Hi, I’m Sam. I’m a safety professional and I have a fixed mindset.
Step 1: Admitting you have a problem.
What do I even mean when I say, ‘fixed mindset?’ That’s the question I started asking myself about 6 months ago. Prior to that, if someone asked me whether I had a growth mindset, I’d have said a big “YES!” Sure, I’ve got a growth mindset. I’m open to new things, I enjoy learning, I like to read. Yeah…that's me.
This is where the plot thickens. I've come to realise that making the proud self-assertion that I have in fact made it to the psychological promise land isn’t enough. That’s my fixed mindset talking; my internal monologue wants me to believe that I’m already in a place of mastery when, in fact, I have so much more to do.
By simply recognising this, I’m actually one step closer to opening my mind and giving my mindset room to grow. A bit like a 5-step plan to curbing an addiction, I started with the first. I admitted that I have a problem.
I mean, what did I expect? I’ve spent most of my career working in the health and safety profession. I’ve never had any coaching, nor have I worked for anyone who has been coached. From day one, I’ve had a number of principles drummed into me:
Avoid feedback at all costs.
Escape. Run. Write notes that include tons of excuses. It’s always personal. “Sam, can I give you some feedback?” Translation: “Sam, you’ve made a massive error and I am about to let you know just how much trouble you’re in."
Vulnerability is just a fancy word for weakness.
Don’t try to open up. Don’t get caught out. The people around you will exploit any ounce of fear or uncertainty you show, so make sure they can’t sense your fear. Conversations in business always end in some sort of conflict anyway, so why give anyone an open goal?
There is such thing as a stupid question, and you don’t want to be the one asking it.
I like to learn but a little bit like a scattergun. As safety professionals, we aren't used to admitting that we don’t have all the answers, so we become obsessed with being the experts in the room. We never really focus on a journey of improvement or exercise enough vulnerability to admit that we have areas of growth that need professional attention.
So, what happened 6 months ago that made me question my fixed mindset? I joined a learning and development consultancy called Acre Frameworks and since then, I’ve been surrounded by a team of people who coach for a living and who talk openly about what it means to give tangible feedback. They exercise vulnerability and talk more about personal development and areas of growth than comparing strengths like a weird game of self-indulgent top trumps.
Anyway, I’ll get to the point. It’s okay to not have a growth mindset. We aren't all born with one. It's like a muscle you need to exercise. It can improve with time. The working world isn't exactly designed to organically promote one – we're all told from a young age that it’s ‘a dog eat dog world out there.’
So, what have I accomplished by taking my first step?
I now have access to coaching. My first area of focus is feedback: being better equipped to deal with it, and taking a mindset of ownership and power, rather than being a victim.
I read the book Thanks for the Feedback by Sheila Heen which really put things into perspective. I now keep a journal where I log my thoughts. Every time I get feedback from a colleague or a client, I immediately write down how I feel in the moment and then attempt to rationalise what I can take from the interaction. I keep the useful parts and bin all the bits that don’t serve me. Treating feedback like data.
I'm starting to see genuine value in feedback; it's an opportunity to get better and improve. There really is an art to giving feedback and the more you can understand that, you quickly start to realise what type of feedback is coming your way – there is a vast difference between 'wrong spotting' and something useful.
From what I know of the Safety profession through my interactions over the last 10 years, and also through the work we do here at Frameworks, I know this will resonate with many of my peers. As a profession, we are being asked to change and to try different things.
I share these thoughts because I know there are many others out there who, like me, would benefit from taking this first step. If you’d like to know more about my coaching journey, get in touch with Sam Greensitt at Sam.Greensitt@acre.com.