A Change in Perspective


Stop!  Don't think.  Just note what you see when you look at this picture? Did you say faces?  Did you say a vase?  Can you see both?

Last week I talked about motivating the elephant (Heath & Heath, 2010) as a critical piece from moving from intention to action.  I still want to talk about motivating the elephant.  Last week the emphasis was on 'Shrinking the Action', so that the action from the intention didn't seem so overwhelming.  This week I want to flip that perspective.  Rather than using tool that help to 'shrink the action',  we can 'grow the person' (Heath & Heath).

Carol Dweck, an educational psychologist whose work examines how people cope with failure, suggests that "success" (that is, what a person defines as success) is understood according to one of two perspectives.  Try her quiz (Dewek, 2006, p. 13).

Look at these statements about personality and character and decide whether you mostly agree or mostly disagree with each one.

1. You are a certain kind of person, and there is not much that can be done to really change that.

2. No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially.

3. You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are can't really be changed.

4. You can always change basic things about the kind of person you are.

Questions 1 and 3 are associated with a fixed-mindset. If you agreed with these questions, you might see the world through a fixed-mindset lens.  A fixed-mindset is a set of beliefs that views qualities to be 'fixed' or is something that you are born with and can not be changed.  People with a fixed-mindset are motivated by the need to constantly prove themselves.  Each action essentially becomes a test, an evaluation, and an opportunity to prove their talent.  "Will I succeed or fail?  Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser" (Dweck, 2006, p. 6).

Questions 2 and 4 are associated with a growth-mindset.  If these questions were judged to be more true for you, this is your world view.  This lens is exemplified in the following quote:

Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.  Author Unknown

With a growth-mindset, a person believes that traits and abilities can be cultivated and developed through efforts. It is the perspective that attributes, skills, and abilities change and develop with time.  Without constant effort, a person's basic characteristics can diminish (use it or lose it) or stretch and grow.  Failure is not threatening to growth-minded individuals.  Like Michael Jordan states

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

Motivating the elephant, therefore, can be accomplished by taking on a 'growth mindset'.  The action that is desired from an intention can be viewed as simply the opportunity to grow.  With this type of mindset, success or failure, there is growth.  You win either way!!!  If I know that simply trying the behaviour means that I win, I am more likely to turn that intention into an action. Would you too?