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BEING MINDFUL OF MINDSETS

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The Power of a Growth Mindset by Grant Driver

In July 2019, I experienced one of the most significant and yet most daunting moments of my career as a professional speaker.  I had been invited by Discovery Healthcare to present a 3-hour workshop to thirty Neurosurgeons on my research into the Neuroscience of Growth Mindset for Leaders. Discovery had requested that I equip the surgeons with practical insights that will resonate with the surgeons on both an academic and professional level.

To be honest, I was anxious about doing this presentation.  After all, the audience consisted of highly qualified Neurosurgeons and I was sharing insights that spoke directly to the subject of Neuroscience.  I experienced bouts of imposter syndrome to say the least, despite the fact that I had not only studied and spoken extensively on the subject, but had seen how effective this mindset was in helping to create wonderful change and success for many of my company’s clients.

Yet on the day and after a brief introduction to the audience by my host, so began one of the most thrilling presentations of my career.  The Neurosurgeons were incredibly interactive and engaging. The presentation was extremely well received and the evaluations exceeded my expectations. The reason why I am sharing my personal experience is that as daunting as it was to address Neurosurgeons on their home territory, was that I had to overcome my own preconceived notions about my audience and my capability to meet their expectations.  Yes, they were top surgeons but they wanted to know about growth mindset from a neuro-leadership perspective and I had the knowledge and practical experience to share the value they needed.  In short, I applied a growth mindset to identify and overcome my own anxiety to ensure that I delivered on expectations with a firm belief in my knowledge and experience.

The take home value of this personal story is that we have to, on occasion, raise our game and either embrace the challenge with a fixed mindset that is fear based or we can rise to the challenge with optimism and determination with a growth mindset.

Over the past few years, I have witnessed first-hand in my role as a consultant and executive coach to brands such as Toyota, Medtronic, Boston Scientific, Telesure and Momentum to name just a few, of how the practical application of growth mindset can propel organsiational culture to a spectacular level of effectiveness and engagement both on an employee and customer level.

As an example, through our brand engagement interventions with Toyota SA Motors we were proud to help shift Toyota into gold status for customer service.  An award that had alluded the brand for almost 30 years.  The drive behind this was a focus on changing the culture of the brand to one of a growth mindset.  We aligned the values of the brand to a growth mindset and empowered an inspirational leadership style amongst the management of the organisation with huge success.

Another of our clients, Boston Scientific, invited me to address their executive team from Europe and parts of Africa to assist in driving a more customer-centric approach and to heighten the level of executive presence of their management team.  During the presentation I spoke extensively of the power of a growth mindset to drive engagement and gave practical tips on how they could apply this neuroleadership concept to take the business leadership to the next level.  I am delighted that Boston Scientific so resonated with the idea of growth mindset that they have now added growth mindset as one of their leadership team values with great impact on employee and customer engagement.

In my one-on-one growth mindset coaching I have observed how my clients have applied this concept and approach within their careers to overcome both personal and professional challenges. The reason why this mindset works is because of the practical impact it has on how we experience and manage change.

What then is the secret behind growth mindset you may ask?  The answer is that the neuroscience of growth mindset features a suite of brain-based tools designed to help managers and employees to be more flexible, positive and engaged.  In our training we introduce three key habits that encourage resilience in the face of change and tools to lead others to do the same. The three key habits are: firstly, embrace a growth mindset by seeing change as a challenge not a threat.  Secondly, always Improve.  Experiment. Focus on progress and learn from others. Thirdly, inspire others by leading by example and displaying and encouraging a growth mindset.

Mindset determines whether we experience change as a threat or a challenge.  Threat creates negative stress that undermines productivity, along with mental and physical well-being.  Challenge energises and helps grow your brain function at its best.  In addition, our internal mindset towards our talents, capabilities and skills plays an important role in realising our potential.  Individuals who have an underlying belief that talents can be developed through hard work, finding effective learning approaches and input from others have what is called a growth mindset. Those who see individual talents as having an innate level are said to have a fixed mindset.   The mindset one adopts has an impact on how we deal with feedback and criticism and as a consequence how much we ultimately develop and achieve.

Fixed mindset thinking, the most common mindset among today’s employees leads to avoiding mistakes at all costs, remaining stuck in old ways of doing things and using change as a major threat.  Growth mindset thinking helps us to see mistakes as valuable opportunities to learn, makes us eager to innovate and welcome the challenge of change.

One’s mindset and self-esteem go hand-in-hand.  If we have a fixed mindset our self-esteem is bound with this and how we feel our talents are perceived.  If we have a growth mindset, we know that messing up is how we learn.

Our interaction with peers and the way we deliver feedback and even how we ask questions can subconsciously nudge a person to one mindset or the other.  This has a fundamental influence on employee engagement and professional performance and can ultimately make or break an organisation’s bottom line.

I guess what is important is that we become mindful of mindsets and understand the impact and personal power that we all have to embrace challenges and change.  We are all just one mind-shift away from achieving the success and growth we deserve.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Grant Driver is an award-winning speaker and a 2018 inductee of the PSASA Hall of Fame.  He is the founder of Captivate International, thought leaders in organisational change, employee engagement and leadership.  Grant is an Executive and Growth Mindset Coach and Mentor and is retained by a diverse range of clients including Toyota SA Motors, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Telesure and Momentum.

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