Last updated: A growth mindset is more than a mission statement

A growth mindset is more than a mission statement


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Growth is a powerful motivator for all businesses, but what does it mean to adopt a true growth mindset?

The common misconception is that a growth mindset just means more, more, more. There is an assumption that if you throw enough resources – talent, money and time – at a goal, growth happens. You might call this the “brute force” method for targeting growth, but it’s not a very efficient way to do business.

An effective growth mindset values efficiency, innovation and a constant commitment to learning. The scholar Carol Dweck has done brilliant work defining the growth mindset, and we can learn much by analyzing her approach to growth. One of my favorite statements of hers is:

“Mission statements are wonderful things… but what do they mean to employees if the company doesn’t institute policies that make them real and attainable?”

She is right. If growth were easy, it wouldn’t be so rewarding. The key is not just to preach growth, but to provide the tools that make it possible. A big part of that comes from culture and creating an environment where following a constructive process is as important as pursuing positive results. Innovation rarely follows a straight line.

Growth can’t be achieved through brute force; it has to be nurtured.

Another way to look at the same concept is to value effort over innate talent. By putting the focus on effort, you take the “magic” out of success.

It’s all about employees investing their time and energy in the process in order to continue on a positive path toward growth. Putting the focus on effort is also empowering because it puts all employees on a level playing field.

Productive mistakes are part of growth

Another point that Carol makes is that in order for organizations to develop a growth culture, they need to embolden their employees to take a certain amount of risk and to make it safe for them to do so. Some risks just won’t work out, but employees need to know up front that they won’t be punished for failures if important and useful lessons are learned.

In science, you’ll often read some variation of the concept that a negative result isn’t a bad result. Basically, this means that an experiment that doesn’t prove its hypothesis still has value as a learning experience. Ruling out one possibility brings you closer to finding the right answer. The same goes for taking risks and pursuing growth in business.

Not every new idea will be a success, but you want to create an environment where employees feel empowered to keep trying.

This goes back to putting in the effort, but it also means that it’s important to invest that effort wisely. You want your employees to work hard and smart. If they hold up their end of the bargain, then they should be rewarded even when a risk doesn’t pay off. This doesn’t mean embracing failure, but it’s wise to remember that there are always detours on the path to success.

This is critically important now in the retail arena. So much is changing, and way too many are either holding on for dear life, or making changes that yield little or no results… fearing mistakes and missteps and missing the potential opportunities.

Growth is always a work in progress

Focusing on changing our mindsets around growth isn’t easy. There are always opposing forces tugging at us. Here’s another quote from Carol that sums it up perfectly:

“Everyone is actually a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets, and that mixture continually evolves with experience.”

A fixed mindset is basically the opposite of what we’ve talked about so far – closed-minded, and with a belief in natural talent instead of focused effort. Even the greatest innovators have to grapple with the conflict between fixed and growth mindsets.

Again, it comes back to putting the focus on progress, and learning to recognize those “fixed mindset moments” so that we can do something about them—both as individuals and as companies. A growth mindset does not require blind optimism, but it does require structure. Developing new habits of thought takes time and repetition.

For individuals it’s all about making honest assessments and consistently putting in the effort required to keep making progress even when a project doesn’t work out as planned. It’s the same for companies, but they also need to establish a collaborative culture to support individual initiative.

Yes, establishing a growth mindset can be challenging. However, the key to sustaining growth is to realize that we’re all in it together—and there are always valuable lessons to be learned if we’re willing to look for them and use them to reach our goals.

Amazing every time.

A CX that drives loyalty + bottom lines starts HERE.

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