What’s Your Mindset?

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One of my extracurricular activities for the last four years has been coaching soccer. Now that our team is U9 (nine years old and under, for those of you without kids), I’ve just about reached the final year of my pay grade. Until this point, the biggest difference in the players on our team has been mindset.

Some kids will play any position – goalie, midfield, striker – and others are very firm that they can only play one position, “I’m a left-forward.”

One player routinely asks me, “When is practice over?” Usually my response is, “We just started ten minutes ago, Zach.” (Zach’s not his real name, of course.) Other kids arrive early to start warming up and practicing – and they keep practicing until their parents drag them off the field for dinner.

When it comes to sports, it’s easy for us to agree that practice matters. But when it comes to communication, do you see practice in the same way?

Throughout the years, we’ve found that many of our clients have a fixed mindset about themselves as a communicator. You tend to think you’re either a  “good” or “bad” speaker, and that’s the end of the story.

But what if this isn’t the case? What if you believed that you could constantly improve, no matter your starting point?

Carol Dweck, Stanford psychologist and author of Mindset, describes the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset. When you have a growth mindset, you believe you can get better at anything with practice. You see opportunities for improvement as a good thing – not as a character flaw.

If you want to get better at communicating, you have to operate from a growth mindset. Great communicators are not born, they’re made.

This week, commit to doing at least one of these things to grow your communication skills:

  • Video yourself speaking and watch it back. Give yourself a 3×3. Pick out 3 things you did well and 3 things you want to improve.
  • Re-read your notes for an upcoming presentation and make at least 2 changes to make your content more audience-centered.
  • Amp up your emotional connection with your audience and travel up the vertical axis of the Communicator’s RoadmapTM by using a personal story to illustrate your point.

Shifting from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset can change the way you operate at work and at home; it can even impact the entire culture of a company as described in Jim Collins’ Good to Great.

Where does your mindset fall? Do you believe that your communication skills are static and “fixed” or do you believe that you can get better?

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