Grit and a growth mindset

Paulin Larsen Berglöf

Paulin Larsen Berglöf, Grit Consultancy

Paulin Larsen Berglöf is a solution and result-focused leader and coach. She has a passion for developing managers, employees and groups at both top and middle management level to achieve extraordinary and lasting results, something she has also done over the past 15 years. Paulin runs Grit Consultancy and shares in this article for HR2 Mentor her thoughts on the very popular subject: Grit.

Grit is a trait of character and entails driving force, perseverance and fighting spirit. It stands for passion, to stick to long-term goals, endurance and not to give up when facing adversity. I am convinced that goal-focused training creates the opportunity to achieve real results. An important component of building Grit is a so-called “growth mindset”. It means that intelligence is something that is developed, that hard work pays off, that one can develop and learn new things if one looks positively on challenges, takes advantage of criticism and doesn’t give up.

I often have an organisational perspective in what I do – and most certainly, my belief is that we need more of a “growth mindset” in all of our organisations which in turn helps to create a Grit culture. But it is not always the case that we all end up in organisations where this is self-evident. When does one’s own responsibility play in and what do I as an individual need to keep track of? On this, I thought I’d share a few sentences.

What we know is that people with a growth mindset are grittier. With a growth mindset one sees that intelligence can be developed, the learning process is important, feedback is seen as learning and one takes advantage of criticism. My picture is that we are mainly schooled in a fixed mindset where you view intelligence as something static. As a result, we avoid challenges because it is only the result that counts. Feedback is then being ignored because we only see that we are the ones we are, there’s no need for further development. We are characterised a lot by this mindset. I believe that a fixed mindset is what we naturally get stuck in. So, how can you expand to a growth mindset?

It has been shown that only by having the knowledge of the two mindsets and the realisation that our brain can actually be influenced and developed through effort has yielded great results. Starting to get a grip on what triggers a fixed mindset is a good start and the realisation that you actually have a choice. Feedback is central to a growth mindset and there is much we can learn from feedback. For decades, management consultants have been training managers in getting better at giving feedback, which is good, but that is not enough. Too little focus has been added to the one receiving the feedback. What are the obstacles we face when receiving feedback? Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone explain in the book “Thanks for the feedback” three triggers that can stand in our way: Truth, Relationship and Identity. Truth is about the fact that if the content of the feedback is not perceived as true, it may make you feel wronged, upset and unfairly treated. Relationship is about who gives the feedback and what the relation is to that person. Maybe the relationship is frosty, or the person does not feel credible. Finally, identity is about who you are and your values. If one of your most important values is to be loyal, and someone criticizes you for disloyalty, it can be sensitive as it contradicts how you see yourself. If, on the other hand, you get feedback that you have been disorganised, and being organised is not as important to you, it won’t be as sensitive.

All three triggers can make it difficult to continue listening and registering what is said. There is a risk that we will shut down. As mentioned above, this thing with criticism is complicated. We need to be aware of it both in the organisation and in person. In theory, we understand that feedback is good for our own development but there is a bunch of obstacles that can stand in the way for it to go through. But the fact is that regardless of whether the person who gives feedback delivers it badly and your triggers kick in, you are still the single most important factor for your own development. If you have decided to take advantage of the opportunities given and learn from the feedback you receive, no matter how it is delivered – then, in my opinion, it is guaranteed to be a benefit. If you are not open to learning from your mistakes, you will not succeed, even if you have the perfect conditions to do so!

In addition to taking advantage of these opportunities, I see great potential by learning from one’s own self-reflection. Thinking about what worked well, what could have been done differently and finding triggers for continuous learning. Short and good systematic self-reflection. Studies (Giada Di Stefano) show that as little as 15 minutes of self-reflection at the end of the working day, increases the performance by 23% compared to those who continue to work without reflecting! My goal is for more organisations to want to build and develop a Grit culture. A culture where we get better at rewarding the effort and learning instead of just focusing on result and success. Grit Consultancy is built on the belief in pronounced and clear goals, focus and effort, continuous and clear feedback, as well as repetition with reflection to then develop and refine further. My ambition is to encourage customers to be able to take advantage of opportunities, solve problems and reach their desired goal.

Do you want to learn more about Grit? Visit Paulin’s webpage here. If you want to work more with continuous feedback and self-reflection, contact us!


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