xrematon

January 17, 2016

Mindsets and coaching

Filed under: Business,Coaching,Marketing — by xrematon @ 5:47 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Growth

Have you seen the light? Are you confident you can reach your goals by simply rethinking how approach setbacks?

If you have come across the growth mindset concept, first investigated and written about in the works of Carol Dweck, then the above statements will make sense.

Dweck is an American psychology professor who developed theories about intelligence and motivation encapsulated in the idea of fixed and growth mindsets. Individuals with the former tend to have a fixed view of their ability and are often less able to cope with failure, whilst those with growth mindsets do not think performance is fixed and believe that learning can come from keeping trying despite not doing well all the time. Dweck went on to show in study after study and through analysis of case studies across different aspects of life, such as sport, relationships and business, that those with growth mindsets will make better progress and achieve more.

As with any concept that is seductively simple and makes sense intuitively, it has become popular and adopted far and wide. Personally, I have found it very interesting, partly as I have a sneaking suspicion that I tend to have a rather fixed mindset about which I now feel guilty; and also because the concept seems worthy of consideration to add my coaching toolkit.

At some levels, the idea of cultivating a growth mindset does seem highly laudable and desirable and it is possible to find it sprinkled in the text of many coaches. For me, its greatest power lies in giving individuals a way to reframe problems or challenges. A setback becomes a step up once you understand it gives one the chance to learn. And it also helps to reinforce the importance of the idea of making progress, which is often at the heart of many coaching relationships – you are working with a client to help them achieve their goals.

However, it’s worth taking a step back ourselves. I do think there is the potential for a collision between mindset thinking and coaching when it comes to honouring values. Let me move away from fancy sounding fluff to more concrete explanations. From my experience of having worked with highly talented, very able, but also deeply committed perservers, I know that it can be possible to stall at work not through the wrong mindset but a fundamental lack of passion for what the work is about. I often work with people in marketing who initially find the idea of being in the world of brands, advertising, social media etc appealing, but then get frustrated with a sense of its superficiality in the face of other life concerns, whether on a personal or global level.

I have no doubt these individuals could progress but it would bring them little satisfaction. This brings in another concept which does not really appear much in mindset writing – namely the idea of happiness – which is pretty big in positive psychology and as a field in its own right. To me, there is value in thinking first about how you want to define progress and make sure it is according to your own terms/will actually make you happy and that you have the ability to understand that satisfaction comes in diverse forms. That ability to reflect back on what you are experiencing pulls in another ‘hot area’ – mindfulness – which again is not part of mindset thinking.

As Dweck herself observes in a revisit of her work, a big challenge for the mindset concepts is the risk that they are used simplistically and too broadly. These ideas must be accompanied by thoughts on ‘how’ and ‘why’ to ensure the gains made are valid and sustainable. Engaging with mindset ideas itself must be done with non-fixed mindset!

 

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