Recognising The “Man” In Mindset

We cannot change mindset, unless we change the mindset in a man (or a woman, of course).

By Pang Zijun, Facilitator/Implementation Consultant, Arbinger Singapore/Malaysia | December 8, 2020

We cannot change mindset, unless we change the mindset in a man (or a woman, of course).

This is not a tongue-twister; this is the ultimate truth of any kind of mindset shift effort, be it individually or organizationally – mindset shift is people-centric.

“This is common sense”, some may say. So, what’s the fuss?

Actually, there are some big fusses:

1. People change

It is true that people can change mindset from A to B, but it also means they can again change mindset from B to A, depending on their surroundings, choices, moods, physical health etc.

Assuming someone has developed a Growth Mindset therefore will always perform in a growth-mindset way is like assuming his/her Growth Mindset is fixed.

Sounds ironic?!

Even people who have predominantly a Growth Mindset, can have a Fixed Mindset in some aspects of his/her life, and have many Fixed Mindset moments. This is real life.

The activities to implement in a Growth-Mindset company, are not the activities that only Growth-Mindset people can execute – they should be the activities that are able to invite people to be more growth-focused.

2. People change differently

There is a huge difference between knowledge and understanding.

Another way to say this would be when people go to the same class but have different exam results.

Why is this a problem?

Imagine this conversation after a mindset change class: (Receiving feedback and criticism)

Tom: I am trying to understand the feedback I have received.

Bob: You should just think of what you can learn from others.

Tom: But I am still evaluating and trying to understand it.

Bob: Come on man, have a Growth Mindset!

Since when does Growth Mindset teach people to blindly accept feedback without evaluation and understanding?

Plus, is it Growth Mindset when people are expected to grow in the same way?!

Again, very ironic!

This reveals another problem, when not considering the “man” in mindset change.

3. It is not a mindset change at all.

Often, what we think to be mindset change is, at its best, a behaviour change.

By all means, download, print and post all the mindset change diagrams available on Pinterest, and let them guide us through the mindset change effort.

However, if those diagrams become our step-by-step go-to strategy when we don’t know “what to do”, chances are, we are only changing our behaviours.

The key to mindset change is self-awareness, rather than a behaviour guideline or execution user manual.

If we are to make any headway in our work with mindsets, we need to go beyond merely describing the behaviours, or symptoms, of, for example, the Fixed and Growth Mindsets.

We need to understand the causes behind them and allowing the “man” to flexibly explore what are his/her behaviours or symptoms when having that particular mindset.

Learning a new mindset, is like learning to understand anything.

From a performance’s view, it means people have the “ability to think and act flexibly with what they know” (look up Perkins and performance view of understanding if you want to learn more about this theory).

If you have been learning and implementing mindset change, the question for you is:

Have you missed out the “man” in mindset change?