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Some reflections on a Growth Mindset

Written by Annette Cairns on .
tennis court

Emma Radacanu is undoubtedly a talent. A tennis star that we shall be watching with great interest. She was a wild card at Wimbledon and there was much talk of her not being able to cope with the stress and the strain of being in such a prestigious event. And yet three months later she comes storming back and takes the US Open in straight sets. I watch tennis very occasionally, but seeing some of the shots she pulled off was inspirational.

What also impressed me was the Queen’s message to her.

“It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age, and is testament to your hard work and dedication”.

I have recently finished Carol Dweck’s book, “Mindset: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential”. I knew about the Growth Mindset, but had not read the book until now. And it was a bit of a revelation! The Queen’s message to Emma praised her hard work and dedication, rather than her talent. How often do we hear and see feedback which says “You were brilliant”, “You are amazing”, "You are so talented”? rather than "What you have done was remarkable."

I remember many years ago I was at my parents’ house with several my siblings and various nephews and nieces. One nephew was about 6 or 7 at the time and had been playing a game with my brother and then with my sister. He won every time. Well, I thought he must be a genius! I was encouraged by my brother to play the same game with my nephew. And I won. We played again, I won again. My nephew had a tantrum, and I was soundly told off by my sister for not allowing him to win. I replied that life wasn’t like that and always letting him win may give him unrealistic expectations of both himself and the world.

I don’t have children so my parenting skills have never been in question. It does seem that there are so many young people coming into the workplace or about to go to university who have been praised by their parents for being brilliant or that the world is theirs for the taking. How are we helping by telling them that they are great and talented instead of giving them feedback about the effort they put into it to make things happen? Even the biggest talent will benefit from hard work or they will find themselves second to someone who has less “talent” but practices and words hard to get better. And then reality will hit. As it did for me!

Carol Dweck’s book really resonated with me, and I make a full confession that my mindset has been fixed in the past. I have given up things when they proved to involve more effort on my part than I was prepared to put in, and blamed circumstance or others when events didn’t turn out as I wanted to them to. I wonder now what my life would have been like if I had worked for my A levels, if I had put my heart and soul into my degree, and if I had not blamed others for not getting that job, or that promotion.

It has been an uncomfortable experience looking back and recognising that the only person who could have done things differently was me.

The last 18 months have seen shifts in the way we work and learning has come thick and fast for me. I started my own company last January, at what can only be described as epic timing! And have managed to be able to blame the pandemic for me not being as successful as I wanted to be. Nah…it was entirely down to me! Many people told me I would be brilliant at it…and I believed the hype.

What I was not hearing was that it would take really hard work to make it brilliant and a success.

Now with hard work and a lot of support from some very splendid people things are starting to really come together. My mindset has shifted beyond recognition as I embrace every opportunity to learn from what has worked, and find even more learning from the things that have gone awry. This has changed the way I run my business, run my learning programmes, coach people and even to the way I play my cornet.

I am taking every opportunity to improve the way I deliver my programmes and coach others, by really listening out to feedback and challenging myself to make it better every time. I have found reading books on theory of management etc a bit of a trial previously. I am looking at them differently now – with curiosity and excitement. What else may I find out about myself, and how can I share that learning?

As I write this I can honestly say that much of the self-learning in the last 18 months has been uncomfortable. A very wise lady asked me “What would need to change to make it comfortable”? Well that is easier to answer now than when she asked it…. Converting my fixed mindset to a growth mindset, actively encouraging constructive feedback and learning from it!

NLP is now an integral part of my training toolkit. I use it when training and through my coaching practice to build rapport and enable others to find their own learning. I am a convert!

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If you would like to find out how Green Shed Talent Development Ltd could help with your Growth Mindset or that of your team’s please get in touch at www.greenshedtalent.co.uk. I would love to share my learning with people so that they can learn from their own failures and mistakes!

Annette Cairns - Trainer, Facilitator, Coach, NLP Master Practitioner

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