to prove themselves to others based on their existing skills, avoiding feedback and having a tendency to select tasks at which they can look good and succeed. And to be fair, society often values and rewards fixed mindset behaviour and for many of us it is still the basis of our educations systems.

Upon further reflection, in my work, the issue of mindset is really what makes the biggest difference as to how an individual is able to progress  – the way they see themselves and as a result approach the outside world and their work through a fixed or a growth mindset really does influence whether they achieve the objectives they set themselves.

Take for example an entrepreneur I was recently fortunate enough to collaborate with. She had some pretty tough issues to work through and decisions to make when it came to taking forward her business. But she persisted with a truly open mind to seek out answers to tricky questions and stayed alert to different options so that when she had the answers she needed; she took a very difficult decision to sell her business – because it was the right thing for her. I was so impressed by her ability to stay open and receptive in the face of tough feedback – this is in stark contrast to many other experiences I have had in my career. A growth mindset really was her greatest asset.

My own professional journey has also taught me that whilst embracing a growth mindset, you also critically need to recognise if the environment you find yourself in is supporting you with your growth mindset. The periods in my career where I truly embraced a growth mindset have been some of my most productive but only upon reflection when these have also coincided with an environment which allowed or even encouraged exploration and a tolerance of failure. As leaders and managers, it is therefore our responsibility to not only encourage growth mindsets in ourselves and those around us but to crucially ensure the environments we create truly nurture and support this.

Finally, having a growth mindset requires application – it’s a conscious choice. In my experience of working with clients (as well as on myself) helping individuals to recognise and start accessing a growth mindset takes focus but it does really play a critical role in whether they do or don’t start to unlock the door to a fulfilling career and life and reap the rewards.

*career hacks = ideas that can inspire and influence you to take action when it comes to your career

Rebecca Hill of Wise Sherpa specialises in executive coaching, business mentoring and is a consultant on strategy and change. For more information please get in touch using the details on the contact page of this website.


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