When I was growing up I had a friend who was very athletic. She always seemed to get out of school by going to the regional, zone and state athletic carnivals and she would come back with a fistful of medals and trophies.
I was very envious. The best I could do was come last in a three-legged race.
I wasn’t athletic, but I was smart.
I learned that not every kid gets a trophy and this helped me to understand my strengths and weaknesses.
This memory came to the fore recently when one of my clients was telling me about some of his team members whom he had to let go. “Shirl, they just couldn’t do the job. They just couldn’t seem to learn it. I really started questioning myself and whether it was the way I was training them and you know the really interesting thing, was that they didn’t see it. They really thought their skills and ability were much higher than I did.”
This also reminded me of the research conducted by Carol Dweck. According to Dweck, there are two basic mindsets: fixed and growth. If you have a fixed mindset, you believe your abilities are fixed traits and therefore can’t be changed. You may also believe that your talent and intelligence alone leads to success, and effort is not required.
In my client’s case, the team members seemed to have a fixed mindset albeit an inflated picture of their real abilities.
Dweck worked with children in school and found that some would not even try because they had decided they couldn’t learn or that they were stupid etc. They blamed themselves and circumstances and believed nothing could or would change. This is a Fixed mindset.
With one 3 letter word, Dweck was able to help them change their mindset to that of a Growth mindset, where they were able to believe that effort and practice over time could make a meaningful difference. A fixed mindset contributes to limiting beliefs whereas a growth mindset empowers beliefs.
Would you like to know what the three letter word is?
It’s “Yet”. When children said they couldn’t do something, Dweck encouraged them by adding the word “yet” to the end of their sentence.
Give it a go. Next time you find yourself limiting what you think you can achieve, insert the word “yet” when you hear yourself say, I can’t …………yet.
And as for the kids with a fixed mindset that they can’t be beaten or no-one else is as good as them, a timely reminder that not every kid gets a trophy.
If you’re interested to see whether you’ve got a fixed or growth mindset click on the link to complete the quiz.
P.S. Invite your friends to get the Weekly Thoughts delivered directly to their inbox. Go to https://shirleydalton.com/weekly-thoughts.