• Writer for DDI on Medium

What Growth Mindset Means And How To Start Nurturing It

Have you ever seen ‘Chicago Hope’, ‘ER’ or ‘Grey's Anatomy’? Residence would be strategically dumped into these situations which require them to think on their toes. Now, I’m cognizant these show sacrifice realism to engage their audience, and garner ratings. But within the context of the shows, I believe those situations (however exaggerated) were designed to extract and develop the depth of the interns value as doctors in the long run.

People want to know who they’re standing next to

If that’s a bit too abstract for you to believe, a friend of mine recently shared an experience she had together with her classmates doing a simulation on a fictitious company for their logistics dissertation. Two of her biggest lessons making decisions within the 15 minute time frame given them to deal with real world problems the company was facing were –

  • Uncomfortable situations help you quickly learn the strengths and weaknesses of those around you.

  • It challenges what you know about yourself by uncovering other things you wouldn’t have otherwise learned, only being in your comfort zone. So, it essentially makes you stronger.

Which brings me to something I’ve learned about what it means to have a growth mindset.

But first, let me set the tone for this conversation so you're not confused by certain words or phrases I’ll be using.

  1. The word ‘mindset’ means An established set of attitudes held by someone.

  2. The word ‘attitude’ is defined as A settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person's behavior.

  3. When I use the expression ‘trying new things’ or ‘ugly, messy, scary situations’, I’m specifically respectively referring to:

  • Logical, value-building things in a business-related sense, and

  • Non-dramatic situations.

I’ve personally experienced growth in other areas of my life through ugly, messy or scary situations, which, until now, I didn't realise was the beginning of nurturing my ability to approach trying new things with less fear. I still coach myself through it from time to time, but it’s based on those experiences I associate the concept of a growth mindset with actively seeking out ugly, messy, scary situations to be in because it’s in those spaces you learn things you wouldn’t otherwise discover being in your comfort zone. Most people online believe a growth mindset is having “the most basic abilities being developed through dedication and hard work.” No argument there, but I believe growth stops being growth when you’re no longer challenged.

Mediocrity to me is excellence misplaced. In hindsight, if I were content just having a free WIX website, I wouldn’t have to push myself to create better articles since no one would be able to see, much less read them, and the opportunity to do a presentation on visual branding for Regus wouldn’t have even been possible. So, my point is even without giving it much thought, we all automatically aspire towards growth in some shape or form despite how scary the first step might be because it’s the natural process of life, whether it’s wanting to lose 50 lbs, or wanting to improve your business. And we look for the signs along the way that suggest we’re getting somewhere. And this tells me that technically, we all have the ability to overcome our fears through the renewing of our thoughts, which we experience, the more we embrace uncomfortable situations. What's not so simple though is believing we’re worth the investment for new thoughts to emerge. And understandably so, since some of us have gone through terrible things (at the hand of others) that mirror how we think and act today.

There are no quick fixes for a lifetime of bad wiring. You just have to consciously work on what you choose to believe about yourself one day at a time, until it shows up effortlessly in your actions. That was my experience living on my own for the very first time. Before I knew it, I made it to a year without any problems, and I learned that despite being told “I couldn’t stand on my own”, I could because I bet on myself to make learning that piece of information, possible! I wasn’t at the mercy of someone else's thoughts about me anymore. But I didn’t stop there, I used that confidence over and over in different ways down through the years whether it was applying for my first loan, or getting my first credit card, before taking it with me to my Regus presentation.

But it was only recently, after that journey, I was able to look back and connect all the familiar dots, and define what that process was for me.

My growth mindset process is made up of …

  1. A logical need

  2. A clear benefit

  3. The means to acquire it, and

  4. Reflecting on the meaning of the experience, regardless of the outcome.

Now that you know how I approach situations that make me easily tell myself "I can't do that!", maybe through my example you can overcome the fears associated with telling potential clients to go through your website if they have to begin working with you, or even learning learning how to market what you do.

I am the Founder and Visual Brand Strategist at The BrandTUB In my last job, I won 2 literary awards for my contribution towards raising the design capability of the branch I was stationed. It was indicated by specific clients that my designs improved the over all performance of their brand (made it stand out more) in their market.

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