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Published on January 30, 2020

7 Growth Mindset Activities To Build Your Mindset

7 Growth Mindset Activities To Build Your Mindset

Ever since Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, has been published in 2007, “the growth mindset” has been a buzzword. I’ve already talked about its power in the past. How it can be the key to deeper learning, and growth in many areas of your life.

And there have plenty of studies that have continued to explore the growth mindset.[1] But one thing that I haven’t touched on yet is that while we can be fostering a growth mindset, Dweck makes an important note:

“The path to a growth mindset is a journey, not a proclamation.”

What this means is not only should we be creating an environment, but indulge in growth mindset activities. Activities that can help us develop ourselves further and enjoy the process.

What Is a Growth Mindset?

For the uninitiated, a growth mindset is a mindset coined by Carol Dweck, Dweck talks about two mindsets: fixed mindset and growth mindset.

Based on her research, Dweck came to realize that whether a child would succeed or fail boiled down to their mindset. She realized that those who were encouraged to learn more had a different attitude and behaviour about everything in life compared to others.

For example, one student would see challenges as opportunities to grow while others would give up after they failed the first time. She attributed these behaviors to the two mindsets I mentioned above.

But though Dweck’s research covered children, adults aren’t that different. We are after all a more mature version of our habits as children in some cases.

For example, look at our own goals in life. Are you someone who doesn’t set them or gives up after you failed? Chances are you have a fixed mindset which suggests that everything you do is based on your current skills. You also – in all likelihood – have stopped learning about your industry or growing your skills.

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Unless you have a growth mindset.

7 Growth Mindset Activities To Try

So if you are looking to be growing yourself, it’s important to develop your mindset. One such way is through growth mindset activities. Even though it’s best to learn and use these at a younger age, we can still change our ways as we grow older. As the saying goes,

“The best time to grow a tree was ten years ago. The second best time to grow one is right now.”

With that in mind, here are some growth mindset activities you can try out.

1. Self Exploration

If it’s not clear already, our current mindset influences how we shape our future moving forward. If we have a fixed mindset, chances are likely that we’ll be stuck in the same position we are in right now.

So one thing that we can do to change that is doing some growth mindset activities that encourage us to change. One such activity is self-exploration. This means diving into your mindset and start making changes to that mindset.

To help with that, I suggest watching the video ‘Lost Generation’. It’s a two-minute video, but the idea is to get others to watch the video, and for you and the others to discuss what they found about this video.

The idea of the discussions is to touch on how the future changes based on the attitude we adopt today. You want to end this experiment with the question: What happens when we change our mindsets?

If you can’t do this in a group or with someone else, you can still gain some benefits by asking about how you felt about the video.

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Here’s the video:

2. Identify Everday Mindset Examples

A fixed mindset and growth mindset don’t just show up in learning environments but everyday life too. Out of the several growth mindset activities out there, this one brings our attitudes to the forefront. How it does that is that we are looking at the behavior and presenting examples.

To do this activity, take several sheets of paper and an assortment of colored pens. If you’re doing this by yourself, then you could type these out.

After that, write down examples of how each mindset can be applied in everyday life. These can be phrases that each mindset uses, their opinions to subjects like challenges, failure, and roadblocks, how they handle adversity, and so on.

To do this activity properly, you will need to have a general description of both of these mindsets. It also pays to do this in a group as the idea is to write these out and then discuss why you think this way.

3. Take Action

One of the simplest growth mindset activities out there is to do it. Starting something new, whether it’s learning something or building a habit, is the toughest part. If you have a fixed mindset, there are good odds that you’re not eager to step out of that comfort zone.

If you want to develop a growth mindset, you’ll need to change your attitude and start doing more. This isn’t just focusing on stuff you’re passionate about. It’s also about exploring new passions. This means trying things you wouldn’t have thought of.

4. Self-Reflection

Similar to self-exploration, self-reflection is also important. Self-reflection is one of the growth mindset activities that looks at your external self rather than internal. It’ll focus on your skills that you’ve built and how you were able to develop them.

Regardless of the mindset you have right now, reflecting this way can piece together many things. For one, it helps us to realize that when we first started something, we weren’t good at it. And over time, we got used to it.

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A great example is the work that you’re doing today. Think back to your first day at work. What was it like? Did you show up being able to move through a routine and have a solid workflow for the entire day? Or did you have to experiment and figure out what you were good at and what you needed some guidance with?

When you take up a new skill, make sure to reflect on your progress too. Keep a record of your changes.

5. Research Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is the study of our brain and how it adapts to the environments, actions and experiences we go through life.[2] What this research uncovered was the fact that how we thought of brains before was all wrong.

For a long time, we though our brain was a “non-renewable” organ. We never thought our brain could form other neurons on its own, let alone be able to grow and be shaped however we like.

What decades of research have uncovered is that, regardless of our age, we can grow and learn new things. After all, our brain contains many circuits and pathways.

What this means in simple terms is that, these pathways allow our brain to push us through a sequence of steps. The more we go through those steps, the more our brain builds up that pathway. It eventually forms a circuit that allows us to perform that task with more skill and speed than before.

Being aware of neuroplasticity and how it can impact our lives is key to our growth.

6. Actively Look for Opportunities to Learn

Better yet, to look for learning opportunities that you think you don’t fit in for. This can be within your own industry or outside of it.

Whatever the case is, taking up something you are hesitant towards can build you up. The biggest reason for that is it teaches you to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It also teaches you about how your attitude matters.

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Again, someone with a fixed mindset would hesitate and give up when things get tough. Someone with a growth mindset will push forward in their own way.

By no means will learning a little about a subject or practicing a skill will make you a professional in that area. But it will bring you one step closer to being knowledgable and good in that area. That can be the confidence you need to do this more and apply it to your life.

7. Develop Grit

Grit is what defines your perseverance to meet the goals that you set. It’s the effort that you’ll put into your work and your willingness to overcome obstacles and keep moving.

Developing grit comes down to finding something that you are interested in or have a passion for and continue to improve it. Another way to see it is that through hard and necessary work, you can develop, improve, and succeed in that area over time.

To develop grit is to surround yourself with those who have grit as well. Find the people who stick to their goals and work closely with them. Being with those who show up every day will ensure you become like them in time.

Dr. Angela Duckworth’s book Grit is a good read to help you develop grit.

Final Thoughts

The list of growth mindset activities is abundant. Out of them all, there is no superior method to develop a growth mindset. The key is to find the methods that work best for you.

So adopt the attitude to experiment and see what you like. After all, trying these growth mindset activities will develop your mindset to begin with.

More to Train Your Brain

Featured photo credit: Eris Setiawan via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on July 29, 2020

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

Have you been thinking of how you can be a more strategic leader during these uncertain times? Has the pandemic thrown a wrench at all your carefully laid out plans and initiatives?

You’re not alone. The truth is, we all want some stability in our careers and teams during this disruptive pandemic.

However, this now requires a bit more effort than before and making the leap from merely surviving to thriving means buckling down to some serious strategic thinking and maintaining a determined mindset.

Is There a Way to Thrive Despite These Disruptions?

Essentially – yes, although you need to be willing to put in the work. Every leader wants to develop strategic thinking skills so that they can enhance overall team performance and boost their company’s success, but what exactly does it mean to be strategic in the context of the times we live in?

If you happen to be in a leadership position in your organization right now, you are most probably navigating precarious waters given the disruptions caused by the pandemic. There’s a lot more pressure than before because your actions and decisions will have a much greater impact these days not just on you, but also to the people who are part of your team.

Companies often bring me in to coach executives on strategic thinking and planning. And while pre-pandemic I would usually start by highlighting the advantages of strategic thinking, nowadays, I always begin these Zoom coaching sessions by driving home the point that this pandemic has now made strategic thinking not just an option but an absolute must.

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Assessing and making plans through the lens of a good strategy might require significant work at first. Nevertheless, you can take comfort in the fact that the rewards will far outweigh the effort, as you’ll soon see after following the 8 strategic steps I have outlined below.

8 Steps to Strategic Thinking

As events unfold during these strange times, you’re bound to feel wrong-footed every now and then. Being a leader during this pandemic means preparing for more change not just for you, but for your whole team as well.

As states and cities go through a cycle of lockdowns and reopening, employees will experience the full gamut of human emotions in dizzying speed, and you will often be called on to provide insight and stability to your team and workplace.

Strategic thinking is all about anticipation and preparation. Rather than expending your energy merely helping your company put out fires and survive, you can put the time to better use by charting out a solid plan that can protect and help you and your company thrive.

Take the following steps to build solid initiatives and roll out successful projects:

Step 1: Step Back, Then Set the Scope

One of the things that leaders get wrong during their first attempt at strategic thinking is expecting that it is just another item on a checklist. The truth is, you need to take a good, long look at the bigger picture before anything else. This means decisively prioritizing and stepping away from tasks that can be delegated to others. Free up your schedule so you can focus on this crucial task at hand.

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Then, proceed with setting the scope and the strategic goals of the project or initiative you plan to build or execute. Ask yourself the bigger question of why you need to embark on a particular project and when would be the right time to do so.

You need to set a timeline as well, anywhere from 6 months to 5 years. Keep in mind that your projections will deteriorate the further out you go as you make longer-term plans.

For this reason, add extra resources, flexibility, and resilience if you have a longer timeline. You should also be making the goals less specific if you’re charting it out for the longer term.

Step 2: Make a List of Experts

Make and keep a list of credible people who can contribute solid insight and feedback to your initiative. This could range from key stakeholders to industry experts, mentors, and even colleagues who previously planned and rolled out similar projects.

Reach out to the people on this list regularly while you work through the steps to bring diverse insight into your planning process. This way, you will be able to approach any problem from every angle.

Bringing key stakeholders into this initial process will also display your willingness to listen and empathize with their issues. In return, this will build trust and potentially pave the way for smoother buy-in down the line.

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Step 3: Anticipate the Future

After identifying your goals and gathering feedback, it’s time to consider what the future would look like if everything goes as you intuitively anticipate. Then, lay out the kind and amount of resources (money, time, social capital) that might be needed to keep this anticipated future running.

Step 4: Brainstorm on Potential Internal and External Problems

Next, think of how the future would look if you encountered unexpected problems internal and external to the business activity that seriously jeopardize your expected vision of the future. Write out what kind of potential problems you might encounter, including low-probability ones.

Assess the likelihood that you will run into each problem. To gauge, multiply the likelihood by the number of resources needed to address the problem. Try to convert the resources into money if possible so that you can have a single unit of measurement.

Then, think of what steps you can take to address these internal and external problems before they even happen. Write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Lastly, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different possible problems and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

Step 5: Identify Potential Opportunities, Internal and External

Imagine how your expected plan would look if unexpected opportunities came up. Most of these will be external but consider internal ones as well. Then, gauge the likelihood of each scenario and the number of resources you would need to take advantage of each opportunity. Convert the resources into money if possible.

Then, think of what steps you can take in advance to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Finally, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different unexpected opportunities and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

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Step 6: Check for Cognitive Biases

Check for potential cognitive biases that are relevant to you personally or to the organization as a whole, and adjust the resources and plans to address such errors.[1] Make sure to at least check for loss aversion, status quo bias, confirmation bias, attentional bias, overconfidence, optimism bias, pessimism bias, and halo and horns effects.

Step 7: Account for Unknown Unknowns (Black Swans)

To have a more effective strategy, account for black swans as well. These are unknown unknowns -unpredictable events that have potentially severe consequences.

To account for these black swans, add 40 percent to the resources you anticipate. Also, consider ways to make your plans more flexible and secure than you intuitively feel is needed.

Step 8: Communicate and Take the Next Steps

Communicate the plan to your stakeholders, and give them a heads up about the additional resources needed. Then, take the next steps to address the unanticipated problems and take advantage of the opportunities you identified by improving your plans, as well as allocating and reserving resources.

Finally, take note that there will be cases when you’ll need to go back and forth these steps to make improvements, (a fix here, an improvement there) so be comfortable with revisiting your strategy and reaching out to your list of experts.

Conclusion

A great way to deal with feelings of uncertainty during this pandemic is to anticipate obstacles with a good plan – and a sure road to that is practicing strategic thinking.

In the coming months and years, you’ll need to continue navigating uncharted territory so that you can lead your team to safe waters. Regularly doing these 8 steps to strategic thinking will ensure that you can prepare for and adapt  to the coming changes with increasing clarity, perspective, and efficiency.[2]

More on Thinking Smarter

Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

Reference

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