Imagine the power you hold, the opportunities you will unlock, the value you can bring to your life, and the joy and excitement you will feel by simply believing you can change and improve! Several scholars write about two distinct mindsets involving change, the important factors that affect the process of change, and ways to cultivate a mindset ready for change. Understanding these aspects will help to show that a growth mindset is a determining factor for change because a fixed mindset does not allow a person to see beyond his or her current circumstances.
One of the most common reasons for resistance to change is a fixed mindset. In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck (2006) writes about two distinct mindsets involving change: a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe individuals do not or cannot change due to their current situation or environment; therefore, they resist change (Dweck, 2006; Anderson & Anderson, 2010). People with a fixed mindset view change as scary because it is unknown so they find it difficult to see their desired future through the lens of their current situation. However, those with a growth mindset believe individuals can change by learning new skills, which can change characteristics and shape values over time (Dweck, 2006; Anderson & Anderson, 2010).
Further, one of the other most common reasons for resistance to change is confusion. Confusion could stem from being unclear about the goal of the change or what to change, lack of understanding of how the change will affect one’s life, or lack of knowledge about the change such as how to change (Anderson & Anderson, 2010). Additionally, this confusion can stem from not understanding or accepting the emotions that come with change. Simply stated, people emotionally react to change. As outlined by Kübler-Ross (1997), when change is introduced, even the passing of a loved one, there is natural emotional response that many people go through: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.
Therefore, several methods can and should be used to cultivate commitment and a growth mindset ready for change. First, asking questions is one of the best ways to get motivated and move forward when one does not know where to go, what to do, how to change, or when uncertainty and doubt come up. Educate yourself to motivate yourself; stay positively curious. Ask yourself, “What if…?”, and find someone that can support you in your change endeavors. Second, to go from resistance to acceptance, one must acknowledge, feel, and then release these feelings outlined by Kübler-Ross (1997). Without accepting and shifting beyond these emotions, people can get stuck in resistance. Lastly, to change behavior, one’s mindset also needs to change, which is one’s beliefs regarding the change (Dweck, 2006; Anderson & Anderson, 2010). Fullan (2011) offers four steps to improve one’s practice of change, which embodies a growth mindset:
1.) Self-assess your practice of change and results to identify gaps.
2.) Research successful changes in similar circumstances.
3.) Based on the above, try a new practice.
4.) From what works, create the new mindset, and continue the steps to learn and improve.
Simply put, mindset plays a significant role in people’s ability to move forward and shift with either grace and ease or a lack of capacity to grow and change. People who have a growth mindset believe that individuals can change, grow, and develop over time whereas people with a fixed mindset believe people do not change and tend to believe they cannot control their current situation or environment. By understanding these two distinct mindsets and the factors affecting the change process such as resistance, confusion, and emotions, a growth mindset can be cultivated that is ready and prepared for change. Accept change as a way of being.
Anderson, D. & Anderson, L. A. (2010). Beyond change management: How to achieve breakthrough results through conscious change leadership, 2nd Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from http://digitalbookshelf.argosy.edu/books/9781118837900/id/anderson8087c04-fea-0001
Deutsch, M., Coleman, P. T., & Marcus, E. C. (2006). The handbook of conflict resolution: Theory and practice. [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from http://digitalbookshelf.argosy.edu/books/9780470902028/id/ch8
Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY: Ballantine Books
Fullan, M. (2011). Change leader: Learning to do what matters most. [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from http://digitalbookshelf.argosy.edu/books/9781118837894/id/a9780470582138c03-fsmp-0002
Kübler-Ross, E., and Kessler, D. (1997). On grief and grieving: Finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss. New York, NY: Scribner