Albert Einstein said “the important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing”. We never stop learning, we always have the capacity to learn newer and better ways of doing things, responding to things, and of existing with others in the world.
Children continuously experience ‘software upgrades’ to their brain as it grows and develops. At the age of 21, we physically stop ‘upgrading’ but luckily our minds continue to grow and evolve and can actually keep rewiring to deal with new environments and greater levels of complexity. We can all benefit from ‘software upgrades’ for the brain, and it is this ability that I rely on when coaching leaders on how to adapt to the changing complexities of their environments.
Evolve your thinking
Think of a time when you had a significant shift in the way you think or see the world. Gosh, given our experience of the last couple of years, I can think of quote a few of these moments. What was going on internally and externally before, during and after the shift in thinking. When I am facilitating leadership workshops I will often ask this question. And I usually see a very clear pattern emerge around three key areas:
Having a growth mindset, and not a fixed mindset, dramatically increases the likelihood that you learn from events and therefore grow and develop your thinking. If you react to new information with the mindset that you know better, or you already know something and everything you could possibly know about a subject then you will be closing off the opportunity to evolve your thinking and behaviour.
A growth mindset on the other hand, is one that moves towards challenges, embracing them, with the aim of constantly learning and evolving. “What can I learn here?” “What is new?” “What is different?”. Having a growth mindset, and not a fixed mindset, dramatically increases the likelihood that you grow and develop your thinking.
In her studies on the mindsets of school children, Carole Dweck noticed that the talented kids are actually overtaken by those who are less talented but who work hard to make up for their shortfall. What she discovered in her studies was that the talented children did not have growth mindsets. They thought that because they were talented they didn’t have to try too hard, and closed their minds to learning new information or refining their skillset and knowledge base. In order to keep evolving your mind, your behaviour and your skills you need to embrace a curious mind and be open to a lifetime to growth.
It takes a commitment to continue growing and evolving as a human being to be open to new information with a curious mind, and to use opportunities to change the way you think about something.
People grouped together are more likely to learn and evolve than someone in isolation. The actual learning may not take place whilst you are in the midst of the event, but rather afterwards, when you are discussing the event with someone or within a group setting. Together the event can be discussed and analysed and the learnings crystalised. By everyone congregating with a collective ‘growth mindset’, a powerful intention is being set to create and encourage a culture of openness, a willingness to do better and to strive towards continued growth.
This leads to the third point of note; learning, deep learning that results in a development of thinking, involves oscillating between doing and reflecting, between being subjective and being objective. Rarely do moments of great insight happen when people are doing the work. Most of the time, the significant shift happens in a rest period where the conscious mind allows the space for the insight to bubble to the surface. As I have touched on before, allowing time for this important process involves carving out time of ‘white space’ where there are no calendar events, where sitting and seemingly doing ‘nothing’ is allowed and respected. In these moments, great insight is given the time and space to boil to the surface.
In the words of Dr Seuss “The more that you read, the more things that you’ll know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”. So, keep on learning and don’t ever stop.
I specialise in bringing leaders together to collectively understand the importance of employee engagement and positive employee experience. Could your leadership team benefit from one of my tailored workshops? Please get in touch today. I’d love to help!