Boost Resilience With a Growth Mindset
You’re beginning to prepare dinner when you get the phone call. You answer with anticipation, but quickly realize that the news is not what you were hoping for. Unfortunately, another candidate got the job. After the conversation you sit down, take a deep breath and allow yourself to be disappointed. It’s easy in this moment to focus on what went wrong. But this setback doesn’t have to be debilitating. What if you took time to reflect on how it could help you in the future?
Researcher and psychologist Carol Dweck has found that there are generally two types of mindsets that impact the way a person responds to challenges. A person with a “fixed mindset” believes their basic qualities are innate and unchangeable. When they don't succeed at something, such as a missed job opportunity, they assume there is nothing they can do ("I'll never be able to get a job like that") and the road stops there. On the other hand, a person with a “growth mindset” sees the setback as a learning experience, providing them with feedback they can use to evolve. They are more resilient and believe they have the power to shape their future by working hard and putting in effort. It's a virtuous cycle because those who feel in control tend to perform better and make more progress on their goals.
So what type of "mindset" do you have right now? It doesn't matter. What matters is that anyone can develop a "growth mindset" with practice, and your strengths can play a big role.
Everyone has a unique set of character strengths. In fact, there are over 5.1 million possible Top 5 combinations of character strengths an individual might have, and across the full rank order of character strengths from 1 to 24, the number of potential character strengths profiles is exponentially greater than the number of people living on the planet (Character Strengths Interventions, Niemiec, 2017). But, your unique profile is not etched in stone. Intervention studies are showing that you can target specific character strengths to boost and develop them.
This research is especially exciting when considering how this can help you develop a "growth mindset". In considering the example at the beginning of the newsletter, what strengths could be utilized to reframe the experience into a learning opportunity? Here are some ideas…
You realize now that you would have felt more confident during the conversations if you had more knowledge about the company. In the future, your strength of love of learning could be used to do more research on the open position and the organization prior to your meeting. Lesson learned! Additionally, you can exercise your prudence by using some of the questions they asked to help you craft better responses for other interviews. And don’t forget to tap into your strengths of hope and bravery to continue the hunt and put yourself out there when you find something that interests you.
Developing a "growth mindset" can start by simply looking for ways you can develop your strengths. And, if you are interested in a more guided approach to activating your strengths to overcome setbacks, consider taking our online, on-demand course Navigating Transitions. In this 4-module online course we’ll provide a framework to help you find balance during times of change and use your strengths to move forward in the right direction. Perfect for personal use or for practitioners working with others.
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Meet Dr. Ryan Niemiec at the Canadian Conference on Positive Psychology
Our Education Director will be giving a keynote presentation and leading a full-day workshop at the conference beginning May 23. Join researchers, organizational and business leaders, educators and practitioners from across Canada and the world to learn about the latest research and practice in positive psychology. Dr. Niemiec's interactive workshop will address three key questions: What is the latest science revealing about character strengths interventions? What is the difference between character strengths and talents, skills, and other types of strengths human beings have? How do I use the science of character strengths in my work as a practitioner?
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