Fear of failure, known as atychiphobia, can stop us in our tracks. Spooky, we know. Imagine being possessed by some external source that commands your every move. Failure sucks, but for some people that fear can stand between them and the life they secretly yearn for, blocking their dreams. Halloween is a great opportunity to unpack your fear of failure and exorcise it for good. A growing body of evidence suggests that a fixed mindset can literally prevent us from learning and developing skills. But how do you flip that switch to growth mindset? Grab your garlic and wooden stake, here’s what you can learn about growth mindset from Halloween.
Solstice, from the Latin solstitium, meaning sun standing. On the longest day of the year, solstice heralds the beginning of summer, paving the way for sunshine, light nights and fun. It brings energy, transition and growth. As the sun rises it welcomes in a new phase, new beginnings, a time to press pause and reflect. At 3.30am this morning, that’s just what we did as we headed up to the famous Castlerigg Stone Circle in Keswick, Cumbria to join the celebrations. In that small early morning window of darkness we contemplated our place in this huge universe and how solstice is the perfect time to begin, reignite or go deeper into our mindfulness practice. We take a look at;
- Are you mindful (or not)
- Mindfulness benefits
- 4 magical mindful solstice practices
‘Intent is a force that lives in the universe’ Carlos Castenados
Does every day feel like groundhog day? Are you stuck in negative patterns wondering when things will start to change? Perhaps your career is draining your creativity, you want something more but don’t know what it is. Maybe you do know and you’re afraid to take the necessary leap of faith? Perhaps you’re a square peg in a round career or it could be a relationship that is slowly sapping your self esteem adding to your feeling of disconnection. Maybe you’re too scared to leave. Or you feel that wherever you are or whoever you’re with, you will never be enough.The truth is, as Einstein observed ‘Nothing changes until something moves’. That something is you. And the movement you need is intention. Intention enables you to live with heart rather than habit.
Insurance company announces 34 jobs to be replaced by artificial intelligence
What’s your first reaction when you read that over 30 office jobs at a Japanese insurance company are about to be replaced by artificial intelligence? Are you you nervously wondering if your job will be next? Or are you excitedly thinking about the potential benefits AI could provide to your role or business? Is your immediate response to AI fuelled by fear or excitement? [Read more…]
4 Tips to Kick Start your New Year’s Resolutions (and give you the crucial 1 in 8 chance of maintaining them)
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
Another New Year, another set of resolutions. Good intentions abound but somehow, when January comes around, it all just seems harder than it sounded. Hands up if you’ve ever resolved to ;
- lose weight
- exercise more
- find a work-life balance
- stop smoking
- eat healthily
- spend more time with family
- manage your time more effectively
- just be nicer to be around
It comes as no surprise then, to learn that research from the university of Scranton suggests a measely 8% of us keep our New Year’s resolutions. After the first week of January a whopping quarter of us will have already ditched the goals we committed to at the beginning of January. [Read more…]
As election fever escalates and we wait with bated breath to see who will triumph, a new study in the Journal of Personality likens the impact of narcissistic leadership to chocolate cake. It seemed like the perfect time for Positive Change Guru to take a look at what Trump, leadership and a slice of our favourite cake have in common….
The Chocolate Cake Effect
“The first bite of chocolate cake is usually rich in flavour and texture, extremely gratifying. After a while, however, the richness of this flavour makes us feel increasingly nauseous. Being led by a narcissistic leader can produce a similar effect.”
In ‘This Leader Ship is Sinking: A Temporal Investigation of Narcissistic Leadership’ Wei Ong, Ross Roberts et al describe the honeymoon period whereby the confident, outgoing and dare we say it, pushy character appears to make a good leader. In times of political strife, those who sound as though they know what to do can seem a good option (even if they, like Trump, seem a bit hazy on the how). The researchers found that just like the first hit of chocolate cake, this kind of leadership doesn’t last. It simply isn’t up to the long haul required for long term change.
Narcissism Stunts Motivation (Yours Not Theirs)
The study followed 142 students taking part in weekly group tasks. Throughout the research the participants were asked to rate each others’ leadership skills. Students scoring high levels of narcissism rated higher on leadership in the beginning but as the research continued, that perception began to fade. Those initially perceived as leadership material were increasingly less likely to be rated as having the requisite skills. This decline was attributed to a lack of transformational leadership skills. The narcissistic leaders simply didn’t have the ability to motivate others. When we’re looking for a leader we need more than the chocolate cake effect. A transformational leader inspires and motivates others, creating transformation and growth. It’s hard to do that if you’re constantly focusing on yourself as a leader.
When the cake is finished and only the crumbs remain, how do you inspire your team?
- Know Your Team. Take time to get to know your team. Identify their strengths along with areas they need and want to develop. Ask for their opinion and their ideas. Say ‘Hello’ ask them how they are. Build a genuine rapport and learn who they are and what motivates them.
- Listen. Collaborate with your team. Encourage suggestions and ideas. Incubate innovation by listening to (and implementing) new ideas cultivating a no blame culture so that you’re team isn’t afraid to try something new.
- Be Clear On Your Vision. Know what you want to achieve and communicate that the your team, department and organisation. Your vision shouldn’t stop with your senior leaders. You all need to know what you’re aiming for if it’s going to succeed. You should be able to articulate your vision in less than 5 minutes.
- Model Behaviour. Model the behaviours, values and attitudes that you have laid out in your vision. Nobody wants to be the leader who espouses one thing and does another. Audit your behaviour to check that you’re walking your talk.
- It’s a VUCA World. If you’re leading transformation in a VUCA world (and you are) it’s important to aid your own growth and development as a transformational leader. Take time out to;
- Challenge your assumptions
- Be flexible in your communication style
- Take time to reflect and renew
‘There is nothing so stable as change‘. Bob Dylan
Transition and Change
Are you working on your New Year’s resolutions, transitioning from old habits to new and making changes in your personal or professional life?
Change is defined as something that takes place quickly and is a shift in the externals of a situation, for example, a new leader is appointed within an organisation. Transition, by contrast, is the internal, emotional and psychological process that a person undergoes when they relinquish the old arrangement and embrace new situations. Change is made up of events whereas transition is an ongoing process. The Transition Model is the work of the late William Bridges, and is valuable for those experiencing change because it focuses on transition rather than change. This transition model is predominantly used for organisational change but the three stages can just as easily be applied to personal change.
Three stages of transition
The Transition Model highlights three stages of transition that individuals experience during the change process:
Ending, Losing and Letting Go.
The Neutral Zone.
The New Beginning.
Stage 1: Ending, Losing and Letting Go
This is the initial stage that occurs when people are confronted by change and is typified by resistance and difficult emotions when people are confronted with letting go of what is familiar and comfortable to them. In stage one people focus on the past, on what feels certain and safe. William Bridges cautions that many change projects fail because organisations and individuals try to proceed too quickly to the third stage (the new beginning) and don’t spend enough time at this initial letting go stage. Typical emotions at this stage are:
A sense of loss
Support in Stage One
It’s crucial to acknowledge emotions during stage one, doing so is part of the process that enables people to accept the ending and begin to progress to accepting the new situation. Open communication and listening is key at this stage, people will have lots of anxieties and questions about the change taking place and what it means for them. The more people are encouraged to envision the positive role they will have in the future, when the change has occurred, the more likely they are to progress to the next stage.
Stage 2: The Neutral Zone
The second stage is characterized by uncertainty and can be disorienting. New ways of doing things may create increased pressure as people develop new habits or ways of working. Typical emotions at this stage are:
Low productivity and low morale
Anxiety regarding their place in the future
Doubtful about the effectiveness of the change process
Resentment regarding the change
Support in Stage Two
Ensuring a strong sense of direction and purpose at this stage is essential and avoids feelings of being adrift and rudderless. In the neutral zone it’s important to envision success and be able to see the positive effects of the change. Setting and achieving easy win goals is crucial at this stage, such goals help us to see that efforts have been successful. Celebrating effort and achievement is also an important element of highlighting success.
Stage 3: The New Beginning
The final stage is characterized by an acknowledgement of progress and embracing of the change. At this stage people are more accepting of the change and their transition includes developing their skills to meet new demands. Typical transition experiences now include:
Increased energy for their role
Commitment to the organisation (or individual change)
Enthusiasm to learn new skills
Support in Stage Three
Sustaining enthusiasm, positive attitudes and positive relationships is key during the final stage of transition. Not everyone will reach this stage at the same time, so maintaining the momentum is crucial, if momentum starts to flag, it’s possible to slip back to earlier stages when advantages and positive effects of the change are not felt. Some people will not move through the stages at all. Continuing to highlight success stories and celebrate individual, team or organisational wins embeds the change.
Want to follow up with more tips on change? See Dan Heath on change:
In the second of this series of two blogs on organisational culture and mindset, we take a tour of seven tips for developing a growth mindset organisation.
1) Refuse to be deterred by negativity.
All individuals will approach learning new information and skills with a different attitude, pace and enthusiasm. 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, 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. Adopt a coaching approach towards yourself and others.
2) Envision 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 that will be experienced when a goal is achieved, is a crucial factor for success. Develop a clear and vivid vision of what success will look like and communicate this at every opportunity to others in the organization.
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 embrace challenge? If not, take some time to think of ways in which you can improve your interactions with others in the organization to encourage a growth mindset culture.
4) Take on new challenges wholeheartedly.
Don’t avoid tasks that feel less than easy to master. Challenging tasks allow individuals and teams 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” (Linley, 2007). New or difficult tasks are an opportunity to develop new skills and build new synaptic connections, with practice both will strengthen and improve performance.
5) Celebrate your successes.
A belief in the ability to change has a direct impact on motivation to try new things, persevere and complete the change process. Make time to acknowledge and celebrate team and organizational successes. Recognise the hard work that has enabled everyone to learn new skills or excel in an existing area. Think about how the organization tackled previous challenges. When you and your team 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. Individuals 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 can be done differently next time to improve performance.
7) Maximise learning opportunities, be open to new information and experiences.
A fixed mindset literally switches us off to learning. 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.
Fired up to find out more? Watch Carol Dweck talk about the power of yet…
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.
How to successfully manage change
So you’re all fired up to create positive change. Whether your change is personal or professional, these ten great videos contain plenty of advice and ideas to motivate and inspire you on your journey to success.
- Optimising the performance of the human mind. Dr Steve Peters works with the UK Athletics, British Cycling, Sky Pro Cycling teams and has worked with a number of winning Olympic teams. Here, he shares his expertise and offers some great tips for changing habits and implementing change.
- Change anything! Use skillpower over willpower. Al Switzler has studied behaviour change for over thirty years, in this video he shares his tried and tested techniques to successfully achieve lasting change.
- Six keys to leading positive change. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School Professor, reveals the success factors that are the keys to positive change, including lining up partnerships, managing the miserable middles of change, and sharing success with others.
- Lead and be the change. Acclaimed business leader, entrepreneur, consultant, researcher, author, and lecturer, Professor Mark Mueller-Eberstein examines transformation and change.
- Three myths of behavior change – what you think you know that you don’t. Need to influence others to make your change happen? Jenny Cross reveals three myths to help you on your way.
- The psychology of self-motivation. Scott Geller, is Alumni Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech and Director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems in the Department of Psychology. Geller explores how we can become self-motivated in “The Psychology of Self-Motivation.”
- Change management vs. change leadership — What’s the Difference? Internationally renowned leadership and management expert, John Kotter, discusses the important distinction between change management and change leadership and why both are crucial to successful change.
- Embracing change. Jason Clarke takes a fresh, creative look at change and provides some fantastic tips to propel you through change.
- The Power of belief — mindset and success. Eduardo Brice discusses how crucial mindset is to success and offers tips to develop a growth mindset, an essential component for successful change.
- The psychology of your future self. Psychologist, Dan Gilbert, discusses the one constant in life, change. Discover how the powerful force of time transforms our preferences and shapes our values and the implications of this for our approach to change.
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: