These are testing times. And we choose that word – testing – carefully.
Because to test oneself is to accept a challenge head-on; to see it as an opportunity to learn, to adapt and to grow.
It’s part of the growth mindset we’re fostering at Ultimate Edge Communications, as we focus on wellbeing this September.
You see, with so much of modern life changing right now, building resilience and an ability to adapt is more important than ever. Those with a fixed, defeatist mindset – who don’t believe their abilities, intelligence and personality can change – more often than not see mistakes, challenges and setbacks as brick walls, as personal failures, and inevitably give up. They can become more risk-averse and less creative. And that’s not who we are at UEC.
That’s not to say we need to celebrate or disregard every mistake. Last Friday we touched on how it can be somewhat of a natural tendency to dwell on shortcomings – at least in the short term. But it’s what we learn from these mistakes – how we overcome these challenges and setbacks – that will ultimately foster growth and success.
In order to serve high-growth brands in a high-stress environment, we need to foster a growth mindset. Those with a growth mindset understand that intelligence and capabilities are not fixed concepts. They understand that anything that can be taught can be learned, and that trial and error is all part of the process. And this in turn creates a valuable sense of resilience and mental fortitude in tough times like these.
Those who actively engage in learning new skills are more able to develop self-confidence and problem-solving techniques, argues Beverly Jones, an executive career coach and author of “Think Like an Entrepreneur, Act Like A CEO.”
“Each time they hit a bump, they spend less time lamenting and quickly turn to determining what they must learn in order to climb out of the hole,” she said, highlighting the more positive and optimistic mindset that curiosity and learning can foster.
“In part, this is because each time you become aware of learning something new it feels like a victory. You maintain the positivity that is a key to resilience.”
Dorie Clark, Executive Education teacher at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and author of “Reinventing You”, agrees.
“It is a combination of being able to pick yourself up when there are setbacks,” she says, “but also it is about having the kind of cross-training necessary to be flexible in an uncertain world where we don’t know what is around the corner.”
In a 2020 that has featured countless surprises around the corner, it’s sage advice.
So, what are some things we can all do to foster a positive, curious, growth mindset?
According to Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, three simple principles we can look to lean on are:
- Focus on the process rather than the final product. Just because something doesn’t come easily, doesn’t mean it is not worth learning or cannot be grasped. It’s a sentiment echoed by Simon Sinek, author of “The Infinite Game” and “Start With Why”: “One of the things that makes us resilient,” he says, “is that when we see a challenge, and when we face a struggle, we engage with it rather than shut down”.
- Tailor your approach and try new things. We’ve all heard the cliché that the apparent definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. But, to be fair, it’s somewhat true. When something isn’t working and you feel yourself slipping into a frustrated, defeatist mindset, you need to come up with new strategies, learn new skills and accept new feedback to figure out the right approach.
- Be aware of what triggers you to shift from a growth mindset to a fixed one. Fixed mindsets can become habitual. Being able to recognise a shift towards, and consciously avoid falling into, a fixed mindset is key to overcoming it.
Other techniques we’re learning this month at UEC to build resilience and manage our emotions include:
- Getting plenty of sleep. Sleep routines are key to managing stress and anxiety. They foster a positive and productive mindset, which builds more resilience and emotional control in chaotic environments. Our nutritional learning and weekly Wednesday yoga sessions are helping us to develop healthier sleep patterns.
- Maintaining social connections. With a feature of 2020 being isolation and reduced physical interaction with friends and family, it’s imperative to try and maintain connections through other means. At UEC we are focusing on quality face-time and conversations in our Friday ‘tea for the soul’ sessions, check-ins with clients, and encouraging plenty of Skype video sessions whenever we’re not in the office.
- Stop ‘doom scrolling’ the news. Obviously it’s important to keep up to date with the news, but with so much negativity and conflicting opinions on air these days, experts recommend limiting COVID-19 news consumption to one or two daily checks of official scientific agencies such as the World Health Organisation (internationally) and Australian Government Department of Health (domestically).
- Find some purpose: “It’s helpful to acknowledge and accept your emotions during hard times,” according to the American Psychological Association, “but it’s also important to help you foster self-discovery by asking yourself, ‘What can I do about a problem in my life?’ If the problems seem too big to tackle, break them down into manageable pieces.” Self-discovery is a key principle of the yoga that we’re learning at UEC, including this morning’s session.
Of course, there is plenty more for us to learn in these unprecedented times. But we believe that by fostering growth mindsets – ones that are resilient, optimistic about the future and curious to always keep learning – we will be able to overcome any challenges that are thrown at us.