Recently, I purchased a tank top that said in simple script across the front “Mind Over Matter.” I knew on a personal level that I liked the shirt, but it wasn’t until I wore it out in public that I realized the kind of effect it had on others. In the span of one day, 10 people came up to me when I was wearing it and each made a positive, uplifting comment. I had never met any of these people before in my life and I can’t say we would have ever spoken otherwise — had it not of been for the message on the shirt that resonated with them.
What is it about these three words that affects us so much? I like to think that Carol Dweck, psychology professor at Stanford University, nailed it when she discussed the concept of growth and fixed mindsets in the workplace. Here’s a look what those two ideas mean along with simple tips for how to live the mind over matter mindset on a daily basis.
What does it mean to have a growth or fixed mindset?
Before we get into placing mind over matter, we need to define what it means to have a growth or fixed mindset.
Leaders with fixed mindsets believe they are innately talented and you either have “it” or you don’t. If you have it, then why would it be necessary to keep learning or challenging yourself? The fixed mindset believes time is better spent making sure everyone knows just how capable you are. Should something go wrong, however, you’re not at fault. A fixed mindset places blame on others and in the workplace especially, this leads to creating a panicked atmosphere where everyone struggles to keep the upper management pleased at all times. Dweck notes that this ultimately leads to groupthink where nobody dares to challenge the status quo out of fear of punishment. This lowers morale as well as the mindsets of everyone employed within the company.
Growth mindsets, on the other hand, truly do place mind over matter. These types of leaders value hard work and credit learning through experience — mistakes and all — as what helps them develop their abilities. Their own abilities aside, they also encourage the growth of those around them and assign work that challenges and excites their team. Research has shown that the more workplaces embrace growth mindsets, the more committed their employees are to their team and the more innovative and risk-taking they become.
How can you set the tone for mind over matter in your workplace?
Since entrepreneurs and team members spend a great deal of time in the workplace, it’s important to create an environment where everyone feels appreciated, inspired, and motivated to give it their all each day. Here are some of the attributes Dweck advises including to encourage growth.
- Making sure that everyone knows the company places value on perseverance and learning.
- That all may learn valuable skill sets and teach others them as well.
- Feedback is a constructive tool that helps, not hinders, growth.
As a leader, how can you lead by example with mind over matter?
The first rule of thumb is to embrace the growth mindset and ditch the fixed mindset. Entrepreneurs who run startups must be willing to adapt as needed and figure out solutions for challenges, not dig their heels into the sand and refuse to change.
Make your workplace one that is an oasis of inspiration mingled with hard work. Roll up your sleeves alongside your team and focus on getting the job done and done well. Encourage your team to come to you with any feedback they may have, good or bad. Bring a positive attitude to the workplace and trust in your ever-evolving skills and abilities. And say yes to making mistakes. View mistakes as a learning tool and reward your team for putting forth the effort instead of striving solely for perfection — which, quite frankly, is more of an attribute of the fixed mindset than a growth one anyway.