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How Can You Get A Leopard To Change It’s Spots

How Can You Get A Leopard To Change It’s Spots

Imagine that you’ve just completed a project at work. Your supervisor tells you that you didn’t deliver things exactly the way he wants, and he asks you to redo the project.

For some people, this would be cause for a meltdown, but you take it in stride. You go back to your desk, digest what was just said,and assess the work you put into the project. Instead of having a pity party, you make a commitment to improve the quality of your work.

A colleague who was in the meeting where you presented stops by your desk and says, ” We can’t be good at everything. This task might be outside of your area of expertise. You should play to your strengths and let someone with more talent in this area handle these types of assignments. ”

Your colleague may have been trying to make you feel better, but she made you wonder, “How can I become better if I never try new things? Are all of our talents assigned to us from birth?”

There are two kinds of people in this world

    There are those who create the life they love, and those who feel that life happens to them. That seemingly small difference in perspective can have major impacts on the way that you live your life.[1]

    People who work to build the life that they want make choices to propel themselves forward. Those who let life happen to them assume a victim mentality that prevents them from getting ahead. Having the right mindset is the key to success.

    Thinking back to the scenario from the beginning, there are two ways you could view that feedback from the boss. If you have a growth mindset, you won’t take the feedback personally. You’ll use it to grow, and you’ll take the negative comments from your coworker with a grain of salt.

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    On the other hand, the colleague who seems to believe that some people are just more capable than others will have a harder time when facing criticism. That person is more likely to accept defeat, and feels that her destiny is out of her control. If given the same feedback, she would probably just throw in the towel.

    The difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset

    You may have intuitively picked up on the different types of people, but there’s actually some scholarship behind this as well. Carol S. Dweck developed mindset theory to explain how our perceptions about the world shape our reality.[2]

    Fixed mindsets can be detrimental to a person’s success

    A person with a fixed mindset avoids challenges, quits before they should, doesn’t think effort is valuable, and can’t take feedback.

    People with fixed mindsets can be successful, but they tend to reach their limits sooner than people with a growth mindset. They always fall short of their potential because they aren’t willing to go out on a limb. They’ll say and think things like, “I’ll never be that good,” or “I’m no good at that, so I’ll ask someone else to do it instead.” “I’ve never been able to do this, and nothing can make me better.”

    When someone with a fixed mindset is confronted with failure, they take it personally. They tie success so closely with their identity that it’s hard for them to hear constructive criticism. In their minds, “That could be better,” translates to, “You aren’t good enough.” They learn to be helpless, and it keeps them from achieving.[3]

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          Some think you’re born with it, and some know you work hard

          One of the key tenets of Dweck’s theory is that some people believe that they have inborn talents, while others know that you grow your skills.

          People with a growth mindset feel just the opposite. They know that they are always capable of learning new things. When you have a growth mindset, you don’t worry so much about failure because you know that making mistakes is a part of learning. You know that you can always change course or get more training.

          This is not to say that people with a growth mindset can’t feel the sting of failure. It just means that the failure doesn’t ultimately define them.

          Your experience shapes your mindset

          The development of fixed and growth mindsets starts at a young age. When a teacher says to a child, “You did well because you’re smart,” the child cannot own their success. It was not their effort, but their innate ability that got them ahead. This leads to a fixed mindset.[4]

          On the other hand, when a teacher says to a student, “You did so well on your project because you tried hard,” it has a different effect. The student attributes success to the amount of effort that they put into their work.

          How people with fixed mindsets can affect you?

          Being surrounded by the negativity of a fixed mindset can take its toll on you. You may have noticed one or more of these signs of a fixed mindset in your day-to-day interactions with others.

            When people believe that they just are the way they are, it makes them risk-averse. They avoid challenges because the cost of failure is too high.

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              People with fixed mindsets tend to be jealous when others get ahead in life because they feel that the other person was simply given more at birth.[5]

                When you’re stuck in your ways, the last thing you want is someone trying to change things for you. That’s why people with a fixed mindset often ignore advice. When they do take it to heart, it might hurt their feelings.

                  People with fixed mindsets don’t believe that you can get ahead by working hard. As a result, they may ridicule people who genuinely want to improve.[6]

                    Don’t get trapped by people with fixed mindsets

                    Dealing with people with fixed mindsets can be tough. In some cases, you can easily remove yourself from the situation. If your friend has a toxic, fixed mindset, you can choose to part ways with them. You can’t always cut people out of your life, though.

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                    Your coworkers, family members, and close friends may also possess fixed mindsets. You can’t necessarily fire your coworkers, and you may choose not to speak to your family, but many of us choose to love our families and friends in spite of their flawed thinking.

                    Sometimes you have to deal with the person who lacks a growth mindset. Here’s how:

                    1. When you argue with them, stick to the facts and avoid making your comment personal

                    They’re already going to take your suggestions personally. Securing your argument with facts keeps them more emotion-neutral. Avoid saying, “I think it’s better if…” You’re asserting your opinion and making it personal. Remove this sentence from your responses to keep them from getting offended. Control your emotions is crucial too. They may get frustrated when you try to offer advice. Don’t get emotional and fire back an angry retort. Say what you need to say, and then leave them to think. Give them time to digest what you’ve said. If they feel you’re right, this could alter how they think.

                    2. Stop trying to fix them. 

                    Since they have a fixed mindset, trying to change their mind won’t work. They only listen to themselves, so it’s better to offer them options secured with facts like what we stated above. You have to make it seem like it’s their idea, or it won’t work.

                    3. Keep your laser-like focus and keep track of your goal

                    Know what you need to do, and avoid being dragged down by their mindset. They may try to discourage you from doing something because they don’t believe that change is possible. You have a growth mindset, which means that you can see things in ways that they can’t. Keep track of your goals. Being surrounded by people who do not believe in the power of working hard can rob you of your motivation. Having your goals written will help you stick to them.

                    4. Surround yourself with people with a growth mindset.

                    Whenever possible, try to find others who share your belief in the power of learning and effort. Don’t worry about your group becoming narrow-minded. People with growth mindsets are naturally open to discussing topics and accepting criticism. You will continue to improve together.

                    They may have been raised with a fixed mindset, or they might have learned to be helpless in school. It’s up to you to recognize fixed mindsets and constantly strive for your own growth. Don’t give anyone the power to keep you from your dreams.

                    Reference

                    More by this author

                    Brian Lee

                    Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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                    Last Updated on July 13, 2020

                    How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

                    How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

                    Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

                    If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

                    1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

                    The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

                    Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

                    For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

                    The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

                    2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

                    Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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                    As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

                    Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

                    3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

                    Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

                      This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

                      We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

                      Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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                      When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

                      Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

                      4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

                      Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

                      For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

                      Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

                      5. Make Decisions

                      For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

                      If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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                      If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

                      Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

                      I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

                      This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

                      The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

                      6. Take Some Form of Action

                      Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

                      The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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                      It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

                      Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

                      The Bottom Line

                      Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

                      When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

                      More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

                      Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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