Jenny Kahn, Learning & Development Consultant

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So sail away from the safe harbour. Explore. Dream. Discover” Mark Twain

A mindset is much like a mental lens through which we view the world, which drives what we do and why. Mindsets are patterns of thoughts and behaviour, shaped and influenced by several factors such as our past experiences, temperament, learned behaviours and beliefs. Whilst mindsets help us identify opportunities, they might also trap us in self-destructive cycles. The good news is that they can be transformed.

When we have a fixed mindset, our lens can become very narrow. When we adopt a growth mindset our lens becomes wider, enabling us to have a more open, expansive perspective.

Renowned psychologist, Carol Dweck1 coined the concept of fixed and growth mindsets. She says that success comes from mindset– or the way people approach life’s challenges, rather than talent, education, and intelligence. People with a ‘fixed mindset’ believe they have innate and unchangeable intelligence, skills and abilities. People with a ‘growth mindset’ embrace challenges because they believe they can learn from experiences, develop skills, and improve if they practice and persevere – which can lead to greater achievement.

Some considerations for individuals to promote our own growth mindsets include:

  • Hear the fixed mindset voice – you do not need to heed it
  • See things with a different perspective
  • Recognise that you have a choice
  • Challenge your fixed mindset- is it true? What evidence might disprove this?
  • Take action - explore different ways, learn new skills, seek out information and support

Dweck believes organisations that embody a growth mindset, supporting employees to share information, collaborate, admit to errors, and seek feedback tend to:

  • Encourage appropriate risk-taking, knowing that some of these risks might not work out
  • Reward employees for important and useful lessons learned,
  • Support collaboration across boundaries rather than competition among employees
  • Demonstrate commitment to the growth of every employee through development and advancement opportunities; and
  • Continually reinforce growth mindset values with tangible policies

Are we aware of our own mindset and our fixed mindset traps and triggers which of those might get in the way of our personal development and growth? What are we currently doing and what might we do to encourage and adopt a growth mindset – for ourselves, for our teams and for our organisations? For more information and support in developing your growth mindset, please reach out to AccessEAP on 1800 818 728.


Jenny Kahn is a Learning & Development Consultant with over 20 years of experience in Organisational Development, Organisational Change and Career Transition. She partners with our customers to promote and enhance performance, productivity and wellbeing for individuals, teams, and organisations across diverse industries. She holds an MBA, Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) and has accreditations in coaching, facilitation, Hogan, FourSight and Lego Serious Play.

1 Source: Dweck, C. (2016). What having a “growth mindset” actually means. Harvard Business Review, 13, 213-226.

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