Mood Hoovers. Emotional Vampires. We’ve all met them. Whether it’s a colleague at work, your boss, that demanding client, friends, a family member or even a partner. You’ll recognise them by that sinking feeling when you’re with them or the way that you feel depleted after spending any length of time in their company. Maybe just thinking about them leaves you feeling low. They drain you. They sap your energy. You’ll feel like crap after they’ve offloaded their emotional junk on you. It takes time to re-balance and find your equilibrium again after they’ve gone. Negative encounters are part of life. But what if you find yourself surrounded by them?
Emotional intelligence? It’s a soft skill isn’t it? Think again. Research has consistently demonstrated that people with high levels of emotional intelligence outperform those with high IQs. It’s a key workplace differentiator when it comes to performance.
What’s going on?
Emotional intelligence (EI) contributes to your relationships with others, how you lead, how you’re perceived, to your overall performance. It’s your reputational capital. Self assessment is notoriously inaccurate, even more so if you lack EI. So how do you know if you have a deficit? Worry not, we’ve put together 5 telltale signs that you lack EI. Take a look at the clues below to identify patterns in your behaviour that you might want to develop or eradicate.
- You feel angry. If you find yourself wandering around feeling angry for much of the day but you’re not sure why this could be a sign that you’re unaware of your triggers. Try to identify what they are so that you can preempt them and devise strategies to overcome them rather than having them rule your behaviour.
- You feel stressed. This is something of a chicken and egg situation with the first telltale sign. We know from research that self regulation is the first thing to diminish when we’re stressed so feeling angry can be an unfortunate by product. When you ignore your emotions and stressful events in life, allowing them to fester, it damages your mind and your body. Unmanaged emotions may lead to anxiety, depression and isolation. A more emotionally intelligent response is to talk things through or find effective strategies for managing stress such as exercise or meditation.
- You don’t let go of grudges. If you find yourself clinging onto grudges, waging mini vendettas or trying to point score the following Chinese proverb is made for you. “If you are planning on revenge, dig two graves. One for your enemy and one for yourself.” Continuing to hold a grudge is down to your amygdala. Another form of stress response, it is your brain in full fight, flight or freeze mode with all of the associated physiological responses. The emotionally intelligent way to manage this is to deal with it, not to perpetuate it. Holding onto grudges will increase your blood pressure and the likelihood of heart disease. Learn to have difficult conversations and use that stress for something more positive.
- You feel others don’t ‘get you. This is down to communication. If you frequently find yourself misunderstood or wonder why people don’t seem to ‘get’ what you’re saying, it’s probably down to the way you communicate. Emotionally intelligent people recognise that different people require different communication styles, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. Modify your communication style depending upon who you’re talking to and be better understand.
- It’s everyone else fault. If you find yourself constantly blaming other people for how you feel you’ve abdicated from responsibility. How you feel is your business and only you can change that. To blame others will prevent you from moving forwards and developing. Accept responsibility for your own emotions, thoughts and feelings. That way when you recognise that you don’t like them you’re in a powerful position to make changes.
Don’t beat yourself up if you recognise yourself in the 5 telltale signs. You’re not alone. Emotional intelligence is a profile of competencies and we all possess varying levels of each competence. The good news is that EI can be developed. By implementing new strategies and building new habits you’ll create new neural networks, increase your neuroplasticity and your emotional intelligence.
If you’d like to know more about emotional intelligence, check out our other blogs on EI and how to build it. Or for information about our bitesize, half day or one day emotional intelligence courses or consultancy contact us at email@example.com we’d love to hear from you.
Are You Shooting For The Moon?
Maybe you’ve thought about your core values, your mission statement or your vision but what about your moonshot? Yes, your moonshot. Mission, values and vision can often sit on a shelf gathering dust with barely anyone other than the people who came up with them knowing what they are. A moonshot is different.
Originating from the Apollo and Soviet lunar programmes aiming to land humans on the moon, the term is now common business parlance. A moonshot is a long term business goal, an audacious ambition or innovative project. Google subsidiary, X, the company’s research lab refer to their most ambitious projects as moonshots. Led by Astro Teller, or “Captain of Moonshots” X works firmly in the future rather than the present. Think AI, Google Brain, the driverless car, Project Loon or Project Calico researching life extension. Like Google X the moonshot is firmly focused on the future, the art of possibility, of what could be rather than what is. A moonshot is something to aim for. It inspires your organisation at every level.
Moonshots are bold. They look beyond strategy towards the future. They are extraordinary projects or proposals that fulfil the following criteria;
- It addresses a problem, a big one
- It proposes a radical solution
- It utilises innovative thinking & technology
Teller takes the moonshot one step further by;
- Addressing the hardest part of the project first. This is a kind of natural selection, culling unsuitable projects in this phase. Teller describes this as identifying the Achilles heel early on rather than wasting time and money only to discover it later.
- Rewarding failure. We know from the work of Carol Dweck that learning by failure is the way to go. When a project is killed off in the culling phase, staff are rewarded. Failure is celebrated rather than brushed under the carpet.
Moonshots are game changers. They design the future rather than simply following the herd. So if you’re a business, start up or tech company looking to innovate, forget business as usual and follow our 6 step plan.
- Identify the problem – think huge ideas rather than bitesized.
- Along with your big idea there needs to be the potential to overcome the problem (this part is mission impossible rather than mission tricky)
- Form a team of committed, motivated, collaborative experts.
- Work out what the most difficult aspect of the project is and set to work.
- Foster a growth mindset. Learn from and celebrate failure.
- Get buy in to the project at every level of your business.
- Get to work and reach for the stars.
Want to find out more about innovation, moonshots, growth mindset or anything else involved in reaching for the stars? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org we’d love to hear from you. Check out our creativity and innovation training on our courses page to find out more.
What’s so hot about a growth mindset culture?
A host of business trailblazers such as Microsoft, Spotify, Quest and Google are actively developing a growth mindset culture within their organisations. What makes a growth mindset such an important component of a successful business?
1. People who work in a growth mindset business create and innovate more readily than those in fixed mindset organisations
It may seem strange to think organisational mindset can dictate to creativity and innovation, creativity is an ability we can all develop right? But scratch beneath the surface of a fixed mindset organisation and you’ll discover a huge fear of failure threading through the entire hierarchy of the organisation. A fixed mindset has the same attributes for organisations as it does for individuals, the belief that you’re either good at a task or you’re not, talented or not, capable or not. Because there’s no such thing as regarding failures as part of the learning curve on the road to success (think James Dyson’s 5000+ prototypes of his revolutionary vacuum cleaner before he achieved success) people in fixed mindset organisations become fearful to experiment and try new ideas for fear of failure. This stifles creativity and innovation and has an obviously negative impact on the progress that a company is able to achieve.
2. People are more likely to trust each other in a growth mindset business
Research shows us that people who work in a growth mindset organisation are more likely to trust their colleagues. There are number of possible explanations for this, the first may be related to the fact that in a fixed mindset organisation employees are guarded about their expertise and knowledge, making them reluctant to share their smarts with others for fear of diluting their reputation as the person with superior, specialist ability. Secondly, current research also reveals that those working in a fixed mindset organisation are more likely to cut corners and keep secrets in their quest to promote their virtuosity in a company where talent rather than effort is paramount. Not a great recipe for trust.
3. A growth mindset business encourages and capitalises on failure
Leaders in truly growth mindset businesses recognise that their people’s approach to failure is the key to success. The growth mindset business encourages new ideas and growth by framing failure as the route to mastery. Growth mindset leaders ask crucial questions such as what can we learn from this situation? How can this help us with future projects? What do we need to change, tweak or strengthen here? By contrast, when failures occur in a fixed mindset organisation blame is attributed, individuals are measured and found wanting and a failure to learn from mistakes is a precious but missed opportunity.
Here at Positive Change Guru we love to talk about all things growth mindset. Check out our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke growth mindset training for your organisation.
Getting to grips with growth mindset theory
It’s great to read about a potentially life changing theory like growth mindset and think to yourself, “Yep! Pretty sure I’ve got that covered. I’m open minded, flexible about things and have a positive outlook, sounds like I have a growth mindset approach to life.” But have you assessed your mindset correctly or is your understanding of the fixed and growth mindset more limited?
Although growth mindset is a buzzword in many organisations, Carol Dweck, the Stanford professor behind the growth mindset idea and author of the book which popularised her research, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success says that sometimes others distort her theory and as a consequence fail to reap their benefits.
How do you know if you have a false growth mindset?
Dweck argues that when most employees in a company embrace a growth mindset, they tend to achieve more, with employees feeling more empowered and committed. However, when misconceptions about growth mindset theory abound this results in a ‘false growth mindset.’ Dweck has found that there are three common misconceptions that contribute to a false growth mindset.
Three common growth mindset misconceptions
1. I already have it and I always have.
This occurs when people confuse a growth mindset with an open minded, flexible approach and positive outlook. When people take this approach they are overlooking the fact that everyone has a mix of fixed and growth mindsets which constantly evolves with experience. There is no such thing as a pure, 100% growth mindset. If we’re unable to understand this then we’ll inevitably be stuck in a false growth mindset, unable to benefit from adopting a genuine growth mindset approach.
2. A growth mindset is just a matter of praising and rewarding effort
Dweck argues that this is simply not true. Wherever you apply a growth mindset approach, outcomes undoubtedly matter. If effort is unproductive, we need to examine how we can more deeply engage in the process. Dweck recommends paying equal attention to learning and progress, as well as rewarding effort which people often more readily associate with encouraging a growth mindset. Dweck suggests emphasising processes such as seeking help from others, trying new strategies and capitalising on setbacks to move forwards.
3. Just talking the growth mindset talk will ensure great results
Dweck maintains that although it’s great when organisations and individuals talk about a growth mindset, lip service alone won’t make a growth mindset real and attainable. Instead, Dweck encourages organisations to take a deep dive approach and embody a growth mindset by rewarding employees for important and useful lessons learned, even when a project doesn’t reach the desired outcome. Organisations can also model a growth mindset by encouraging and facilitating collaboration across the organisation, rather than having people and teams compete against each other. Efforts should be concrete in word, deed and policies.
Beware of your own fixed-mindset triggers
Dweck argues that even when we work hard to avoid these false growth mindset traps we can still find it less than easy to develop a growth mindset because we all possess our own fixed mindset triggers. A fixed mindset trigger might be evident when we face criticism, are unfavourably compared with others or face a challenge, if we fall into defensiveness or insecurity and growth is inhibited. Inevitably, some work environments can be full of these fixed mindset triggers.
Tips for managing your fixed-mindset triggers
- Focus on being aware of when your fixed-mindset ‘persona’ shows up
- Identify what it takes to make you feel threatened and defensive.
- Develop a growth mindset approach by spotting your triggers, identifying the fixed-mindset persona for what it is and learning to talk back to the persona with a growth mindset voice, persuading it to work towards the new growth mindset effectively.
We love to talk about all things growth mindset at Positive Change Guru. Check out our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke growth mindset training for your organisation.
A huge thank you to Gill Thackray for her guest blog that shares five simple but effective tools for boosting confidence.
Confidence – the elusive holy grail?
Confidence – the elusive ‘holy grail’. We all know we should build our confidence but the sticking point is knowing exactly how to do that. We know it when we see it but how do we actually create it?
Confidence encompasses everything from our behaviour and our body language to how we communicate. We all know someone who has it in bucket loads, they effortlessly exude it, but take a closer look and you’ll see that their seemingly ‘effortless’ confidence is something that you can study, learn, practice and perfect. These five simple but effective tools will have you well on your way to feeling, looking and sounding confident regardless of the situation in which you find yourself.
5 steps to boost confidence
1. Develop self-efficacy
This is the belief that you will succeed and that you can achieve your goals. To develop this, work out exactly what you want to achieve and then:
create mastery experiences where you’re setting and achieving goals, not necessarily the first time you try, remember it’s a learning experience
find vicarious experiences – observe others’ achievements and work out (or ask them) how they got there. This will shorten your learning curve. If they can do it, you can too
create a support network of people to be your own personal cheerleaders and encourage you
Think about how you manage your reactions to stress, view setbacks and stress in a positive light, it’s all learning rather than ‘throwing in the towel’.
2. Adopt a growth mindset
Recognise that life is a learning curve and that any changes you want to make to your confidence levels will require hard work and effort. When you try but ‘fail’, treat each setback as information that you can use the next time round to help refine your skills.
3. Play to your strengths
Work out what you are good at and emphasise these skills. Try a ‘strengths assessment’ to find out where your true strengths lie and then use them to your advantage.
4. Monitor your self-talk
Listen to that small (or big) voice that narrates every time you try something new. If it’s a negative, ask yourself, “where’s the evidence for that?” or “is that 100% true?” Rewire your brain by making a conscious effort to find evidence that suggests you canrather than you can’t.
5. Set yourself SMART goals
It sounds obvious but it’s hard to hit a target that you can’t see. Identify the changes you want to make and then start small and build up to bigger challenges. As you work your way up to larger goals your competence and your confidence will increase along the way.
to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke confidence building training for your organisation.
Transformation and Positive Psychology
Would you like to increase your wellbeing? Are you curious to know the practical steps you can take towards positive transformation? Perhaps you’d like to promote a thriving and productive culture in your workplace? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then positive psychology, the scientific study of positive human development, is for you.
Make a difference by changing your mindset
Mindset is one simple yet groundbreaking idea from the field of positive psychology. Psychologist and world renowned mindset expert, Carol Dweck, has spent decades researching achievement and success. Mindset research reveals:
How teaching a simple idea about the brain can drastically increase performance and productivity.
Why intelligence and talent don’t accurately predict success.
How intelligence and talent may even become obstacles to success.
How we can unlock the limitless potential in ourselves and others by developing a growth mindset.
Do you have a fixed or growth mindset?
Dweck’s childhood experience of the classroom sparked a lifetime fascination with intelligence and achievement. She remembers of her teacher,
“She let it be known that IQ for her was the ultimate measure of your intelligence and your character…”
Dweck’s research reveals that we all possess either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. It’s possible to have a growth mindset in some areas of life and a fixed mindset in others. Mindset has a profound effect on motivation to learn.
Those with a fixed mindset believe:
intelligence, abilities and talents are fixed and cannot be changed
success is created by innate talent
success = superiority
effort makes no difference to ability
failure is all defining and results in a fear of being judged
people with a fixed mindset have less ability to bounce back from setbacks because they believe failure defines them.
Those with a growth mindset believe:
intelligence, talent and ability are just the starting point, with effort they can be developed
we are capable of improving all areas of our lives by developing our strengths
failure hurts but isn’t defining
the effort and process of learning are enjoyable
you can always learn from setbacks and use them to develop
successes are to be celebrated
A look at the research
In her research with junior high school maths students over a two year period, Dweck noticed a downward trend in performance for students with a fixed mindset and an increase in results for those with a growth mindset.
An eight week intervention was implemented for one group of students who were taught how they could learn to improve results by understanding and adopting a growth mindset. They were told the more they used their brain the greater it’s capacity to learn would become. A control group was taught study skills but not Dweck’s mindset theory about strengthening the brain.
After only two months the students who learned about mindset showed a greater improvement in grades and study habits than students in the control group.
The power of belief
Teaching the students about mindset improved motivation and developed their power of self-belief. The growth mindset group grasped that they could have an impact on their mind. By applying effort to learning, the group understood that they were firing and wiring neurons together in the brain, developing new neural pathways. They were energised by the idea that their efforts could make a physical difference to their brains and a positive difference to their abilities.
Dweck asked the teachers to pick students who had shown positive change. Although the teachers were unaware that there had been two groups, all the children they picked were from the growth mindset group.
Four steps to develop a growth mindset
Follow these four steps to develop a growth mindset:
Step 1: Learn to hear your fixed mindset inner dialogue, typical fixed mindset comments that you might say to yourself are, “Maybe you don’t have the talent?” or “You’ll fail, so why bother?”
Step 2: Recognise that you have a choice in how you respond to such criticism, challenges or setbacks. The choice is yours, you can maintain a fixed mindset or adopt a growth mindset.
Step 3: Talk back to your fixed mindset inner dialogue with a growth mindset voice. A typical growth mindset response to a criticism might be, “Most successful people had failures on their way” or “If I don’t try I automatically fail.”
Step 4: Adopt a growth mindset approach by committing to:
- take on the challenge wholeheartedly
- learn from your setbacks and try again
- hear the criticism and choose a growth mindset response, your mindset is up to you
How does praise impact mindset? Catch Carol Dweck discussing mindset and praise here:
A growth mindset is the belief that abilities and skills can be developed, that a conscious effort to strengthen and improve our abilities will increase them. In contrast, a fixed mindset is the belief that our abilities are fixed and regardless of effort, can’t be changed.
It’s possible to have a growth mindset towards some aspects of life and a fixed mindset in others. If you recognise a fixed mindset in your life and would like to transform it to one of growth, practice cultivating these seven habits for a growth mindset:
1) Don’t be deterred by negativity.
When you make a commitment to change old habits, guard against being sidetracked or demotivated by negative comments. Constructive criticism can be helpful but it’s just as important to develop and listen to your own inner, growth mindset, voice. Filter the feedback you receive from yourself and others and decide whether it comes from a place of growth or a fixed mindset. Consider how you would encourage a friend or colleague if they were embarking on a new learning experience and coach yourself in the same way.
2) Envison a positive outcome.
Psychologist Walter Mischel, creator of the most famous willpower study, the marshmallow test, established that the ability to focus on the positive feelings you will experience when you have reached your goal, is a crucial factor for success. Develop a clear and vivid picture of what your success will look like. Envision how good you will feel when you have mastered your new skill or subject and maintain a clear focus on your desired outcome.
3) Consider the impact of your words.
Ask yourself what impact your words have on those around you. Do you adopt a growth mindset in your relationships and encourage others to learn, develop and grow? If not, take some time to think of ways in which you can improve your interactions with others at work and home to encourage a growth mindset culture.
4. Take on new challenges wholeheartedly.
Don’t avoid tasks that you have felt unable to master in the past. Challenging tasks allow you to develop new skills and abilities. Neurologist, Dr. Harry Chugani, describes the synaptic connections which occur in the brain during the learning process as being similar to roads. Chugani explains, “Roads with the most traffic get widened. The ones that are rarely used fall into disrepair.” New or difficult tasks are an opportunity to develop new skills and build new synaptic connections, with practice both will strengthen and improve your performance.
5. Celebrate your successes.
Your belief in your abilities has a direct impact on your motivation to try new things, persevere and fulfil your potential. Make time to acknowledge and celebrate your successes. Recognise the hard work that has enabled you to learn a new skill or excel in an existing area of interest. When you embark on a new learning curve, remember previous achievements that involved the learning process and remind yourself that having a growth mindset helped you to achieve success.
6. Don’t view failure as all defining.
Avoid the fixed mindset trap by learning to view failure as a temporary setback rather than regarding it as being all defining. People with a growth mindset still experience failure and disappointment but don’t allow setbacks to deter them from their goals. When things don’t go as planned take a growth mindset approach and focus on what you can do differently next time to improve performance.
7. Be open to new information and experiences.
A fixed mindset literally switches us off to learning. Carol Dweck, the world leader in growth mindset theory, asked individuals with either a fixed or growth mindset a set of complex questions. Dweck then studied participants levels of brain activity whilst feedback was provided on whether their answers were correct. Dweck found that participants with a fixed mindset only showed interest when they were being told if they’d answered the questions correctly. The level of brain activity dialled down when more information about an incorrect question was provided. A fixed mindset prevented subjects from learning new information. In contrast, the growth mindset participants maintained a high level of brain activity throughout the feedback process and subsequent tests revealed they had learned more than those who approached the same test with a fixed mindset. Dweck’s research shows the importance of remaining open to new experiences and information, when we do so our neurons fire and wire together, developing our skills and abilities with a growth mindset.
Here at Positive Change Guru we love to talk about all things growth mindset. Get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke growth mindset training for your organisation.
Want to learn more?
Just how important is having a growth mindset if you want to see real change in your life? A growing body of evidence suggests that a fixed mindset can literally prevent us from learning and developing skills.
A Fixed mindset switches us off to learning
Research in neuroscience and psychology has shown that when a fixed mindset is adopted something very revealing takes place in the brain.
Psychologist, Carol Dweck, a world leader in growth mindset theory, conducted a study examining brain activity and mindsets with her team at Columbia University. Participants with either a generally fixed mindset or a generally growth mindset were asked a number of difficult questions. Feedback was then given to participants whilst Dweck’s team measured each person’s brain activity. In this fascinating study researchers found that both the fixed mindset and growth mindset subjects showed a great deal of interest and brain activity whilst being told whether they had answered each question correctly. Any similarity ended here. The growth mindset individuals continued to show a significant amount of brain activity and interest when they had answered a question incorrectly. Growth mindset participants were just as interested in learning the correct answer as they were in finding out whether they were right or wrong.
The fixed mindset group were quite different. Their brain activity was high when being told whether they had answered the question correctly. When told their answer was wrong, fixed mindset individuals lost interest. The level of brain activity literally dialled down when being told the correct answer and explanation. No interest in learning the new information was shown.
Both groups were also given a surprise retest. The fixed mindset group showed significantly less performance improvement than the growth mindset group on the retest.
Growth mindset enables us to learn, change and develop
Another famous study also highlights the problems of a fixed mindset. Psychologists, Robert Wood and Albert Bandura gave MBA students a computer simulated furniture company to successfully manage. The students were divided into two teams. Each team was tasked with placing employees in the right jobs & deciding how best to motivate and guide their workers. Before the students began the task in earnest, each group was primed towards a specific mindset.
One group was told that their performance would enable the researchers to measure their underlying capabilities to succeed at the task. They would either be naturally good at the task or they wouldn’t. In other words, Wood and Bandura encouraged a fixed mindset.
The other group was told that their skills to successfully complete the task would be developed through practice. It was explained that the more they were able to practice the necessary skills to perform the task, the better at cultivating those skills they would become. Wood and Bandura encouraged this group to take a growth mindset approach.
The first task that Wood and Bandura set both groups was deliberately difficult. Unrealistically high production standards were set in the initial task. Both groups fell short of the target. Both groups were then left to manage their company and employees and the progress of each group was monitored over a period of time.
Wood and Bandura found that the growth mindset group worked towards the task consistently. The growth mindset group practiced and developed their skills, they maintained motivation and performed well. The group that had been primed to hold a fixed mindset about the task told a different story. The fixed mindset group gave up on the task. they even did so with tasks that they could easily have achieved. Their performance deteriorated after their failure to succeed at the initial task.
This research perfectly demonstrates how limiting a fixed mindset can be in new learning situations. It also highlights the powerful impact that other people can have on our belief in our own capabilities.
Three tips for avoiding the fixed mindset trap
1) Make the commitment to have faith in your own ability to learn new things and change. Guard against being sidetracked or demotivated by the negative comments of others. Whereas constructive criticism is always helpful, it’s important to develop and listen to your own voice. Filter and decide whether criticism comes from a place of growth or fixed mindset.
2) When taking on a new challenge, be your own cheerleader. Develop the habit of encouraging yourself by using positive self-talk. Focus on how good you will feel when you have mastered your new skill or subject. Think about how you would encourage a friend or colleague if they were embarking on a new learning experience and coach yourself in the same way.
3) Ask yourself, what impact do your words have on those around you? Do you adopt a growth mindset and encourage others to learn, develop and grow? If not, take some time to think of ways in which you can improve the way you interact with others at work and home to encourage a growth mindset culture.
Here at Positive Change Guru we love to talk about all things growth mindset. Get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke growth mindset training for your organisation.
Want to test your mindset? Find the test here. Like to learn more about the growth mindset? Take a look at Carol Dweck’s Ted Talk.