Mind Games: Adopting a Growth Mindset

You're not smart enough. You can do this.

Who are you to tackle that? You've been waiting for an opportunity like this.

Can you imagine what they'll say when you fail? What will it feel like to succeed?

Every day, our mind is playing these games inside our head. There is this push and pull dialogue playing out trying to convince us that we are both good enough and weak at the same time. It is like having a villain on one shoulder working hard to diminish our confidence while a hero is hard at work on the other shoulder aiming to propel us forward. And while we can recognize the incredible opportunity to align with both our passion and purpose, our own mind can get in our way of evolving into the best version of ourselves.

There is no easy fix to tackling these mind games. It takes time and discipline to train our minds to prioritize our focus on the hero within. Here are two tangible actions that we can take to weaken the influence of our villain.

Strength Game Plays

  • Throughout your day, pay attention to when you get energized and what you are procrastinating. You'll likely notice a change in your body language when you are engaging in actions that feed your passion, play to your strengths, and motivate you. Similarly, you'll notice how you retreat from doing tasks that don't excite you, often making excuses for why you can't even start the task (too little time, not enough energy, lack of knowledge or experience).
  • Write down these "energizers" and "deflaters" on individual post-it notes.
  • Using a playing field visual, position the "energizers" on one side facing off against the opposing team, your "deflaters." Notice which team has more plays.
  • Look for ways to spend more time playing to your strengths each day and be sure to openly communicate with others where you get energy so that they can support you by surfacing "game plays" that feed your passion and purpose.
  • Marcus Buckingham, author of Go Put Your Strengths to Work, reminds us, "A strength is an activity that before you're doing it you look forward to doing it; while you're doing it, time goes by quickly and you can concentrate; after you've done it, it seems to fulfill a need of yours."

Define Your Vision

  • Draw two stick figures on a sheet of paper, one on the left side and the other on the right side.
  • Now draw three arrows between the two stick figures.
  • Label the stick figure on the left "present," and around the figure, write down how you would describe yourself today. What are your core characteristics, strengths, challenges, etc.?
  • Now label the stick figure on the right "future," and around that figure, write down how you want to be viewed by others and the goals that you want to achieve in a fixed timeframe (e.g. six months, one year).
  • Label the top arrow "start," and identify one action that you can start today that moves you closer to your vision.
  • Label the middle arrow "stop," and identify one action that you will stop today that will aid you in achieving your goals.
  • Label the bottom arrow "continue," and identify one action that you will keep doing today because it is aligned with getting you to your vision.
  • Hang this visual somewhere that you will see it often so that it serves as a reminder of what you are aspiring to be and to achieve with tangible action items that will help get you there.

Carol Dweck, the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, writes, "We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don't like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary."

Each of us has this ability to adopt a growth mindset, to train our minds to continually learn, grow and evolve with the experiences and encounters that we have each day. In the face of adversity, we can continually practice adapting and discovering solutions that propel us forward versus settling with excuses and naysayer attitudes. Often, our self-imposed limitations let the villain inside of us win while silencing the hero within that is capable, strong enough and talented. It is our choice and our calling to strategize and ultimately win at the mind games playing in our heads.

Playing off of the famous Saturday Night Live skit, remind yourself that you are good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like you! Now go win the mind game.