Many of us are ready for 2020 to be a reflection in the rearview mirror. As we leave this year behind us, what will it take to shake off what has been one of the most difficult years in modern history?
Successful leaders embrace optimism and possibility thinking. Psychologists often refer to the need for individuals to cultivate positivity and a growth mindset to live a fulfilling life. The way we view situations, events and our circumstances shape how successfully we are able to navigate the challenges that life throws at us. A growth mindset is one that allows us to view talents and potential as things that can be learned and developed as opposed to a fixed mindset which says that these abilities are natural and innate. When we embrace a belief that we can grow and improve, we experience greater degrees of empowerment and commitment.
Embracing the tips below can ensure you step into the New Year with a fresh start.
- Say yes to what is difficult
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we can endure hard times. While this year has been a new level of challenging, it’s important that we face challenges head on rather than receding and hoping they disappear on their own. We can thrive under difficult circumstances, and a growth mindset helps us to realize that saying “yes” to the important things allows us to grow in new, unexpected ways.
- Perspective matters
The growth mindset is all about perspective and how we view and internalize the experiences that life throws at us. Viewing challenges as possibilities and failures as learning opportunities enables us to focus on how we might grow from the situation. We benefit from embracing the belief that no failure is permanent if we can learn from it. If we decide that the failure will define us, then it will. But if we focus on learning and getting better each time, then a “failure” becomes a learning experience.
- Language is important
Carol Dweck speaks about growth mindset and reminds us that how we use language is important. Using the word “yet” allows one to see that a possibility still exists, it just has not emerged yet. We often say things like, “I cannot figure out this problem.” Leaving the statement there gives a sense of failure and resignation. Adding the word “yet” and saying, “I cannot figure out this problem yet,” changes the lens and allows for a more optimistic outlook.
- Focus on different goals
A growth mindset allows us to define success by what we have achieved during the process as opposed to the result. This year required most organizations and individuals to reshape their goals early in the year. Strategic plans were revamped to reflect rapidly changing circumstances in the economy. Those organizations, leaders and teams with an optimistic perspective allowed themselves to grow from the process and were able to make changes without a negative impact to their mindset. It’s important to reward what you learn during the process equally, if not more so, than the outcome and results.
- Embrace your emotions, all of them
An optimistic, positive outlook does not mean you are happy all the time. It is important to work with your emotions as you build your growth mindset. People and situations that irritate us are just as important for our growth as those events that go exactly as planned. There is a term that refers to a “sandpaper person,” or an individual who rubs you the wrong way and grates on your every nerve. However, like sandpaper, these people can also help you create wonderful works of art. Without welcoming the bad, we never arrive at the good.
- Embrace your imperfections
Our ego often does not allow us to see, let alone embrace, our own imperfections in a way that supports our growth. The more we can take a critical eye to self-awareness, the more we can grow, learn and settle into new possibilities.
As we look to 2021, it is the perfect time to reflect on what 2020 has taught us. Our reflections and learnings illuminate what so many spiritual traditions have known for millennia; that discomfort and suffering are a sure path to growth and expansion.
This year brought a recognition that we can survive in new ways during what has at times felt un-survivable. Many have noticed that the environment of the past year filled with urgency and tension, has created a new path for resiliency, creativity and innovation to surface. With a strong growth mindset entering 2021, we can feel confident about whatever new challenges lie ahead.
Written by Dr. Laurie Cure.