Prisoners of assumption
Professor Carol Dweck’s work on fixed and growth mind-sets is a valuable resource for helping us see how we can continue to develop ourselves and others. Persistence, curiosity, a willingness to keep exploring and trying (even if we fail) – characteristics of the growth mind-set – are valuable assets in leadership and life.
And yet there’s something else I think we have to overcome and help others to do the same.
One of the biggest challenges to us making progress as human beings, to our personal growth, is the power of our assumptions. They hold us in place, and back. In obedience to rules that may be real but are often imagined, or at least conflated from past experience.
Often I come across highly capable people who can’t move forward because of these ‘rules’. Instead they wait for permission to take a step forward or do something different to the way it has always been done. Worse, they fail to ask permission, assuming that it won’t be given and that the existing ‘rules’ will apply. More often than not this isn’t so but the challenge never comes.
Individually, if we’re failing to sift what really is the boundary from the one we’ve constructed in our minds and experience, if we’re not asking the questions to test what’s real and what isn’t we’re keeping our creativity and our potential locked away.
And if we’re not cultivating an environment where people actively test the boundaries and themselves, we’re colluding in keeping their fullest talents and possibilities locked away too. Or is that an assumption?