Growth vs Fixed Thinking

Sometimes it is just so enlightening to be a fly on the wall! Yesterday I was in line for coffee behind three executives who were discussing the pool of applicants for a leadership position. While resumes and qualifications were certainly a factor, what they were looking for was not what you would expect!

Just looking at the resumes, they had identified who was applying for a secure comfortable job and who was willing to learn more and stretch their abilities. While they didn’t use these specific terms, what they were discussing boiled down to a “Growth” mindset versus a “Fixed” mindset. So what’s the difference?

A growth mindset is one that embraces challenges, picks new tasks, and welcomes change. In contrast, a fixed mindset masters one ability, picks familiar tasks, and avoids change.  What these executives had identified were “fixed” mindset applicants, those who had already mastered the full scope of the open position and were qualified for the job, but did not have the ability to grow with the position – versus “growth” mindset applicants, those who had some (or all) of the qualifications, but were willing to learn more, and were excited by the process of learning and growing.

Ultimately what these executives were looking for was someone who would grow with the company, and would encourage the team and the company to grow with them. They wanted to hire someone who would embrace new challenges and be willing to take on more responsibility down the line. They wanted to interview applicants who were searching out new opportunities rather than applicants who were playing it safe.

So which kind of mindset do you have?

  • Have you been at your company longer than 75% of your co-workers or peers?
  • Do you reject suggestions to take classes or learn new skills?
  • If given the choice between playing a game you know and learning a new one, do you pick the one you are familiar with?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you may have a fixed mindset. This kind of thinking is often associated with very smart people who are masters in one narrow skillset. They are uncomfortable trying things new because they don’t want to fail. They say things like, “I can’t do that,” before even considering the benefits of trying. It’s self-limiting thinking, and the only people they limit are themselves.

If you are ready to explore how you may be limiting yourself, coaching may be for you. Click here for more info.