Last month in Build a Winning Mind - Pt. 1 (web link below) we looked at the different mindsets of:
- People who avoid challenges or give up when they encounter obstacles or difficulties (what I call a "limited" mindset) and
- People - with no more talent or skills - who embrace challenges, see failure as a learning opportunity, and persevere, grow, and excel. (I call this a "winning" mindset.)
We also looked at the research and case studies on how the two different mindsets impact:
- Front line worker performance and
- Supervisors' and trainers' evaluation and coaching skills.
This month we'll see: How to determine which mindset you, a recruit, an officer, a trainer or a supervisor has and
What's your mindset?
In her seminal book - Mindset:The New Psychology of Success (web link below), Carol Dweck directs people to ask whether they agree or disagree with the following statements:
- Your intelligence is something pretty basic that you cannot change much.
- No matter how much intelligence you have now, you can always change it significantly.
- You can learn new things, but you cannot really change how intelligent you are.
- You are a certain kind of person, and there's not much that can be done to really change that.
- No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially.
- You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are can't really be changed.
If you agreed with 1, 3, 4 and 6, you likely have a limited mindset. Agreement with 2 and 5 reflects a winning mindset.
- Are you always trying to prove yourself to others?
- Are you extra sensitive about being wrong or making mistakes?
- Do you prefer to stick to what you know and can do well rather than risk new endeavors you may fail at or not do well?
- Is your sense of self-worth tied to how others view you?
- Do you welcome feedback and evaluations?
- Does the success of others inspire you to reach higher and work harder?
- Does the success of other make you envious or down on yourself?
- Which would you choose - loads of success and validation or lots of challenges?
- When do you feel smart - when you're flawless or when you're learning?
A yes to 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7, indicates a limited mindset, while a no answer reflects a winning mindset. The opposite is the case with 5 and 6. For questions 8 and 9, choosing lots of challenges and feeling smart when you're learning indicates a winning mindset.
Build a winning mindset.
People can change their mindset. Just becoming aware of their mindset can have an impact on how officers subsequently approach challenging tasks and respond to failures. It can also impact how trainers and supervisors evaluate and coach recruits and officers. Insight can be empowering.
In an interview with Carol Dweck, she reports on a winning mindset training that begins with a scientific article and video about how the brain changes with learning. Scientists can now show how our brains grow and get stronger when we learn.
In addition to a web link to Dweck's interview, I've provided web links to the following for building-a-winning-mindset training:
- The excellent, accessible, scientific article You Can Grow Your Intelligence
- The Power Point presentation Mindsets - Developing Talent Through a Growth Mindset
A critical step toward building a winning mind is for people to understand how striving and learning can actually make the brain better and stronger for future endeavors. The next step would have training participants do four things:
- Think of at least 3 reasons why it's important to recognize that people can develop their abilities.
- Think of an area in which you once had little ability but now perform well. Explain how you were able to make the change.
- Write an email to a struggling recruit or officer about how abilities can be developed, with examples of how you yourself have dealt with career challenges.
- Remember times you've seen someone learn to do something you never thought the person could do. Reflect on how this happened and what it means.
Find famous failures.
I also recommend providing recruits and officers with examples of famous failures who became successes. Here are some with web links below to more:
- Told by a music teacher "as a composer he is hopeless." - Beethoven
- Fired from a newspaper because he "lacked imagination and had no original ideas." - Walt Disney
- Turned down by a record company that said, "We don't like their sound and guitar music is on the way out." - The Beatles
- His parents thought he was mentally retarded. He wasn't able to speak until he was almost 4 years old and his teachers said he would "never amount to anything." - Albert Einstein
- Cut from his high school basketball team, he went home, locked himself in his room, and cried. His mother made him keep trying. - Michael Jordan
- Dropped out of high school his sophomore year, he was persuaded to come back and was placed in a learning disabled class. He lasted a month and dropped out of school forever. - Steven Spielberg
The moral of these stories? You don't fail unless you quit trying.
Edwin Moses won gold medals in the 400-meter hurdles at two Olympics. Between 1977 and 1987, he won 107 consecutive finals (122 consecutive races) and set the world record in his event four times. It wasn't always so. Moses said,
I lost a lot in high school and college. Maybe as much as I won. I just didn't think of it in terms of losing. I was preparing.
Reach out and touch someone's mindset.
Be on the watch for recruits and officers stuck in the limited mindset - passing up a chance for learning, feeling labeled a failure, getting discouraged when something requires a lot of effort.
Then lead them to the winning mindset. Take them through a winning mindset training session or discussion. Share famous failures with them. Finally,
Pick your praise.
When a recruit or officer does well or excels, focus your recognition on what she did to achieve the result. For example,
You really studied hard (practiced, trained, prepared) for that test (promotion interview, incident, scenario) and it paid off.
Recognize persistence and effort. Avoid comments such as "You're a natural," or "You finished that so easily!" Such praise suggests if the recruit or officer fails they are slow or stupid, which might make them avoid the risk of tough challenges.
When tasks start to come more easily, remind the recruit or officer of when it used to seem daunting. When a recruit of officer begins to become bored with a task, ask her how she might make it more challenging.
The key is to praise effort, not performance.
And the key is to believe that anyone can win if they never give up and they put forth their best effort - and then double the effort again and again, as life provides the opportunities to do so. The only thing we have to lose is our limitations.