One Word: Mindset

A simple premise that can significantly shape our lives can be narrowed down to one word: mindset.

Mindset influences how you think, feel and behave in any situation. Dr. Carol Dweck has spent years researching this powerful concept and has simplified it to two types of mindset: fixed and growth. Many parents and employers have pondered how to shift a person’s mindset from fixed and limited into a person who embraces a mindset of growth and opportunity.

As a society living through a pandemic, our mindset has been tested on a daily basis. Adhering to self-imposed isolation, worrying about the health of friends and family members, adjusting to changes with work dynamics and school schedules — our collective worlds were abruptly shaken 18 months ago and the repercussions are still ringing.

Mindset has been a critical factor that has been stretched into new dimensions mentally, physically and emotionally. As we now live in a “new normal” and have adjusted to these post-COVID mandates and recommendations, it has never been more important to address the importance of a positive mindset. We desperately need to know how to propel ourselves forward in the most optimistic manner possible. We have been forced to re-examine how to lean into the growth mindset of embracing the “new” in our lives with optimism and help those with a fixed mindset to redirect that energy every day.

In a recent podcast interview with Dean Katris, Master Trainer at UandImproved (heart-based leadership development for teens and adults), he emphasized the importance of having a daily growth mindset. As a successful leader in the workforce, as well as a dad of four young adults, he truly lives out this philosophy.

At UandImproved, the pillars of leadership are communication, culture, and purpose. These are key elements in an action-oriented, dynamic training for individuals to develop themselves into powerful, purpose-driven young adults. Dean emphasized the idea that parents should not stand in the way of their child facing some adversity. Taken from an incredible quote from Charles R Swindoll, “the stronger the winds, the deeper the roots; and the longer the winds, the more beautiful the tree,” Dean stresses that parents can’t take the brunt of adversity from their child if they are to develop deep roots and a sense of independence, capability, and confidence. Allowing a young person to experience the importance of their actions — to feel their successes and their failures — teaches them a sense of ownership and develops character.

Dean also reinforced the importance of parents being a consistent presence in their child’s life, and in being their safe haven. Bolstered by a parent’s sphere of influence and support, children begin to strengthen their “mindset muscle” by embracing challenges and new experiences that they can learn from; and if they fail, be there to help them learn from the risk they had the courage to take. It’s also very important to point out positive takeaways from the experience.

Exercising a mindful mindset is a daily practice. Simple changes in how you view the task at hand can remind you to focus on the blessings and privileges of that task and help ease feelings of anxiety and stress. Here are a few examples:

  • Placing an emphasis on redirecting our speech to include positive words and replace negative thoughts. Instead of, “I have to go to school/work today,” reframe that thought as, “I can nourish my insight and provide for myself.”
  • Focus on the journey ahead. Keep a clear vision plan.
  • The word “yet” is a powerful tool. By stating that you have not yet completed your goal helps to create a mental shift. No matter how difficult or challenging the goal, it can be successfully completed, it just hasn’t happened yet.
  • Accept challenges to gain confidence and build a stronger mindset. Even if we fail, we will develop techniques to stay focused and build the positive mindset muscle for the next challenge.
  • Amongst all of these great ideas, it is important to also allow grace for ourselves. As we evolve and strive to improve, whether it is our mindset or other goals we set, an important part is to celebrate the little wins. Making mental mindset shifts and action steps can be achieved incrementally. Having the awareness and the willingness to embrace a growth mindset takes courage and is, on its own merits, a positive step in the right direction. 

According to the entrepreneur Sara Blakey, mindset “is the most determining factor for both the happiness and success in OUR life.” The billions of people who wake up everyday have a choice to either have a positive or a negative mindset. These could be things as simple as saying five positive affirmations to yourself or wearing clothing that makes you feel confident. This mentality is what helps kick start the day and keeps it going in a positive direction. For that reason alone, it is highly important to focus on and pursue a growth mindset.

Blog post by Sandy Gamba and Leigh Ann Pearson.