Today I’m going to share with you the 6 magic words that have helped me embrace a growth mindset…and stop the thoughts that hold people back. It’s hard to image that such a simple strategy could spell the difference between failure and success, but try it yourself!
I’ll start with a confession: I love all kinds of physical activity, but I’m not naturally flexible. Touch my toes? Hmmm…well, maybe. Put my palms on the ground? What??! Are you kidding? Perform the expressive hand gestures required by a variety of dance traditions? No way!!
The truth is, many years ago I “became” able to do those things…and a lot more. In fact, I could do splits with ease, twist myself into a pretzel, and other stuff like that.
Did I feel great? You bet!
But I didn’t feel great when I was at the gym and people would exclaim, “WOW! You’re amazing! You’re so flexible. I could NEVER do that!”
It was lovely to be complimented. But, I began to dislike hearing comments like that because they didn’t reflect the big truth: I worked like a demon to get that way! As a person with a tight body, it took tremendous commitment, dedication, and grit to work as hard and long as I had to to get there. When I heard, “You’re so flexible…” it didn’t honor the incredible effort I put into achieving it.
What I used to say is simply, “Thanks…but I’m really not very flexible. I work really hard at it and you could be this flexible, too, if you work at it!”
Which brings me to some questions for you: When was the last time you caught yourself saying something like, “I’m not good at this,” or “I’d never be able to do that no matter what?”
Do you remember the last time you comforted a friend who was struggling to do something or lost out on something by saying, “Don’t worry! Not everyone can XYZ…” or “It’s OK if you’re not a great XYZ because you’re good at other things.”
Or, have you had people compliment you, as they did me, by saying, “You’re so great! I could never do what you do!”
The idea that certain people are able to do things because of innate talent and others are incapable because they lack talent is the foundation of Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset. Her work proved that everyone is capable of doing a lot better than most of us think if we suspend the judgement of “can’t” or “not good at.” Instead, by taking a “can do” attitude, we not only can achieve a lot more, but we increase our brain’s capacity to learn and grow into the future.
Similarly, Ellen Langer, the first woman to gain tenure at Harvard’s psychology department, asserted that you’re absolutely wrong if you think you can’t do something. That belief is false because it is based only on what you’ve tried in the past that has failed. The past does not determine your future.
I’m only able to do cool things and go beyond my boundaries, because I use the strategies for adopting growth mindset that I teach in my free course–on myself! But there’s a lot of fantastic content in this mini course, so where do you start? What’s the first thing you can do right now to start adopting a growth mindset?
This brings me to the subject of this post: Six Magic Words: Jump Start Your Growth Mindset.
Say these six words out loud:
And then apply them whenever you hear yourself getting ready to say something that condemns you or anyone else to “can’t,” “never,” or “not good at.”
If you do catch yourself saying something like, “I”m not good at baking,” repeat yourself and tack on one of the Magic 6, “I’m not good at baking…yet,” (but I could be better if I practice.) Or, restate (reframe) what you’ve said and include one of the Magic 6: “I’m bad at languages” turns into, “So far, I haven’t been able to learn another language.”
In addition, see how you might use the Magic 6 when you respond to others when you hear them talk about innate talent or ability.
|When you hear:||You can respond with:|
|“I’ve never been good at keeping the clutter under control.”||“So far, it’s been hard for you to keep the clutter under control.”|
|“I’m terrible at keeping my finances in order.”||“You haven’t been able to get your finances in order yet.”|
|“I’m taking tango lessons, but I’m terrible at it. I have two left feet!”||“Right now, the tango is a challenge!”|
As Ellen Langer points out, we get stuck when we let the past determine the future.
Use the Magic 6 to increase the world of possibilities for you and others around you. We’re certain they’ll help you gain a new perspective!
Share your goals and successes with us to strengthen your change!
We invite you to join us in our closed Facebook group, IWE Weekly Practice: Make Positive Change Stick to report back on a weekly basis how things are going for you.
Research shows that holding yourself publicly accountable strengthens your chances for success, so the simple act of reporting back will help you put your tips and tools to practice.
We look forward to hearing your reports back!