The term “mindset” is being widely promoted as an essential factor in getting ahead in life!
Yet the word itself implies a somewhat static approach which would seem to contradict our belief that flexible thinking is so important.
Let’s explore how they sit together to ensure we are not sending the message that our minds should be “set” in any way!
The concept of mindset refers to a person’s established attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that shape their perception of themselves, others, and the world around them. It is a psychological framework that influences how individuals approach various situations, challenges, and opportunities in life. Mindsets can be both conscious and unconscious and play a crucial role in determining people’s behaviour, reactions, and decision-making processes.
There are two main types of mindsets that have been explored and discussed and these are a fixed versus a growth mindset.
Someone with a fixed mindset believes that their abilities, intelligence and talents are innate and unable to be changed. Their perceived limitations often make them avoid any risks or challenges that might explore these limitations and they believe that failure is more proof of their inherent shortcoming. This can often prevent them from reaching their potential by learning the lessons that failure inevitably brings.
On the other hand, a person with a growth mindset holds the belief that they can develop their abilities and intelligence through effort, learning and perseverance. They approach failure as a way of learning and getting better instead of evidence of their worth! A growth mindset encourages people to take risks and work towards their goals.
It is possible to cultivate a growth mindset by working on reframing our limiting beliefs. If we can learn to do this, our resilience will improve, our adaptability to changing circumstances and our willingness to take up new opportunities and challenges.
So now what about the notion of flexibility in thinking.. how does this fit with mindset as described above?
The literature says that flexibility of thinking, involves being open-minded, receptive to alternative perspectives, and willing to adjust one’s viewpoints when necessary particularly when things around us change. Flexible thinkers can consider multiple possibilities and explore different ways of approaching problems or situations. They are also much more likely to change deep-seated beliefs that may not be relevant anymore.
As coaches our job is to listen to clients’ stories and see them from their viewpoint which can sometimes mean stepping outside of our former way of looking at things, putting aside judgement and keeping our minds open to change. If we can do this, we can perhaps also help our clients see different perspectives, and adopt a growth mindset at the same time!
Fiona Cosgrove, Managing Director of Wellness Coaching Australia