top of page

Growth Mindset 

We often think of Carol Dweck's Mindset paradigm as a personal or choice to be understood from an individual's standpoint rather than as a corporate or organizational culture choice. Dweck gave examples of leaders of organizations with a "fixed" mindset, such as ENRON's focus on personal reputation rather than corporate reality. Or, Chrysler's Lee Iacocca, whom Dweck said her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2007), resurrected the company and began focusing on his reputation while the company declined.

 

There was a time in my career I thought I was a forward and relational thinking professional operating in a growth mindset. In retrospect, I often teetered between a "fixed" and "growth" mindset solely based upon campus culture or company expectations. I remember administrators speaking of their desire for teachers to have a "growth" mindset in which mechanized instruction became the norm, and "failure" was never an option nor acceptable. Their idea of a "growth" mindset was being "positive," being a "team-player" (no questions asked), and benchmarked data points met. In other words, Carol Dweck's research became a modeled buzzword that someone in the administration building learned at a conference and returned only to regurgitate bits and pieces of a full course meal to district principals who forwarded this process on to their teachers. Teachers who took the time to read or research Dweck's writings often became "growth" mindset champions working in a "fixed" mindset environment. In a data-driven world where all students must pass the same standardized test, will we ever have an institutional or organizational growth mindset in education?

 

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine, 2008.

Growth Mindset Plan

I must admit this was a difficult assignment. As a former educator, I can understand and evaluate myself and other's mental and emotional posture as it relates to Dweck's growth mindset. Working in business, the personification of our company was both challenging and eye-opening. The "mindset" of an organization is its culture. A company's culture consists of leaders' shared beliefs and values, and then communicated and reinforced and shape employee perceptions, behaviors, and understanding (SHRM, 2017).

Reflection

Concepts of Educational Technology caused me to do an enormous amount of introspective self-reflection.  Working in a company with no more than 20 employees, I often feel overwhelmed and all over the place, racing to respond to put out the next fire. Participating in this course has helped me to see things more clearly and to set boundaries.  

 

First, understanding a company's culture is its mindset was indeed eye-opening. I saw that have subcultures that sometimes compete for significance without the desire to do the work. After reviewing Margaret Heffernan's 2015 TEDTalk entitled, "Forget the Pecking Order at Work," I found myself appreciating the team of creatives with whom I work. It is refreshing to work in an environment where the only competition is to produce a more excellent product than the previous item. I have worked on teams of "super chickens" that peck away innovation, creativity, and collaborative trust while demanding conformity and undying allegiance to this cause.

 

The truth is a younger me was a "damn good" "super chicken" that could have been the general of a "superflock." As a more energetic, spry "super chicken" teacher, I measured success in terms of scores. Then as a more seasoned regional manager for a teacher association, I measured success by the number of compromises rather than the number of grievance victories. Now, as a Director during COVID, I realized I have been picking up other people's dropped projects, all while juggling my own. Yes, I am a fixer whose pride has come full circle back to the "super chicken."

 

Second, I realized that I have to lead my team in such a way as to cultivate and develop their gifts and talents while developing a social connectedness which is the cornerstone of "social capital" (Hefferman, 2015). Social capital is the reliance and interdependency of team members that build trust, whereas professionals collaborate and learn from one another in a safe environment.  I have a young team willing to take risks and aren't afraid to jump off a cliff and glide to see how far they could go. I always do my best to exemplify a growth mindset and nurture their passion. When they go far out there, I am careful to say, "That's a great idea. Let's hold it for later." I try never to say no. I don't want to reign in or on their passion or their imagination and creative expression.

 

Last, because of failing forward, I have learned to say "no." I realized I dropped the ball on my projects when picking up and completing the responsibilities of others.

 

I have three take-away lessons or strategies to failing forward.

 

  • First, get up again. 

 

  • Second, learn from the mistake of the moment. 

 

  • Third, move forward in a better direction. 

 

 

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine, 2008.
 

Maxwell, J. C. (2000). Failing forward: How to make the most of your mistakes. Thomas Nelson.

TED. (2015, June 16). Margaret Heffernan: Why it's time to forget the pecking order at work [Video].

      YouTube. https://youtu.be/Vyn_xLrtZaY

 

 

For more about what I am learning and contributions to my cohort, check out the blog page links below.

 

Resource & COVID Blogs

TECH & LEARNING LEADERSHIP REGIONAL SUMMIT

National Library Week

2020: The Year of Loss

Learning and Growth Mindset Blogs

I Hate Math!

Knowing Enough to Think You're Right

COVA and The Power of Choice

Growing in My Truth

The Learning Manifesto

Failing Forward

Texas School Finance Blogs

Across the Lawn

$18 Billion!

Across the Lawn 2

North Texas Federal Stimulus Press Conference

While You Were Sleeping

bottom of page