How Do You Succeed Better In The Face Of Adversity? Change Your Mindset

At the Women of the Channel Leadership Summit in New York City, Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, psychologist and best-selling author, said having the right type of mindset is proven to improve performance in the workplace and lead to greater success.

In order to achieve your full potential, you have to have the right mindset.

At the Women of the Channel Leadership Summit in New York City, Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, psychologist and best-selling author, said having the right type of mindset is proven to improve performance in the workplace and lead to greater success.

Halvorson defined mindsets as the way people approach work, including the purpose and what their definition of success in the work is. By choosing a more successful mindset, she said people can be more effective in the workplace and succeed better in the face of adversity.

"I think this is incredibly powerful and the most useful thing you can do each day…to grow," Halvorson said.

Halvorson said there are two types of mindsets to approach work with: a "be good" mindset and a "growth" mindset. In the more common "be good" mindset, people approach work as a way to prove themselves and their abilities in certain areas, where success means validation of their skills. The downside of this mindset, she said, is that when facing challenges and setbacks, it can lead to self-doubt.

In the "growth" mindset, Halvorson said people approach tasks with an attitude of developing your abilities and skills, with the point of work to develop skills and stretch yourself beyond what you were capable of in the past.

"The idea is, how can I ramp up the amount of time each day I spend focused on getting better and thinking of the work I do as an opportunity to grow," Halvorson said.

Where these mindsets come into play the most is when facing challenges, Halvorson said, and will ultimately determine whether someone thrives. In a "be good" mindset, a challenge will lead someone to often doubt their ability, which leads to an emotional reaction like anxiety, helplessness, and ultimately avoidance. In a "growth" mindset, challenges prompt a need to improve, using negative emotions as fuel to improve and leading ultimately to progress over time.

Halvorson said the "growth" mindset is not only proven to help people move through challenges more successfully, but data has shown that they are actually more successful at tasks under adversity than those with a "be good" mindset. 

"Growth mindset is practically speaking one of the most useful things you can do for your performance," Halvorson said.

Halvorson said there are three ways that people can change their mindset for the better. First, she urged people to start paying more attention to their mindset in different situations, then shift the mindset from being frustrated and self-critical about challenges to a mindset of "I'm just not good at this yet." That exercise will get easier over time, she said.

"Think of this as reprogramming your brain," Halvorson said. "The more you practice something, the more automatic it becomes. Period."

Second, Halvorson said people should reframe their goals to a "growth" mindset, using keywords such as: grow, progress, improve, become, develop, over time. For example, she said changing a goal from "I want to be an effective communicator" to "I want to become an effective communicator" can help drive a "growth" mindset.

Finally, Halvorson said to focus on progress and comparing yourself to your past and where you want to be, rather than those around you. Halvorson said people can spread this mindset to others, as well, by sharing their own experiences of growth and overcoming challenges, to encourage others to start to think the same way. 

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