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Words Matter: How to Develop a Growth Mindset

Are you stuck in a state of negativity? In the first of this three-part series, we'll discuss how you can create a growth mindset.

When you think or talk about who you are, do you say things like: I’m a procrastinator, I’m a goal-getter, I’m a morning person or a night owl, I’m a workaholic, or any number of others? When you say these things about yourself, do you stop to distinguish between those that define who you are and those that describe what you do? Or recognize that it matters?

Identity and habits are not the same, but they are interconnected. It’s essential to understand the difference. As your company grows, you’ll need to change and grow with it. The business you want needs you to be a particular person to succeed. Is that something you’ve even thought about?

We’re going to explore this often-overlooked concept. We’re often so focused on doing the work of our business that envisioning who we need to become to create our dream business doesn’t occur to us. In reality, it’s an absolute necessity.

Take a moment to think about who you were before you started your business. How have you changed? Were you scared? Did you put off getting started longer than you should have? Exploring the answers to these questions will help you make the changes necessary for you to grow into a person who can run the business of your vision.

Here’s what this article (presented in three parts) will address:

  • Mindset (Part I)
  • Vision (Part II)
  • The future you (Part II)
  • Identity and habit (Part III)
  • Changes (Part III)

In the end, this discussion is all about encouraging you to turn inside, get introspective and do the work needed to achieve the outcomes you desire.

Running a business is time- and energy-intensive. But have you noticed that the more time you spend working on your mindset and addressing it, the more efficient and effective you become in running your business? If not, now is the time to make this connection.

Refine your growth mindset

What is a mindset? It’s an established set of attitudes that you hold. In other words, it’s the way you think and feel about something. And the way you think and feel says a lot about what you see and do, and ultimately what you get from your efforts.

There are many different mindsets, but we’re going to focus on two: fixed and growth. A fixed mindset is when you think your basic qualities are unchangeable, and you don’t see a need to improve them. Take, for example, your intelligence. If you think you’re inherently intelligent, you might stop doing anything to continue to learn. Likewise, if you struggle with self-doubts about your intelligence, trying to learn could feel hopeless.

On the other hand, a growth mindset says that everyone can develop abilities through effort and persistence.

For the most part, I would hazard to guess that you have a growth mindset. Why ‘for the most part’? Because as much as entrepreneurs are flexible and willing to make changes, develop and grow, we still run up against that part of our brain with a negativity bias. Scientists say that negativity bias is natural, and unless you take proactive measures to counter it, you’ll more often than not be looking at the what-could-go-wrong side of things.

As an entrepreneur, it’s important to pay careful attention to how and what you are thinking. This requires self-awareness on your part. Have you ever stopped to think how deeply ingrained your negativity bias is? Have you been intentionally working to replace it with a positivity bias? Or do you see your negativity bias as an immutable force and just part of who you are?

This article will continue in Part II to discuss your business vision and “the future you.” Stay tuned!

Whitnie Wiley, author of the article on creating a growth mindset

About the author

Whitnie Wiley is a leader in organizational, leadership and employee development.

After spending years in companies with crummy cultures and lousy leadership, Wiley has dedicated herself to helping organizations and individuals adopt and implement strategies that create workplaces and cultures people love to work in.

As an in-demand coach, speaker, and trainer, Wiley shares wisdom from her own life experiences, as well as those of her clients, with grace, humility and humor to drive change in today’s business world.

Her clients include aspiring, emerging and new executives aiming to be the kinds of leaders even they’d want to work for and organizations seeking to hire, retain, develop and promote the best talent.