The path to learning agility begins by understanding your attitude, or mindset, toward learning.
There are two basic kinds of learning mindsets:
- In a fixed mindset, you assume that talent and intelligence are static and something you are born with. People with fixed mindsets see an individual’s success as a confirmation of their inherent abilities and failure as a sign of insufficient innate talent. Too rigid in fixed mindset is detrimental to growth since it belittled any effort which in turn turned the ‘fixed mindset’ into self-fulfilling prophecy.
- In a growth mindset, you assume abilities can be improved through self-awareness, hard work, and with the help of others. People with growth mindsets don’t focus on appearing smart or gifted. Instead, they put energy into learning, accepting occasional failure as part of the process. This will in turn lead to better and more optimistic future view regardless of current level or predicament.
Everyone operates with a mixture of the two types of mindsets.
Learning agility requires recognizing when you are operating with a fixed mindset and then making a conscious effort to switch to a growth mindset. This can be done by constant and consistent honest self-reflection and internal audits.
To adopt a growth mindset:
- Recognize when you’re avoiding a challenge or a sign of fear of failure or rejection. When you’re afraid you might embarrass yourself or fail, it’s sign that you’re stuck in a fixed mindset. Make a conscious effort to get over it!
- Realize you have a choice. You can retreat, or you can re-frame the challenge as an opportunity to learn. There are always choices and whether we are brave enough to take it.
- Have an inner dialogue. Use language that reflects a growth mindset—for example, instead of saying, “I’m not interested in learning how to use big data because I have never been good at math,” say “Learning about big data will help me improve my market forecasting skills, and I have coworkers who can help me if I have questions.”
- Deliberately switch to the growth mindset. Take on the challenge, seek feedback, and learn from setbacks.