At Coro, we’ve been thinking a great deal about how to approach this challenging time with a lens that focuses on opportunity and possibilities. Though we all face real difficulties right now, we also have a chance to reflect and re-envision the kind of world we want to help create.
I was reminded of this recently, when a note from a Coro Alumna arrived in my inbox:
“I just had a little moment where I remembered the lessons of having a growth mindset. We have never done this before. We have never lived through a pandemic before. You have never parented during an extended school closure. I have never worked from home full time. I have never worn a face mask before! I need to remind myself that I am learning, and I am not an expert at this yet. I will (hopefully) get a little better at managing myself under stress. But I’m not there yet. I just thought I’d share with you all. You’re doing amazing jobs, whatever you’re doing, and whatever mistakes you think you’re making.”
— Dana Kleinhesselink, Director of Development & Communications at The Unity Council, Women in Leadership Fall 2019.
Dana sent this observation in an email to her cohort. Her message beautifully captures one of the tools Coro teaches in our Women in Leadership Program. Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset is a helpful way to frame our current reality, and our responses to it.
Here’s a brief overview:
Fixed Mindset assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens that we can’t change in any meaningful way. Striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs are ways of maintaining a sense of being smart, worthy, and skilled.
Growth Mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure or mistakes not as evidence of unintelligence or unworthiness, but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.
Using a Growth Mindset can make room for a positive and creative outlook in any situation. Growth Mindset gives us an opportunity to reflect on what can be improved upon in the future, and pushes us to continually learn from our experiences.
To help process this approach, here are some examples of how our inner monologues may sound — and how we might reframe them — right now:
If you find yourself in a professional or personal situation where things seem murky or messy, do yourself a favor and take a step back. As Masharika Prejean Maddison, Coro’s Senior Director of Training, often suggests, “reframe the scenario.” Highlight what you’ve learned or will do differently next time.
Want more information about this tool? Maria Popova’s article, Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives, provides deeper insights and is well worth reading (set aside 20 minutes).
Remember, professional and personal growth is a journey, not a destination. We’re all challenged in this moment. Growth Mindset is a wonderful way to remind yourself — and your colleagues and loved ones — that we can be gentle with ourselves and rise to meet the moment.
COVID-19 has changed how we operate, but we’re all learning — and we’ll get through this together.
As Coro’s Program Manager, Angela Pang works with the program team to deliver innovative leadership development programs, including Women in Leadership and Water Solutions Network. She also serves as Co-Chair of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Celebration Committee, which organizes San Francisco’s official celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month each May.