Copyright 2021 John Alex i Piotr Jankowski +48 509 774 360

Fixed or Growth Mindset?

Piotr: Hi, John Alex...

John Alex: Hi Piotr, how are things?

Piotr: I really suck. I am for nothing. I will never be able to prove I deserve the promotion. I got a big project, so important to the Company and I just figured out we are never going to finish on time and need additional financing to make it a success, which means it is going to be a failure... I am a failure! Moreover, to succeed in this project I failed my family, my son asked me to help him with some homeworks, which I obviously did superficially, my wife distanced from me. All for nothing! I am a big failure.

John Alex: Oh Piotr, I am so sorry to hear all that, but why are you so sad?

Piotr: What do you mean, are you kidding me? Everybody counted on me, I am the Company Star and now I failed. I wanted to prove I am The Man and now everybody will see I am not!

John Alex: Not that, I meant you got your diagnosis there...

Piotr: Diagnosis?

John Alex: Ok ok, please calm down and let us talk... Take some deep breaths ok? I want you to relax a bit. I need to take you on a journey, please stay with me and keep answering my questions.

Piotr: Ok... [sighs]... [7 deep breaths]

John Alex: First of all I need to define the mindset, the attitude people have towards life. After Prof. Carol Dweck people can have one of two fundamentally different mindsets: fixed mindset and growth mindset. Fixed mindset behavior is when you define the success in the sense of proving yourself, under influence of a belief, where every opportunity or event in your life is to define you for good and for ever. If you win, you are a winner. If you lose, you are a loser, a failure yourself.

However, if your acting is with a growth mindset, you would accept there would be challenges on the way and that those are an opportunity to learn from them, because you have missed X or Y this is the first ever occurence of such an event, so you couldn't be prepared! Now it happened, you analyze what went wrong and you have just learnt how to make it better the next time!

Piotr: Alright, I think I understand what you want to explain, but Company wants success, not just me learning. This was school!

John Alex: Let me continue, Mr Impatient. This is yet - and most importantly in the first step - not about the Company - but you! Stay with me, please. Coming back to mindsets. People with fixed mindsets think they need to prove something, compete, and they define themselves within the result - as a success or failure. People with growth mindset, are aware there will be challenges on the way and would use them to build their inteligence, experience to improve and make it better, to then reoffer as added value back to the Company, as you mentioned.

Fixed mindet Guys would even siometimes flight from trying, afraid of losing. They would flight from learning, as they believe they might be the best already (so why bother learning), Like you mentioned "Company Star"... straight road to hell, Piotr. Can you see that?

Piotr: Yyyyes... Please go on!

John Alex: Fixed mindset behavior is targetted to find a moment to claim success. You can be 100% sure though, that there will be a moment of a failure (using this taxonomy), which means that a fixed mindset person, sooner or later will become a failure in his/her own eyes! Damaging mindset, indeed!

Take a look at the famous people Piotr, I will quote you something, I know you loved Michael Jordan and played basketball:

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." . What a growth mindset from Michael, isn't it?

Piotr: Always loved that quote, but never took it this way, like a growth mindset. I though it was just... humble?

John Alex: Humble indeed, as growth mindset is humble. As opposed to fixed mindset, which makes one thinking this way "on a pedestal", "better than others". WHich is damaging self and others in consequences.
Moreover, fixed mindset is flight, like I told you. You play tennis right?

Piotr: Yes, love tennis since 2 years!

John Alex: Do you know many coaches know people, who come for a practice, but never want to play points? Never participated any tournament, even for beginners? Why is that?

Piotr: Because they are afraid competing? 

John Alex: Not really, they would love competing, because their fixed mindset asks them to prove themselves and compare to others, but there comes the fear of failing, so if they don't have to, they would not let it happen, not to come up as a failure! They have achieved their fixed mindset success somewhere else, why would they destroy that by losing if they don't have to? 

Piotr: Wow... I love competing and winning and you know, the adrenaline, I am a beginner, but I love those matches, leagues and tournament! 

John Alex: Then congratulations on your growth mindset, Piotr! You have changed through those years, but this is exactly where you should be! When you go to the tennis court as a beginner, compete with better, lose all games, come back smiling, taking all those lessons back to coach, workign through weaker parts, then coming back a little better is the growth mindset. Lost game yesterday did not define you, did not make you a failure, having a growth mindset you took this as a lesson, worked even harder to improve the next day, to come back for next tournament and win 1 game finally.

Piotr: Correct, this is how I see that.

John Alex: This is great! Can you now come back to your initial challenge we started this conversation? How would a growth mindset behave or pictured this? 

Piotr: Hmmmm... I guess, the growth mindsed would be still disapointed things went wrong, but he would think: "Ok, this project is so far not going well, what do I need to do to overcome those challenges? Maybe something unexpected happened, which I now need to tweak. Maybe I need to speak to someone more experienced? Maybe I need to talkk to bosses quickly, give them honest blunt situational report and show how I am going to fix that? Maybe I should say I learned something new and inform how this wil change my acting for the future? Maybe not everything is lost and I can still come back to budget and timeline? Maybe I need to change something in a way I prepare project plan or how I assess risks for the future?"
John Alex: Great, how different is that? And what about the family part...?

Piotr: Maybe I should reflect to my dearest wife I mixed working environement and home too much and commit I will spend more quality time with her? And treat son's homework at least as equally important to my projects? Or differently - there is nothing more important when at home, than my son and my wife. This is work-life balance right? 

John Alex: Exactly right. I have a nice quote for you Piotr, have a look: "Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts" - Winston Churchil.

This is how Sir Winston Churchil described the growth mindset, crossing the fixed mindset out.
It also reminds me Simon Sinek's Infinite Mindset concept, do you remember?

Piotr: Yes! That it is not about winning a particular thing, but to continue and strive doing. If your goal is to become richest in the world or company number one or leader number one, even if you succeed one day, there will be finally somebody else or another company a bit better! This would not describe neither a success nor a failure, unless you are a fixed mindset. Infinite mindset and infinite leadership means to keep thinking about motivation, will-power and resources to still have energy to continue striving. Indeed a close concept to growth mindset 

John Alex: Perfectly summarized Mr. So what is you plan now?

Piotr: Need to go John Alex, so many things I need to do: project revision, team meeting, brainstorming, maybe some creative way out of the issue, then lessons and improvement to the project planning/approach so it never happens again. And I need to buy some flowers for my wife and prepare a nice dinner too! And get my sone someqhere then help him growing wisely and without too much stress!

John Alex: Sounds like a plan, call me whenever you need me Piotr


John Alex's Commentary: 

Just couple of thoughts when Piotr is already away. Growth mindset does not mean we do not want to succeed in results defined by bosses or grab a medal. It is the mindset we talk about, it is how we approach to success definition and how tolerant we are towards ourselves on challenges or obstacles appearing on the way. And how we learn and turn these mini hiccups into success by flexibility, adapting, learning = growing, instead of penalizing self or teams for things.

I wish you every success and growth, All!





Inspired by Professor Carol S. Dweck, Book: "Mindset" and Simon Sinek's "Infinite Mindset" concept


John Alex Leadership Coaching Life Coaching Business Mentoring Consulting
17 September 2020