I was attending a conference recently where the keynote speaker was talking about fixed and growth mindsets. He asked everyone who had a fixed mindset to raise their hand and naturally I did.
I was the only one!
Which is crazy because we all have a fixed mindset. In fact the majority of our beliefs and attention are focused on supporting our current world view.
Don’t believe me? Consider these topics… Climate change; immunisation; diversity; feminism; evolution; the government; raising kids; your boss; or even what AI will do to your job. I guarantee you, like me, that you have a fixed mindset in most of these areas. Which is OK, because we can’t be growing in every area, at all times.
So how do we transition from fixed to growth in an area of strong belief?
Learn at the edges.
Take an area where your mindset is fixed and learn or read or consider the complete opposite edge of your current view. Or if your belief is middle of the road, read at the extreme edges of both points of view. As you approach the edges with openness, your views and beliefs will shift. Often not to the edge, but almost certainly from where it was.
Growth doesn’t come from focusing our attention narrowly.
Growth comes at the edges.
I wonder if the fact that I was the only person to raise my hand about having a fixed mindset, means that I was the only one who actually had a true growth mindset.
Because knowing where our mindset is fixed, is the foundation of true growth.
“Cask wine still exists!” I was surprised to say the least. I had been eating lunch with friends and they politely informed me that cask wine was still a thing. Not convinced, because I’ve never seen it at the supermarket, I decided to check it out the next time I went shopping and I was expecting it to be tucked away in some obscure place.
Well it turns out… There is an entire shelf for cask wine, who knew!
It shouldn’t have surprised me, because they are over 20,000 different items in many supermarkets, far more than our brains can keep track of. So as we walk around looking for the items on our shopping list, our brains shut out all the clutter so that we are not overwhelmed and can focus on what we need.
Our attention is focused only on what we want to see.
In our everyday lives, we are constantly ignoring most things that are counter to our world view.
To make matters worse, we subconsciously choose to only read or learn or engage with books and articles and videos that support our existing views.
All that leads us to make judgements and build beliefs that are not based on a full picture.
They are based on what we choose to see!
To finish my wine story. I’m a low-level wine snob and generally buy international wine, which is right next to the cask wine (See photo).
It was literally right in front of my eyes. Every … time … I went to buy wine.
Where we focus our attention … is where we form our view of reality.
Even if it’s not real.
Over and over again I have beliefs that are not based on fact. They are based entirely on where I historically focused my attention.
By not changing where I focus my attention, I become close minded.
Which doesn’t make me a great leader.
And makes me a lesser human.
Next week, big promise, I’ll share how ‘learning at the edges’ can help with our attention.