This is a transcript of the growth mindset webinar held on Wednesday 12 May as part of the Future You series
Host: Ellie Reynolds
Speaker: Rebecca Fielding, founder and managing director at Gradconsult
Ellie: So welcome, everyone. This is our second webinar in our Future You series. And today we'll be hearing from Gradconsult founder, Rebecca Fielding, as she explains all things growth mindset, Rebecca, over to you.
Rebecca: Fantastic. Thank you very much, Ellie. And thank you, everybody, for joining me today. As Ellie says, My name is Rebecca fielding, I'm the founder and managing director of Gradconsult a business I founded nine years ago. I'm also a fellow of the Institute of Student Employers and have spent the last 20 years of my career working in and around the world of early careers and future talent settings like placements, internships, and graduates, and indeed, more recently working with universities, so in and around that space, really, for the last 20 years.
But today, I want to speak to you about growth mindset. It's a huge topic and a really interesting one. I can't cover it all but what I want to do is to give you an introduction to the topic, and allow you then to follow your curiosity and find out more. So I'll be talking to you about 20 minutes. And then I'm going to leave 10 minutes at the end of the session for Q&A. You'll see in the Zoom chat, there's a Q&A box, please do pop any questions you have for me in there. I'll be addressing them in the last 10 minutes of the session. So what are we going to cover off today, we're going to talk all about growth mindset, what it's all about and why it's important to employers and to you in terms of your personal development, growth and career.
But I want to start with an experiment. I've checked this with Prospects and the Future You team, they've said it should be fine in terms of GDPR and compliance. And what I'm looking for in this experiment is a volunteer. So we have 730 people registered, and we've got several 100 watching today, I'm looking for a brave volunteer who can put their name forward. The first person please to put their name into the Q&A for me will be the first person that I'll be working with in this experiment. At the same time, Ellie if you could pop up our poll for us, please. And I would like everybody to answer the question for me. If you don't get your name, first of all, into the Q&A as our volunteer, I'd like you to answer the question. Nicole, Nicole Renteria. Nicole, you are our volunteer. Thank you for putting your name first into the Q&A. I'll come back to you shortly for everybody else. I want you to answer this question. Would you volunteer in this scenario? Yes, I'd be straight up there like a rat up a drainpipe just like Nicole. Yes. I'll be up there I don't know what it is but I'll give it a go. Maybe if I knew a little bit more sounds a bit scary. What is it? What you're gonna ask me to do? Thank you never not in front of all these people? There is no chance at all. What would be your response? Yes, I'll be straight up. Maybe if I knew a bit more, or no, thank you. Ellie is going to very soon show us the responses to our poll. How many people who responded early? And what's the response? Oh, there we go. Fantastic. So 12% say yes, I'd be straight up Nicole was just quicker on the keyboard than me. Maybe if I knew a bit more 60%. So most people are in the middle. And about 30% say no, thank you, I'll let somebody else take that risk. Not an unusual spread of results. Thank you very much for responding to the poll for us. That's really helpful. And for me, that little experiment gives us a beginning of an insight into mindset.
So Nicole, what have you volunteered to do? Well, in this instance the experiments very simple all you needed to do was put yourself forward and put your name into the Q&A box. And Nicole, if you can stay on at the end of the session, I'm going to give you a management book of your choice to be able to thank you for volunteering so congratulations and well done. Now, the question is, if I run that experiment again, how many of that 90% of people who said no thank you would say, oh well if it's that easy I'll put my name forward. I can write my name quickly that's no problem at all. And that's the key. The key is opportunities often look more scary than you think they're going to be and more difficult than you think you're going to be. It's about stepping into the unknown and having a go and putting yourself forward and being brave.
This experiment is our first opportunity to give you an insight into your mindset. So why didn't you volunteer? Or why wouldn't you volunteer, there's typically three kind of main things about why people don't volunteer for this kind of experiment. The first is fear, fear of the unknown, fear of being embarrassed, fear of not being able to do things or, you know, making a mistake in front of all the people. Second is obstacles, Nicole got there quicker than me, I wasn't sat by my keypad or I couldn't get to the screen quick enough or my ‘y’ letter isn't working at the moment, I couldn't find the Q&A, obstacles got in my way. And the third is simply motivation. Somebody else will do it, I've got other things that I'm doing at the moment, or I'm eating my sandwich. Fear, obstacles and motivation are frequently the things that hold us back from any opportunities in life and in work. And in your career, you're going to be presented with opportunities all the time, that might look a little bit scary, that might look a little bit complicated, that might look a little bit challenging, and you're gonna have these in your student life as well. And often, the fear of things and the obstacles we placed in our own place, are actually much bigger than the reality of the thing itself. And we can find ourselves looking at others and thinking after the event, I wish I'd done that, if I'd known it was that easy, I'd have gone for it. This is our first real introduction to self talk, and mindset, it's just a little experiment to bring to life, have a reflect and think about what it was that prevented you from volunteering, and indeed how that might play out in terms of putting yourself forward for other things and other opportunities in life.
This plays out because the way that we talk to ourselves, the things that we say, fundamentally affect our beliefs and our emotions and the things that we believe about ourselves, the things that we tell ourselves affect how we respond to any particular scenario. So in any particular scenario, we might say, oh goodness me no thank you I've tried that before and I'm not sure, I don't want to do it, or do you know what I'm going to give it a go why not put my hand up have a go, I'm gonna put myself out there and see what happens so that affects how we behave. And of course, the way that we behave and respond to any opportunities gives us a result and a response to a particular scenario. And what's interesting about the way that our mind works from a behavioural science perspective, is that the more that we do these things, the more they reinforce our beliefs often about ourselves, or about the world around us. And this is what mindset is all about.
So let's specifically look at growth mindset and the concept of mindset, because there's all kinds of interesting work around this field, agile mindset, abundancy mindset as well as growth mindset. I'm going to talk to you about growth mindset, but go and find out more. There's so much you can learn about yourself, and about how to use this in your world of work in your personal growth and development. What is mindset is defined by Carol Dweck, she's a professor from Stanford, she's the leading academic in this field of work. And growth mindset like many other fabulous management and leadership theories started in education. She was looking at how mindset and attitude impacts on for example, maths achievement, those people have a growth mindset, significantly outperforming those with a fixed mindset. She talks about this as a combination of things like your non cognitive skills, your behaviours, and strengths and your attitudes and traits toward life. So all these things that are affecting your mindset and attitude towards opportunities and towards learning and towards your own set of self beliefs about yourself as well.
Fantastic TED talk by Carol Dweck, by the way, if you want to find out more after today, she talks about it and phrased it and couched it in the terms of either a fixed mindset, or a growth mindset. And those people with a fixed mindset have a much stronger set of beliefs about, for example, failure and achievement. Whereas those with more of a growth mindset were much more open to hard work efforts. Looking at potential rather than things being fixed. So the way that I perform is based on whether or not I'm good at something or not versus I can learn something. And these are the kinds of statements that people with either a fixed mindset or growth mindset would frequently say to themselves in terms of the conversations they were having in their own head, when they were presented with opportunities, chances to learn projects, things that would stretch them or scare them a little bit, whether or not they stepped into it or not. So those were the fixed mindset had a much stronger belief that they're good at something or not, that they should be praised for their achievements and the achievements of other people were a threat to themselves versus those with more of a growth over abundancy mindset.
Very much seeing it as being praised for their efforts is what's important. that failure is that is the path to mastery and the way to learn and a perfectly normal thing, and that if they work hard, and they put the effort in, and they're focused on something, they can learn anything that can improve, they can get better at anything and, and their effort and that attitude really determines everything that they achieve in their life and their career. But by way of reassurance, for those of you who are thinking, well, you know, I can, I can have as much of a positive mental attitude as I like Rebecca, it's not going to get rid of the COVID pandemic completely. I agree with you. And I'm not by any way, saying that simply having a positive mindset or a growth mindset or attitude is everything. Having a can do attitude, no matter what can actually be quite harmful, both to yourself, and indeed to others. Some of you, some of you may have heard of the concept of toxic positivity. So we're not saying that a growth mindset is just about positive attitude. And it's not binary either.
So fixed, it doesn't mean that having a fixed mindset is bad. And a growth mindset is good. And in certain circumstances, actually having a fixed mindset can be hugely helpful. For example, if you want to work in risk or contingency management, you might need to wear what's referred to as Edward de Bono's black hat from time to time, if you were the contingency COVID plan for the disaster scenarios then having a more fixed mindset or a black hat scenario can actually help you identify risks more constructively. And it's not all about just business growth and profit there is a really good business case for growth mindset I'm gonna talk to you about next. But it's not all about that growth mindset, as a concept, and as a methodology is also just really powerful and helpful for your own personal development, self awareness and growth, and particularly within any job application process.
So why are employers interested in it? That's a very whistle stop introduction to it, because we’ve only got 20 minutes and it's a really fascinating subject, but go find out more.
Why does it matter to employers that? Well, these are the words of Satya Nadella. He's the CEO of Microsoft, and the fortunes of that business have been transformed since he became the CEO. Interestingly, he talks a great deal as to their people team, about recruiting for and developing for growth mindset within their organisation. And in this quote, he talks about that because of the volatility, the agility, the uncertainty, the complexity, the ambiguity of the world that we now live in. Expertise and experts have less relevance in a world which is constantly changing as expertise needs to be changed all the time. And your ability to be able to adapt to learn to grow continuously, is now one of the single most valuable aptitudes and abilities that any professional in the world of work can have, particularly for people like yourselves, entering and preparing for the world of work. That recognition that failure is the path to mastery that none of us know what we're doing are experts at the start of any process. But those that learn and become masters of a particular area, and particular specialism and expertise or behaviour area, do so through a process of mistakes, and learning and iteration.
So it's been adopted as I said it started in education growth mindset it was then as these things often are adopted over into the world of sports, elite sports athletes and coaching, looking at how they can adopt a growth mindset to their performance. And then it's come over into the world of business and we heard there about Microsoft, a lot of tech businesses have adopted this particular area. And we see, you know, in that area of innovation, and people, a lot of these areas of work tend to follow and flow out of there at the moment.
Delaney did a study back in 2014, that looked at the impact of growth mindset commercially within organisations. And they found the stunningly different set of results for organisations that had a higher abundancy of a fixed mindset employee base and those that had a higher abundancy of a growth mindset employee base, you can see the commercial impact of an employee base who have a higher growth mindset is significant, more innovative, more trusting, more risk tolerant, and willing to take failures to trust each other and support each other to be able to innovate, move more quickly, and genuinely creates an environment where people feel that they're able to bring more of their talent and their best to an organisation. So employers are interested in people who have more growth mindset traits, yes, for the commercial reasons, but also for those reasons, Satya Nadella talked about in terms of responding to the environment that we all now work in. So that's why employers are interested in it.
Lots of employers, we work with on their graduate development programs, intern and placement development programs are now not just looking at growth mindset in the recruitment process, but also in the development programs that they're running. So looking at how people respond to failure within a recruitment scenario, looking at how people respond in exercises in terms of their bounce back ability, their ability to pivot and change and think differently, but also their response to failure by asking things like interview questions, get this one, what is your most spectacular failure? Awful question, isn't it? The more you think about it, the more you think I don't, I really don't want to be asked that question in an interview. That's horrifying. Because it's got to be spectacular and a failure or I don't know what to do. But it's a fantastic insight to somebodies mindset. So that's the reason why being asked these kinds of questions and why it's important to employers.
So what can you actually do with it, I wanted you to walk away today with some thoughts about what you can actually do. Now, knowing a bit more about mindset where you can change your mindset, you can develop your mindset. And this is the process by which you can do that by becoming more self aware of your self limiting beliefs in your self talk, by working and practicing on developing and challenging that self talk and the behaviours associated to it and being prepared to lean in to failure to try new things, to learn, that is a continual learning process.
So how can we do that? Well, there are lots of different ways that you can do that, in order to develop your self awareness, you might want to go and take the growth mindset survey. Here's a quick QR code, we don't have time to do it today but if you want to take a quick picture of this you can or if you're watching it on the recording you can press pause now and take that little quiz, which will give you an insight into your mindset. There's also a much longer version of the quiz online if you want to Google it and find it. That's the very beginning of self awareness, though, is doing a little questionnaire like this. It's never black and white. It's simply an indication to get you thinking and questioning and heightening your self awareness about your own mindset.
So what else can you do? Well, you can think about your self limiting beliefs. here's just some of the most common ones that we find when we're working with people who are either students or in the early stages of their career. These are the things that people tell themselves, they believe to be fundamental tenants about themselves. I'm rubbish at Excel, I can't do that, I'm not a good presenter, I'm never going to be able to present, I don't do detail, I'm no good at maths. These are the kind of things just absolute statements said with certainty that people tell us about themselves, and they believe about themselves to be true. You may be looking at some of those now and thinking ‘Yes, I tell myself that’. I want you to ask yourself, why? Why do you tell yourself that? Because adopting a growth mindset methodology would suggest that those things those statements aren't true, you're simply not good at them yet. The power of yet.
You have to want to try and get better, you have to accept that you're not good at something to begin with. And failure is the path to mastery that if you want to get better at it, you can, and you will make mistakes along the way, and you're not going to be brilliant at it to start with. And that's okay. None of us were.
So challenging those self beliefs, thinking about why you believe that about yourself to be true, what experience you've had, what feedback you've had, who's told you? And why is their opinion of you so valid? Why have you given so much power over you to believe and define that about yourself? So explore your self limiting beliefs, challenge them, talk to people who care about you, ask them what they think.
Next is looking at your self talk. So changing and practicing that self talk from negative self talk, so I'm no good at it, it won't work, I haven't done it before so I can't that's a really common one. I can't do it because I've never done it before. Who says you can't do it? I believe you can do it you've got the skills and the attitude have a go, you might not be brilliant at it, but you can do it and certainly if you plan then you can do it. So you can challenge your thoughts. You can change your self talk from this to this. You can change the way that you talk to yourself. So yes, I've not done it before, but it's a great opportunity to learn. I can give it a really good go and my boss believes in me. So I'm going to have a try. I'm going to put myself out there from I'm too busy I can't do that to I choose to do that from I have to do this to I choose to do that. How many times have you said to yourself in the last month I'm too busy to go for a run, I'm too busy to go to the gym, I'm too busy to ring my mum. That is nonsense. You are choosing either consciously or subconsciously to make something more important than that other thing.
It's a choice. So again, self limiting beliefs and understanding the things that you believe and believe to be true about yourself really allow you to challenge and change your mindset from negative self talk to positive self talk, let's just do a quick thought experiment to bring this to life, I want you please to think about a big career goal. If you've got a pen and paper to hand or a notepad or something you can jot on or screen, I'd like you to think about writing down a big career goal right now. And for some of you that big career goal might be getting your first internship this summer, it might be getting yourself a job in the pandemic, when you graduate this year, it might be more long term, perhaps you aspire to run your own business. Think about what that career goal is. I want you to start by thinking about all the reasons why you cannot achieve that goal. And write those down.
This is that first screen that negative self talk, so why can't I get a job this summer, massive recession, all the internships have been taken away, loads of competition, no support from government, I haven't got location, I haven't got the money, I haven't got the personal connections, haven't got the social networks, haven't got the support, I've tried and tried and tried and failed. That might be your list of negative reasons that you've just written why you're never going to achieve that goal. I want you to take a moment, write them all down.
Okay. I want you to notice how you're now feeling about that career goal. And we’re going to change now, we're going to change to the positive self talk.
And turning that piece of paper over or moving down the sheet, I want you to write down all the ways in which you can achieve that career goal, all of the opportunities that you have all of the assets that you have available, who can help you. If that's about the internship this year, you can keep applying, you can do better research, you can ask for feedback, you can use networks, you can go back to the careers service again, you can do some practice, you can do some simulations, you can come to more sessions like this with Prospects, you can dedicate some time, you can ask friends and family for support for feedback for introductions for networks. There is so much you can do, write down all the things you can do, all the ways in which you can achieve that dream, that goal. All the ways you can do it. No ifs, no buts, no babies, we left all of that in the negative side of the piece of paper.
And now I want you to sense how you're feeling about that big career goal. I want you to recognise that whether you know you're doing it or not, you're having that conversation with yourself about your future all of the time in your own mind, in terms of your self talk, either you are talking yourself out of opportunities, and talking yourself down, or you are lifting yourself up and looking for the ways in which you can. Accepting that failure is that path to mastery, and things will get better and they will improve. It's about effort. It's about application. It's about continuous learning. Becoming more aware of your self talk and the impact it has upon us how we feel about things and ultimately those results in the outcome we get make all the difference.
So final thing is about embracing risk and failure applying some of this mindset methodology, for example, to your job search, making excellent job applications is a skill. It's a skill that can be developed, you probably weren't very good at it, the first couple of times that you filled it in, you might be getting a little bit better now. Just because you haven't been successful in the past does not mean you won't be successful in the future. Get feedback, see the careers service, get people to have a look at it for you, work hard at it, you will get better. A positive mental attitude is one thing, absolutely, but it must be balanced with effort. If you're looking for a job search dedicate time to it, it is not an easy process, it will take time, it will take several hours every week. Focusing time, energy and effort makes a big difference. When you're looking down that list of skills you might not have them all yet but look at the ones that they really need and look at the things you can learn and adopt that growth mindset that I'm not scared because I don't know that yet. Or I'm not good at that yet. I can learn. Outstanding employer research is singularly the biggest thing that will make you stand out on your application and in your job search. It demonstrates commitment, it demonstrates self awareness, emotional intelligence, making sure you're doing that is a huge part of success in your job search. It can feel hard to do that when you're in a fixed mindset place of what's the point in bothering doing the research because I'm never going to get the interview anyway. Clearly a self fulfilling circle. Doing the research gives you the best opportunity of getting the interview, not doing the research almost certainly guarantees you're never going to get one. Seek continuously to improve and get better.
That will take a short period of time for some people, it will take much longer for others. But if you continually adopt that learning approach, ultimately you will achieve and at the end of it, you only need one job offer. That's all you need. rejection is singularly the most expected and normal outcome of any job search. If you've got 79 applications for every one graduate role, then 78, people are going to get a rejection and one person is going to get a job offer. So when you put a job application in rejection is perfectly normal. It is no reflection on you. It might be a reflection of something you can learn about your skills and your knowledge and your approach so far. But that's perfectly normal doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. You have to keep telling yourself, I can learn from this, what can I take? How can I grow from this?
That's everything I wanted to share with you. I hope that has given you some insight. I'm conscious, we've only got a couple of minutes left and we've got loads and loads of questions. So I'm going to start taking some questions now.
I'd like to hear more about the fact that there are often economic factors related to the level of comfort regarding taking risks. Yes, Nicola, there are absolutely they can be very genuine obstacles. I myself had to do my last exam on a Friday when I graduated and I started work on the Monday and the first three months that I was in my graduate job I had to work three nights a week in a pub because I didn't have the family or the connections or the economic background to be able to have the luxury of a summer off. I'm not saying in any way. So one of those reassurances, I said is that you know, effort. And a positive attitude it’s not all about those things, of course, are a genuine barriers as well. Finding ways to work around them I think is helpful. And again, one of the things that I often encourage people do is if you want to do something, think about what you want to do. Do you want to do it, yes or no? Answer that question first, and then work out the how, how can I do that? How is that possible? Where can I get the money? How can I break down those barriers? What are the roots in for me? What options are available? Can I ask for support or help from the employer or from my university, if I don't have it in my familial background. So the how comes after the what. Often we focus so much on the how first, we close down the what to ourselves.
Any books you’d recommend to read? So many, I would start with Carol Dweck's book, it's fantastic. And then that will lead you on to a whole wealth of other fantastic stuff.
How could you relate the growth mindset to professional sports people? So a lot of professional sports people use it in terms of optimising their performance. So if they have a bad round, or a bad match or a bad point, I have to put that behind me and think about what I can learn from it and I can improve and get better. So that kind of marginal gains theory of continuous learning and adopting that.
What keywords should we look out for in job descriptions to see which organisations are operating with a growth mindset? Many of them will say, we're looking for growth mindset so that's a good one to look for. But I would also look for things like agility, abundancy and strengths is also a good one to have a look at as well. So strengths based psychology and strengths based recruitment very closely related in many ways to growth mindset.
How do I maintain my self belief throughout my daily life, even when I get knocked down or other people's words and actions affect me, I often take other people's energies, words or actions to heart and take them so personally, how do I remain strong in my self belief? That is a very complex and difficult question Shalini. One of the things that I would encourage you to do is to calibrate things that you think and feel and hear from other people, using people that love and care for you to test that say this, you know, this is the conversation I had today. This is how I felt about it. What do you think this resonated for me or it didn't work? What's your perspective? What do you feel? I think that is the kind of conversation which is really helpful to just help me calibrate whether or not you've got things in perspective, or our biggest fear for all of us is that we're just blowing things out of proportion, or being a bit neurotic or beating ourselves up. I'd encourage you to use those people that love you and that you trust, to help you make sense of and keep your self belief on track, but also moderate that with opportunities to learn.
We've got so many more questions, but we're out of time. It's half past and on the hour, I'm conscious, many of you will have jobs, commitments, families, and work that you need to get back to as well as lectures. I thank you all very much for joining me today. I encourage you to follow your curiosity and step into growth mindset to help you with your ongoing learning and development. I wish you all the very best for your continued success and career.
Ellie: Thank you so much, Rebecca. That was brilliant on behalf of Prospects it was really lovely to hear you speak and it just shows from all the questions that have come in how much that presentation meant to lots of people. So I hope everybody took great value from it, I'm sure that you did. And we'll be sending out the on demand version a little bit later in the afternoon so you can have a look through all the slides again, you can pause where you need, and then have a good look at then. Thanks again Rebecca it’s been a real pleasure. And thank you very much, everyone for joining us. Thank you.
Note on transcripts
These transcripts are produced using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. The audio version is definitive and should be checked before quoting.