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Why a Growth Mindset is Harder to Develop and More Important Than Ever


In an era marked by rapid change and complexity, growth mindset has emerged as a vital tool for navigating the challenges and opportunities of the modern world.

Martin Ford aptly states, “The future of work will stretch and ultimately exceed the capabilities of our DNA.” This sentiment echoes the necessity of embracing a growth mindset, characterized by a willingness to change, innovate, and face failure head-on. Such a mindset is crucial in countering complacency, resistance to change, and the hurdles of digital transformation.

“Safe to Great” by Skip Bowman brings to light four significant ages reshaping our world. The Globotics Age, where AI and smart machines bring both risks and rewards; the Green Age, demanding a swift shift in energy practices for environmental sustainability; the Caring Age, focusing on human-centric collaboration amidst an aging population; and the Digital Enlightenment, tackling online exploitation and the challenges of deep fakes.

Thriving in these ages requires evolving beyond our inherent capabilities and outdated institutional frameworks, advocating for personal, organizational, and societal transformations towards growth mindset, commitment-based cultures, and trust in the digital age.

The modern workplace, as described by Professor Lynda Gratton, further compounds these challenges. Workers face task fragmentation, reduced attention spans, and a tendency for superficial engagements, leading to isolation and a lack of reflective learning.

Gratton’s insights align with Bowman’s concept of “cognitive overload,” where an information deluge overwhelms our cognitive capacities, stifling creativity and decision-making. This, coupled with “collaborative overload,” underscores the difficulty of nurturing a growth mindset amidst constant collaboration and fleeting relationships.

Confronting these challenges, two major forces act as barriers to a growth mindset. First, our DNA-linked preference for a protective, controlling leadership style, which prioritizes safety over innovation, hinders growth and learning. Second, the VUCAH world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity, and Hyperconnectivity) stretches the change capabilities of individuals and teams.

Overcoming these obstacles requires a deliberate shift from a mindset of control to one of flexibility, curiosity, and resilience. Leaders and organizations must foster environments that promote experimentation, embrace failure as a learning opportunity, and support continual adaptation.

Incorporating a growth mindset into our lives is essential for thriving in these transformative times. It demands moving beyond genetic predispositions and traditional models, embracing uncertainty and complexity as opportunities for innovation and growth.

By doing so, we can transform challenges into catalysts for development, creating environments where learning, adaptability, and resilience are celebrated. This approach is crucial for unlocking the full potential of individuals and teams in our complex, modern world.

Back to the Ultimate Guide to Growth Mindset

Skip Bowman, keynote speaker on psychological safety and growth mindset

Skip Bowman

Author of Safe2Great, keynote speaker on psychological safety and growth mindset

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