Mindset suggests we are set in our way of thinking about things, but instead we should remain open and fluid, Jamie Morley suggests.
I hear people talking about having the right mindset a great deal. ‘This person doesn’t have the right mindset’, ‘I don’t have the right mindset’.
It is a phrase that is used very frequently, but I often wonder what does that person mean when they say that? I would often feel that it doesn’t really explain with any clarity what the issue is.
In this article I am going to dive into this topic and see what we find!
What exactly do we mean by mindset?
A couple of dictionary definitions from the internet are as follows:
- ‘A person’s way of thinking and their opinions. Their attitudes and beliefs about how things are’
- ‘A person’s general attitude and the way they think about things’.
This suggests that it is their general attitude and way of thinking. I think this is where we have to be really careful. When we talk broadly and say they have the wrong mindset we are saying very broadly that this person is always thinking this way in all situations.
If you were to say this to somebody, it is likely this is how they would take it and it would feel like a personal attack. Is this really true that they always think this way?
In my experience this is rarely the case. It is normally more likely that the individual shows a certain type of mindset in one situation and a different type of mindset in another situation.
Fixed versus growth mindset
We can start to make this more specific by looking at some specific mindsets that have become more frequently referred to. These are useful to look at as they start to make it more specific.
The first one is the fixed versus growth mindset. When I first heard about this I thought it was fairly self explanatory. I am always wanting to grow so I’ve got this!
It wasn’t until I read Carol Dweck’s book Mindset that I really understood it more. I realised that in many situations I actually have a fixed mindset.
Are you fixed in your view for example that you are either very intelligent or not very intelligent? Are you fixed in your view that you are either great at a particular sport or terrible at it?
Ultimately, if we are fixed on our view of something we are not open to continually learning and growing. When anything goes contrary to this we tend to reject it. It becomes too painful due to it breaking our fixed view of something.
On the other hand, if we have a growth mindset we see that everything can change. We can develop and evolve in all areas. As a result, when something doesn’t work we just see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Abundance versus scarcity mindset
The second one is the abundance versus scarcity mindset. The abundance mindset assumes that there’s more space and resources than what you might see by default. You find a way to create more opportunities. You can expand solutions to be inclusive of your ideas as well as others. Rather than fight turf wars, you create a larger space.
When you operate from a scarcity mentality you get defensive or offensive. You find yourself competing unnecessarily.
Rather than spending your energy competing, you can spend it creating more alternatives and expanding opportunities and finding abundance.
This is particularly relevant for dentists and orthodontists. There is real concern over local competition and there not being enough. This is a scarcity mindset.
Scarcity mindset means ever enough and can include us not doing, having or being enough. Abundance mindset means there is more than enough to go around and that we have enough, are doing enough and are being enough.
In what situation do you show an abundance mindset versus a scarcity mindset?
Positive versus negative mindset
The third one is the positive versus negative mindset. The positive mindset involves looking at things through a lens where we can see solutions to move forward rather than looking at it through a lens of nothing working and no possibilities in overcoming situations and barriers.
I think you have to be super careful with this mindset that it doesn’t spill over into not wanting to bring up issues and/or not highlighting when things are wrong. This can have disastrous consequences on many fronts for teams and businesses.
It is about believing that there is a way forward and you can find solutions.
In what situations do you show a positive mindset versus a negative mindset?
When we are faced with different situations in life and work it is useful to challenge our current thinking around the situation and then to reframe it.
Am I looking at this with a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? If I am taking a fixed mindset approach what would it look like if I looked at it with a growth mindset? The same for the other mindsets.
Is it always best to have a specific mindset? Are there situations where the other mindset is more helpful? We want things black and white because it’s easier. But is this the case?
When I reflect on this, I believe it is really important to be more definitive about what exactly we mean by mindset when judging our own or the mindset of others. Be more specific about the approach and behaviours that we are showing and have examples.
I actually start to question the term mindset in it’s own right. Mind set, if we separate the word into two parts, suggests that we are set in our mind about how we approach things.
To me, this is potentially the most important mindset of all, which is actually not to have a mindset but to remain fluid, open and flexible in how we look at things.
With everything changing so quickly perhaps the most important mindset is for your mind not to be set at all. Rather stay mindful in everything we do and in how we approach different situations.
Jamie Morley is the author of Lead Your Dental Practice available at bit.ly/leadyourdentalpracticeamazon.