What is this Mindset Stuff, Anyway?Dec 28, 2020
Have you been hearing about "mindset" a lot and wondered what that really means? You're not alone. Some say that mindset is the single most important thing to our happiness and success in every aspect of our lives: at work, at play, and in our relationships with others. So what is mindset? Is it the difference between being an optimist or a pessimist? Is it empathy? Does it have something to do with gratitude? With your expectations of other people? Of yourself? Is it about perspective?
In a sense it is all of those things.
Whether you believe you will be happy or not, you are right! There are a lot of mindset strategies that can do wonders for your outlook and your happiness including practicing gratitude, interrupting negative thoughts, acknowledging progress and success, looking for beauty in the moment, expecting the positive, and being present. I hesitate to place more importance on any one of these strategies over others, but there is one that afflicts us lawyers like a cancer and can be an absolute game changer: learning to approach life with a growth versus a fixed mindset.
If you are like most lawyers, you were most likely a very good to great student. You were probably told you were smart and praised for your intelligence. You may have also been good at other things without much real effort. If that describes your youth, you also might have shied away from things that you felt like you weren't good at, sticking to doing things where you knew you would shine. Not doing well made you feel frustrated, like a failure, and you may have quit or come up with reasons why it didn't matter. This is what is now described by behavioral psychologists as a "fixed mindset." It describes about 60% of lawyers. This pattern carried into adult endeavors creates a mindset that is rigid and often limiting. A fixed mindset does not allow for growth or improvement, and often leads to high levels of stress, anxiety or depression.
In a growth mindset, you see failure as an opportunity to learn and get better. Each time you learn you improve. You are not afraid of failure because you are confident in your ability to master skills with hard work and to improve with practice. You don't personalize mistakes and tie them to your self worth. People with a fixed mindset can learn to change that mindset, making them happier, more resilient, and more likely to succeed in the long run. See Mindset, The New Psychology of Success, Carol S. Dweck, PhD.
A big part of we do in our 12-week course and in our coaching programs is to take a deep dive into mindset and work on small changes that can make a huge difference. Contact us to learn more!
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