Welcome to the first edition of my Intersections newsletter.
Within each of us is a space from where our best-self arises. I call it your inner core. My purpose in this newsletter is to help you pursue an ever-deepening attunement with your core on the inside and an ever-expanding expression of your core on the outside.
In the weeks, months, and years ahead, I hope to provide you with insights and inspiration to illuminate your journey in life and leadership. We will be building a community of like-minded seekers – people who are keen for a deeper understanding on the hard questions we encounter in life and leadership, and who recognize that before they can become the masters of the universe, they need to become the masters of their own selves.
‘Intersections’ is an apt description for my work, because I have always sought to draw from and interweave diverse threads of wisdom in my search for truth. In that spirit, you will find in this newsletter a fusion of science and spirituality, profit and purpose, East and West, inner and outer, and life and leadership.
Do have a look. In case you would like to unsubscribe, there is an option to do so at the top and bottom of this email. Otherwise, I look forward to being in your mailbox every Wednesday!
Some time back, I was typing furiously on my keyboard when I noticed that the letter “l” in one of the words showed up as an “i” on the computer screen. I deleted the error and retyped the “l” but again it came out as an “i.” So again I deleted and retyped, and again it turned out to be an “i.” I made a third unsuccessful attempt, and convinced that I was doing my job right, concluded the computer was at fault. I started to feel very annoyed with the state of computers these days. “Why,” I agonized, “do they make such faulty keyboards?” And then suddenly it dawned on me: My computer screen was dusty and I noticed a speck of dust located right on the stem of that “l,” making it look like an “i.”
When we are not getting the results we want — in our careers, our relationships with others, or any other area of our life — we often conclude that we need to work harder or change our behavior in order to obtain the desired outcome. And when even that doesn’t work, we may end up becoming deeply frustrated with the situation. But sometimes there is a “speck of dust” that is impeding our vision – a limiting mindset that prevents us from seeing the situation in a more objective light. When we unshackle ourselves from this limiting mindset, a change in perspective occurs and we start perceiving conditions and events in our lives with greater clarity and deeper understanding. Then naturally the right behavior, the right performance, and the right results will flow. Let us discuss six mindsets that are particularly important for us to cultivate in today’s rapidly changing world. They are called: Growth, Inside-Out, Transformation, Collaborative, Resilient, and Leadership mindsets.
The Psychology of a Fixed Mindset vs. a Growth Mindset
How much can you change your personality, intelligence or leadership capabilities? A favorite quote of mine from Henry Ford goes: “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t—you’re right.” This seems to suggest that if you think you can change, then you will change, but if you think you cannot, then you are stuck in place. Is this true?
Today, science is in fact showing this to be the case. People who have a “growth mindset” and believe they can change are more successful at changing themselves, versus those who have a “fixed mindset” and believe they cannot change. Why? Is this an act of God, that people who think positively about their capacity for change are blessed with change in their lives, while those who think negatively are not? What science is showing today is that your mindset affects your behavior, and this behavior then naturally leads to the right or wrong outcome.
Research shows that when you believe that any aspect of you is fixed—personality, intelligence, or professional capability— you are then less open to critical feedback on that aspect of yourself. You tend to become defensive, withdrawn, or uninterested when people give you feedback, believing it will not help the situation because “this is how I am!” You tend to be satisfied just staying within your comfort zone and do not want to take on new responsibilities that might challenge you in any way, because you feel there are certain things you are good at, that you were “born for,” and there are other things you are not good at. You tend to get discouraged when you fail at something, and assume that the reason is, “This is not me— that’s why I failed.” And that makes you want to stay away from this responsibility. When you are interacting with others, your fixed mindset will make you scan for ways in which you are better than them. That tendency to look for the flaws in other people in order to feel good about oneself is another telltale sign of a person with a fixed mindset.
Now compare that to a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset believe that their personality, intelligence and professional capabilities are not fixed. This belief then makes them hungry to learn and grow; they are receptive and open to feedback because they want to improve. They are not overly sensitive to criticism and do not reject it just because it was delivered in a manner that made them uncomfortable. Such people are open to stepping out of their comfort zone because they realize that they can learn a new skill. They might initially struggle and fail while attempting a new task; they might have some challenges to go through before succeeding; but they always come out whole on the other side, having developed a new capability. They are curious about looking not at other people’s flaws but their strengths, so that they can learn from others and thereby improve themselves. People with a growth mindset keep premature judgment at bay and keep themselves open to alternate possibilities by thinking, “We are all works in progress. Under the right conditions, we are all inspired to change.”
Growth Mindset Opens Up New Possibilities
How the growth mindset can open up new and unexpected possibilities, even in very difficult situations, is illustrated by the following story shared by a Secret Service agent who attended one of my leadership classes. He said: “One time my wife and I were sitting outside in the backyard of our home in Washington, D.C., when a robber with a gun broke into our property and walked over to us. With the gun pointing at me, he said, ‘I want you to go back into your home, get all the valuables—jewelry, cash—put them in this bag, and bring it to me.'" Continue Reading.
Here is a rewarding reading from The Atlantic on New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s distinctive leadership approach during the present crisis. One expert observes, “She uses the bully pulpit to cue society toward our better angels—‘Be kind to each other’ and that kind of thing. I think that’s more important than people realize and does trickle down into local attitudes.” This is a quality I see in great leaders - they are constantly striving to draw out their people’s best self. Make sure to go all the way to the last paragraph of the article, which provides a thought-provoking perspective on the road ahead.
Copyright © 2020 Hitendra Wadhwa. All rights reserved.
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