The mind is similar to a muscle; the more you flex it, the stronger and fitter it becomes. Are you investing enough time flexing your mind?
Personal reflections on developing and maintaining a growth mindset.
In the early days of my career, I was constantly learning; everything was new, my role kept changing every six months and new technologies seemed to evolve every week. Yes, it was challenging, stressful at times but always rewarding and the more I learnt, the greater my thirst for knowledge. I was fortunate to work in a very fast-growing business which presented me with endless opportunities when I was at my peak in terms of professional ambition and energy. After I left the big corporate, I spent several years running a series of dynamic small businesses and trying my hand at leading a start-up. These experiences challenged me in different ways, and I continued to learn, mainly about my strengths and weaknesses as a leader.
I then went through a period when I stopped learning. I was tempted back into corporate life. Recognised as an expert and recruited based on my experience, that’s the role I performed. I leveraged my legacy knowledge and skills to deliver the business results my stakeholders required. I was focused on solving problems, developing other people and delivering work product. Although this was rewarding in a sense, it wasn’t helping me to continue my growth. It was my fault; I simply became too task-focused and neglected my development.
Thankfully, since I stepped away from full-time corporate roles, I have re-balanced my life and now make sure that I’m dedicating a good proportion of my time to my personal development and mental stimulation.
Mental Growth and Resilience.
In this context, one of the many books that I have read recently is by Ben Aldridge called “How to be comfortable with being uncomfortable”. It’s an easy yet fascinating read which describes how the author has chosen to undertake a host of personal challenges to help him regain his confidence and strengthen his mental resilience after suffering from anxiety. The challenges are mental and physical, ranging from quick mental puzzles to major, life-changing projects.
What resonates with me is the idea of deliberately setting myself challenges with the explicit intent of making me feel uncomfortable. I know I learn best when I am out of my comfort zone; nevertheless, it’s counter-intuitive to actively seek out these situations. However, inspired by Ben’s story, I have set myself some suitably “uncomfortable” challenges and look forward to learning more about myself.
Here’s a summary of Aldridge‘s 10 learnings from what he describes as his “Year of Adversity”:-
- Self-limiting beliefs – learn to identify them and understand how they can frustrate your performance
- Persistence – a vital quality to develop together with learning from failure
- Obsession – observe your behaviour, try to stay relaxed and flexible in your thinking
- Focus on achievement – engage your positive emotional attractor
- Big growth comes from facing your fears – this is where you can make great strides building your courage and developing mental resilience
- Look for the lesson – in every failure, success or period of adversity there’s a learning opportunity; use curiosity with an open mind to find it
- Everyone has something they are dealing with – sharing vulnerability makes us stronger
- Adversity role models – find your “Stoic” heroes and use them as a source of inspiration and instruction
- Feed the right wolf – you are what you eat; be conscious and intentional about your mental consumption, especially social media
- How to be comfortable with being uncomfortable – practice to discover how empowering it is to take the 1st step
For more information about Ben Aldridge, check out his excellent website: https://www.benaldridge.com/
“Mental resilience equips you for the chaos of life”, Ben Aldridge
If you would like some help developing a growth mindset please get in touch.