Category: Mindset

How you can build skills and grow using your mindset: Mindset part 4

This is the last part in a four-part series of blogposts on mindset. In part 1 (Mindset – The book) Nicole and I summarized the book “Mindset”. In part 2 (Looking Back on Perfection and Burnout), we talked about how we suffered from our fixed mindsets. In part 3 (Dealing with mindsets), we shared stories on how we dealt with our mindsets. In this last blogpost we want to help others deal with their own mindset. We share how you can find out what mindset you have and how can you change a fixed mindset into a growth mindset.

We know that mindset is important. A growth mindset is the key to success and more happiness. Or as learner lab taught us “Skills are built, not born.” People are designed to continuously improve! Absolutely everyone has the capacity to be better at virtually everything!

Growth mindset makes you a better and happier person

Research shows that if you have a growth mindset you will be more self-confident, you will allow yourself to make mistakes, you will ask for help more and you will believe it’s okay not to know something. This helps you to be a better learner because you will actually be learning from the feedback and criticism you receive. You also learn to deal with setbacks and you will not give up as easily. This makes you more resilient, will reduce stress and will help to improve relationships because contact is deeper. All of this will make you a better and happier person.

So, what about you? We advise you to learn about mindset. After that, do an introspection to learn about your own mindset. With this knowledge you can deal with your mindset and take steps to change it.

Learn about mindset

First and most important: read the book (or our summary here). The book is easy to read and contains many examples that will give insight in how fixed and growth mindsets work. These visuals also give a bit of understanding about how fixed and growth mindsets work:

Graph by Nigel Holmes (

Graph by Learner Lab (

There are also many videos you can watch. On the website of Mindset Works you will find a page full of links to amazing videos.

One of the most important things to take away while learning about mindset is simply the fact that traits are not fixed and that you can, in fact, teach an old dog new tricks! We are not born with a finite amount of intelligence, a fixed personality, or a certain amount of artistic talent. Everyone can change and grow – and that opens up a world of possibilities.

Determine Your Mindset

After learning about mindset, it’s time to determine your own mindset. Which mindset do you have? Remember that mindset can differ in different situations. It is perfectly possible that you have a growth mindset in one situation and have a fixed one in other situations. Our mindsets are constantly shifting and changing. There are several tests online you can take to help you gain insight. On the website of Mindset Works, you can find this one. In the book you will find a test too:

Answer these questions about intelligence. Read each statement and decide whether you mostly agree with it or disagree with it.

  1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.
  2. You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are.
  3. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it quite a bit.
  4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.

Questions 1 and 2 are the fixed-mindset questions. Questions 3 and 4 reflect the growth mindset. Which mindset did you agree with more? You can be a mixture, but most people lean toward one or the other. Now 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.”

Here, questions 1 and 3 are the fixed-mindset questions and questions 2 and 4 reflect the growth mindset. Which did you agree with more?

(Source: Carol Dweck. “Mindset – Updated Edition: Changing The Way You think To Fulfil Your Potential)

Changing your mindset

“The key to changing your mindset lies first and foremost in self-awareness”, says Scott Jeffrey of CEOsage, who published a great self-help guide called “A Complete Guide to Changing Your Fixed Mindset into a Growth Mindset“. And we totally agree. We suggest you to begin writing things down on a regular basis, a process called journaling. In this blogpost written by Huib you find more information about reflection and journaling. How do you react in certain situations? What do you feel? What is the inner dialog going on inside your head when a particular situation arises? Write down your observations. It helped us to recognize patterns and feelings.

In our experience after finding out about the importance and influence of mindset, we dealt with our mindsets better. Also learning about neuroplasticity made us see that there is a way to change our mindsets. It is important to do an introspective to find out in which situations your mindset is fixed and not helping you. It opens up possibilities to change and grow.

Step 1: in the book Dweck advises us to accept that we all have both mindsets. The first step is to recognize and embrace your fixed mindset.

Dweck suggests to give the persona a name. And we think it is actually a good idea we had never thought of. Huib named his fixed mindset “Randall Flagg” after the villain from Stephen King’s book. Also as a pun to flag when his fixed mindset pops up. Nicole named hers “Marie”, which is her middle name. It helps remind her that her fixed mindset is always there, waiting to appear.

Step 2 is to learn what triggers our fixed mindset. Failures? Criticism? Deadlines? Disagreements? When is your fixed mindset a problem? Understand what happens to you when your persona shows up. Learn about yourself, your feelings and the fears that activate it. As you come to understand your triggers and get to know your fixed mindset persona, don’t judge it. Just observe it.

Step 3 is to recognize that you have a choice. Remind yourself that it is “just” fear. Your beliefs and your thinking are sabotaging your growth and giving you stress. When you recognize your fixed mindset, remember it is just a mindset. And mindsets can change. Accepting your fear will make it easier to deal with it.

Your brain can change due to neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to undergo changes. Research shows that many aspects of the brain can be altered (plasticity means changeable) even through adulthood! Actually, our brain is built to change. By practicing, you can change the pathways in your brain. Watch this video or read this article to learn more.

 Step 4: the last step is to switch to a growth mindset when those triggers occur. Here it is key to understand that it is all about how you think. Your belief is the most important factor. Focus on what you learned about mindsets. Hold the belief that you can change your mindset. Learner lab taught us: to build a growth mindset, focus on the belief, and the actions will follow. Challenge the fixed mindset persona by asking questions to guide your thoughts. Open yourself up to growth. Take small steps. Don’t expect too much and realize it will take time and effort to change your mindset. Experiment and try different approaches. Find a way that suits you.

Scott Jeffrey made a great list of questions that might help you activate a growth mindset:

  • What can I learn from this?
  • What steps can I take to help me succeed?
  • Do I know the outcome or goal I’m after?
  • What information can I gather? And from where?
  • Where can I get constructive feedback?
  • If I had a plan to be successful at [blank], what might it look like?
  • When will I follow through on my plan?
  • Where will I follow through on my plan?
  • How will I follow through on my plan?
  • What did I learn today?
  • What mistake did I make that taught me something?
  • Is my current learning strategy working? If not, how can I change it?
  • What did I try hard at today?
  • What habits must I develop to continue the gains I’ve achieved?

When you are facing a problem or situation that you are trying to apply a growth mindset solution to, Dweck suggests to make a concrete plan: “These concrete plans (plans you can visualize about when, where, and how you are going to do something) lead to really high levels of follow-through, which, of course, ups the chances of success.” Once you have that plan, stick to it.

Change is hard

Remember that change is hard. We make changing your mindset sound easy on paper but like any other change, it is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight. You will have setbacks. The key is to approach these setbacks using your growth mindset: what can you learn from them? What will you change the next time you are in the same situation? Adjust your growth plan as needed. You will also have successes. Learn from them as well! What can you take away from them to continue to grow? Keeping setting goals for growth. If one approach doesn’t seem to work, readjust and try another.

Keep at it. As Dweck says, “Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It’s about seeing things in a new way.” Keep taking the growth-oriented action. Eventually with time and repetition, it becomes habit. Changing your mindset takes effort, but it will open up all sorts of doors to new opportunities.

We love to hear from you

Good luck working on your mindset. We are curious to learn how it goes for you. If you want to share your stories, need some help or just want to talk, let us know. We are happy to talk to you! Find us on Twitter (Huib and Nicole) or LinkedIn (Huib and Nicole). Start today, don’t think it will get better by itself. Because it won’t. It requires work. A lot of work. But it will make your life a whole lot easier. If you need some support in your journey, just reach out.


Dealing with mindsets: Mindset – part 3

In our first blog post in this series on mindset Nicole and I summarized the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck. In the second blog post “Looking Back on Perfection and Burnout” we shared our personal history with growth and fixed mindsets. This blog post we talk about how we dealt and currently deal with our mindsets. We also talk about how we changed the way we think. 

Nicole’s story:
When Huib suggested that in the third part of our blog post that we talk about how we started to change our mindset, I knew that it was going to take a bit of work and a lot of reflection. The shift in mindset for me was not necessarily a conscious effort until, of course, I read the book. For me, the shift started with a burnout…and with therapy.

As I mentioned in the previous blog post, I used to work in a forensic crime lab. The training I went through was intense – they make it harder than it really is because then you are prepared for everything that might come your way. But looking back, I think that training exacerbated my already perfectionistic tendencies. I had to do everything right or a case might get thrown out. I put a lot of pressure on myself to not make any mistakes. As you might imagine, this caused an intense amount of anxiety in my life. There were days I had to go down to my car in the parking lot to just get away from work for a bit. While I was in the car, I would break down and cry. At some point, I realized that this wasn’t healthy – I couldn’t go on living my life like this. I needed to make a change.

At the same time, I had started going to therapy. This was not the first time I had been in therapy – I had been in it in the past to deal with some issues with relationships in my life. But this time I was in to try to deal with my anxiety – I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and started medication in addition to the therapy. One of the most important things I discovered during therapy was my need for people’s approval. I held the belief that everyone should like me. The most profound insight and driver in the change in the way I thought was a simple question posed to me by my therapist: “Do you like everyone?” And of course, I said no. To which she said, “Of course not. And not everyone is going to like you.” That message struck a chord and has stuck with me. There’s no need to try to prove myself to people, or even to myself. Trying my best and doing the right things in life were all I needed to do. I won’t say that I don’t still think about people’s approval – as with anything, it is a life-long learning curve. But I sure care less about it now than I did back then. I think that was the first step on my journey of shifting away from a fixed mindset.

The second step goes back to that change I said I needed to make in my life. I decided to go back to what I originally wanted to do in life, my true passion: work with animals in some capacity. So, with the help and support of my partner, I changed my hours at the lab to part-time and spent the other half of my time volunteering at the local zoo. Soon that transitioned into a part-time zookeeping job that eventually led to the job I’m in now – a combination of computers and animals, two of my favorite things. I love my job. And I think part of the reason I am not afraid to fail and take on challenges in this job is because of how much I love it. I know I have room to grow and I want to continue learning. Instead of worrying about negative feedback, I seek out feedback so that I can learn what I need to improve upon. I think finding something I truly enjoy was instrumental in starting to move towards a growth mindset and leaving the negative parts of perfectionism behind.

The “last” step of course was reading the book Mindset. Learning about mindset – putting meaning to what it is, what it drives, where it comes from – brought everything together. This lead to the awareness of having a fixed mindset in certain situations, but a growth mindset in others. My mindset change is still very much a work in progress. But now I have the advantage of knowing that it exists and am learning what things tend to trigger my fixed mindset so I can work on taking on those situations with a growth mindset instead. I think at one point in time I would have said that there are certain things you can’t change about yourself – perfectionism being one of those things. But now I think while my perfectionism may never go away, I can change how it drives and affects me. I think you can strive to be your best, and even strive for perfection, as long as you realize perfection is impossible to achieve. But it can motivate you to work hard and aim high, as long as you can use your setbacks and failures as learning experiences on the path to get better. I think that is what having a growth mindset is all about – being willing to take risks and embracing challenges in order to learn, grow, and become better. I look forward to seeing where my growth mindset can take me. 

Huib’s Story:
Changing your mindset is hard! But it starts with recognizing that your mindset is getting you into trouble in the first place.

My journey in dealing with my fixed mindset started when I was 27. Before that, and especially in my teens, I had many depressions caused by low self-esteem and making myself crazy with thoughts. My father and his partner took me in their house when I had my burn-out in 1997. I stayed with them for 3 months and took my first steps in adult therapy and dealing with my mental issues. I got therapy from a nice psychologist who helped me recover from my burn-out. I didn’t let him too close because I was afraid of what would surface and thus, nothing really changed. After a while gradually my old thoughts and behavior came back.

When I grew in my career into lead roles and later into management positions, I ran into more problems. I became responsible for the work of more people and my perfectionism made me feel bad if they underperformed or did not succeed. I wanted others to not make mistakes and by mentoring and coaching them, I tried to help them – sometimes literally inflicting help upon others. I struggled with self-esteem and my mind was always busy. As a pretty emotional person, I had to deal with my emotions. But I felt that emotions were stupid: I told myself I shouldn’t be influenced by them. So I was hiding my emotions constantly. I fooled myself that it’ll go away on its own when I knew it wouldn’t. I’m good at making others believe that I’m okay.

Because I knew how to recognize my dips, I didn’t become as depressed as I used to before my burn-out; a sign that I was learning. I had a sort of periodic cycle of being too busy, stressed, and taking on too much work that caused me to not sleep very well. Because of not getting enough sleep, I wasn’t able to control my negative thoughts, which made it worse and got me even less sleep. After a couple of weeks, I would be drained. I often would call my doctor to get some sleeping pills. This would help me sleep well for a week or two and that was just enough to get my thoughts under control before sliding into another burn-out or depression.

This went on until I became manager at a bank, where I ran into trouble when things would get difficult. I couldn’t deal very well with resistance or situations where things didn’t go the way I wanted them. I had trouble dealing with feedback and I became defensive quite fast. If people would ask a lot of questions about my proposals, it felt like I wasn’t clear enough and I blamed myself for this. My manager recognized this was happening and he suggested coaching. My coach helped me a lot with dealing with resistance, reaching goals, dealing with emotions, being okay with not knowing stuff, and acting less defensive, amongst other things. My coach recommended me to take therapy and deal with my underlying problems. He was right, deep inside I knew that, but I got scared and stepped away. I told myself I didn’t need to work on my myself anymore since things at work had improved quite a lot.

In 2015, I got an assignment as an interim manager at a financial service company. I had a huge team of 100+ people with too many direct reports. It was a challenging organization with a toxic management culture. I worked extremely long days because I wanted to prove myself and at home, I was preparing meetings for the next day. After a two-week holiday, I came back to work with my battery not fully charged and a new burn-out was approaching fast. I hit the brakes just in time, so I recovered in a couple of weeks instead of months. In my recovery, I went to see a haptonomist. She helped me recover from the burnout and after that, I stopped seeing her. A year later I went back to her because I needed to get rest in my head. I was getting sick and tired of always being busy and not being able to turn my head off. I tried mindfulness, and of course people recommended things like meditation and yoga, but that didn’t feel like it was something for me. I told myself it was too vague and wooly for me. My haptonomist taught me to sit still and do nothing for a while. After working with her, I was able to just sit and not react to anything happening around me.

Being able to do that helped a lot and I felt strong. Until a while later the cycle started again: too much stress, bad sleep, etc. So finally in 2019, I took a big step in dealing with my issues (see: blogpost “mastering my mindset“). I finally was done with my mental issues and ready to face the underlying problem. So I decided to go for therapy. I wanted to learn how to deal with my insecurity, my fear of failing and to get rest in my head. Looking for a therapist, I wrote down my issues and the things I wanted to change. I also wrote my “mental resume” with the issues I dealt with in my life and what I had done to overcome them. This gave me a lot of insight into myself. I saw a pattern of dealing with symptoms instead of dealing with the real problems, running away when things got too hard, and a lot of fighting. Fighting with myself, but also fighting and pushing other people, which had brought me problems several times in my career.

My therapist made me work hard and I reflected on many things. I learned that mainly it was my (negative) thoughts that were getting me into trouble. Reading the mindset book helped me understand where my fear of failing came from. In therapy I learned where my problems come from and I got enough insight to work on them. I learned to accept myself as I am and to let go of the past. I know what I still have to work on in myself in the future to reduce my fear of failure.The most important lessons for me are: being authentic is important. It saves a lot of energy if you can just be yourself. Emotional intelligence is key to dealing with your mindset. It helps understanding, expressing and managing emotions. I had to change my thinking and behaviour and in doing this, I ultimately changed my mindset. I am working on being vulnerable more often and showing empathy to build trust and relations which helps me to be a better teacher and coach but also a better person.

These positive emotions help me to think more clearly and be more present. I became a better listener, showing more interest in others, asking better questions and being more open to learning about others’ experiences. I am more self-aware and that is a good starting point.

“You have to name things in so many words. Something must be allowed to exist first and then leave it behind.”
(Griet op de Beeck in Dreamschool)

How do you find out what mindset you have and how can you deal with a fixed mindset? In our next blog post we will talk about that.

Looking Back on Perfection and Burnout: Mindset – part 2

In our last blog post Nicole and I summarized the book “Mindset – Changing the way you think to fulfill your potential” by professor Dr. Carol Dweck. In this blog post we share our personal history with growth and fixed mindsets. How we currently deal with our mindset and how we changed the way we think, is the topic for our next blog post.

Nicole’s story:
Looking back to my school days, probably from early primary school all the way through undergraduate college, when it came to my education, I had a very fixed mindset. I think the same was true when I played sports, which was mainly in secondary school. It was about getting good grades and winning the game. While reading Mindset, I reflected on this and where my mindset might have come from. Was it my parents? Teachers? Coaches? Dweck talks about the types of praise we give children – she says “Praising children’s intelligence harms their motivation and it harms their performance.” Instead, we should praise effort, persistence, and good strategies.

I don’t know how my mindset exactly got formed, to be honest. My parents never pushed me to be perfect in school or sports, and if anything, they were constantly telling me to not be hard on myself. If I was upset at losing a game, they were the first to remind me how hard I played and that I gave it my best effort. Was it my teachers? Maybe some of them. Our educational system (speaking in my case about the United States) definitely rewards good grades and test scores. Want to get into a prestigious college program? Better get a high GPA and test score on your ACT/SAT. So I pushed, and I did it. And then I got to college and I thought, now you can’t expect to get straight A’s because it is so much harder. But then I got straight A’s my first semester, and the same mindset of “you have to keep doing that” set in. Only it WAS harder in college and took much more effort to keep it up. This lead to a large amount of stress and anxiety so bad that my stomach would flop as soon I came back into my college town after a break. Looking back, there was so much more I could have actually learned in college and certainly had more fun doing so had I not been so focused on perfection. 

I think my fixed mindset continued into my first job. Not to get straight A’s of course, but to maintain perfect. To make no mistakes. I worried about making the slightest mistake because I worked in a crime lab – a mistake could mean that a criminal might get away. It wasn’t until I burned out (surprise) and switched careers to something I loved that my mindset began to change. I finally realized that striving for perfection was not only impossible, it was causing me more harm than good. Now, I truly love both learning and my job. I don’t expect myself to know everything or to never make a mistake. I crave problems and figuring them out – I think I always did, but now there is only joy with no anxiety mixed in. Of course my fixed mindset is still here, lurking, and pops up in certain situations. Reading the book helped me realize that and now that I’m more aware of it, I want to embrace it and lean into those situations to encourage my growth mindset to take over. I still have a lot of growing left to do but I’m confident that embracing the growth mindset I have found will help me get there.

Huib’s story:
As a kid, I grew up in a pretty competitive environment. Both of my parents were very competitive and my brother and I were also always competing with each other. I was a smart kid and in school I was one of the top performers. I was also a very curious kid and I had a broad interest and read a lot. Unfortunately, I had too much energy and got distracted pretty fast. That made me not one of the most popular people in elementary school. I guess I had to prove myself in another way. Being the smartest or the best in class was important to me. I wanted to prove that I was smart all the time. It made me unhappy and it made that I was a sort of geek. I am not sure how I was praised back then. All I can remember is that I was a bad loser and I was focused on results and wanted to be seen.

I also developed a big “defensive” wall around me. Scaring away from things that I felt I could fail and over-shouting myself to show the world how invulnerable I was. I became good at talking myself out of dangerous situations where I could fail making a fool out of myself. I made other people believe I had it all under control. As said in my earlier blog post “mastering my mindset“, people perceive me as extremely confident and fearless and it started right after elementary school were I developed this incongruent behaviour. The results were that I got seriously depressed once or twice a year, dropping out of school for sometimes two or three weeks.

I remember doing central exams in High School. They made me super nervous and literally made me sick. Those weeks were horrible for me. Each morning I woke up not being able to eat or drink and anything that I would eat or drink would come out not long after. My fear of failing in combination with a fixed mindset telling me I had to get good grades was killing me. I graduated without taking any re-exams, but only because my grades were very good before taking the central exams.

In sports, I had the same mindset. I had to be the best in everything I did. My father taught me and my brother to play chess. But after a few years, my brother became way better than me and I quit playing because it was not fun anymore. I was a keeper at (field) hockey and here my “not wanting to lose mentality” kicked in driving me to be better. I became keeper in the first place because that way I could not be compared to other people on the field, a safe choice. I remember standing in the goal with tears in my eyes because the opposing party scored a goal. I told myself that I had to be perfect. No ball should pass me, which of course is a crazy thought.

Asking for help has often been a thing for me during my career. When I started working, I had to be good at what I did. Asking for help I considered to be a sign of weakness. This caused a severe burn-out when I was 27. I was developing software and I was responsible for everything: design, coding and testing. There was no team, I was the team, and the customer wanted a lot of new things. In stead of asking for help, I started doing overtime. This resulted in a lot stress, which made me sleep worse. After a couple of months, I couldn’t go on anymore and I collapsed.

Even recently when I took guitar lessons for a year in 2018/2019, my fixed mindset kept showing up. I kept asking questions to my teacher to keep him talking and playing instead me playing for him. I used excuses not to record my playing (which was a regular part of what he did with other students) and I didn’t really enjoyed practicing. Playing a musical instrument makes mistakes very easy to spot, you hear them instantly. My perfectionism and fixed mindset concerning playing guitar made me eventually stop playing. I will pick it up later, because I like playing music, but back then it just didn’t really work for me.

Currently I think I have a combination of a growth and a fixed mindset. My growth mindset is getting more and more dominant and I like that. I worked hard on my mindset and it’s paying off now. Because of my learning about mindset, I am able to recognise when my fixed mindset shows itself. When that happens I take a step back and reflect on why this mindset is there and what caused it. Often it is system 1 (ref: Daniel Kahneman  Thinking Fast vs. Thinking Slow), a learned habit possibly linked to a fear deep inside myself. But eventually I am learning how to deal with it.

In our next blog post we will talk about how we currently deal with our mindset and how we changed the way we think.

Mindset – The book: Mindset – part 1

I am fascinated by mindset. As a lifelong learner I have read piles of books, done many courses and been to over a 100 conferences. When I started coaching people I learned about the power of thoughts. I took a learning pathway in coaching that consisted of 15 days training in a two year period and I learned about how to be a good coach. But I learned even more about myself. In 2019 I started working with bureau Idee and learned how to work on my own mindset. Until then I never fully realised the impact of my thoughts and inner beliefs on my behaviour and mental health. You can read more about that journey here on my blog.

One of the most interesting books I have read is “Mindset – Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential” by Professor dr. Carol Dweck. Me and my learning buddy Nicole Errante read the book together as part of our learning pact. This blog post is our summary of the book. In our next blog post we will discuss our personal experiences with growth and fixed mindsets.

Summary Mindset

Mindset is a way of thinking, a mental attitude and self-conception that you carry with you through your life. People are all born with a love of learning, but somehow, somewhere in our lives it gets undone for some. Some people love challenges, others hate them. This is caused by their mindset. Carol Dweck researched human motivation. Why do people succeed? She found out that mindset plays a big role in creating the love for learning and resilience. Our conscious and unconscious thoughts and beliefs affect how we perform. Changing our beliefs can have a powerful impact.

Dweck talks about mindset being a belief about yourself. Through her research, she discovered there are two types of mindsets: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. In the fixed mindset, people believe that the qualities they possess (such as intelligence or personality) are set in stone. But in the growth mindset, people believe that their qualities are capable of changing through effort, strategy, and help from others. Why is this important? Your mindset affects how you deal with life and the challenges that come along with it. When you are in a fixed mindset, you want to look smart, you are trying to prove yourself over and over. Taking on risks means being vulnerable to failure, and that is not acceptable. Any perceived deficiencies in yourself must be hidden. So you simply avoid risks and stick to easy tasks you know that you can accomplish. You give up easy and get defensive often. But with a growth mindset, you welcome challenges as an opportunity to grow and learn, even if you fail. Inadequacies are seen as something that you can work on and overcome. Even in the growth mindset, failure can be a painful experience. But it doesn’t define you. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from, which makes you more anti-fragile.

In business, leaders with a fixed mindset don’t listen to others and they make subordinates feel bad. They want to feel powerful by highlighting their own superiority. So instead of trying to make good products or services, employees want to please the leader. This can result in the whole company having a fixed mindset. This kills creativity and innovation. It will cause groupthink; group members conforming to group values. Everyone in a group starts thinking alike. Nobody disagrees with the leader. In personal relations, mindset is also important. People with a fixed mindset think that good relations do not need work; they expect their partners to know what they need without talking or asking. They perceive feedback or rejections as proof of their bad personality, where people with a growth mindset work on the relation based on the feedback they get. When people in a growth mindset have a fight, no partner gets full blame in the dispute. They work together to solve the problem.

The beautiful part is that you can change your mindset. It is, after all, just a belief and beliefs can be changed. Dweck does remind us that changing your mindset is not like a knee replacement – you don’t just swap the bad knee (fixed mindset) for the good one (growth mindset). “Instead, the new beliefs take their place alongside the old ones, and as they become stronger, they give you a different way to think, feel, and act.”

How do you build a growth mindset? It starts with accepting that we all have both mindsets! Learn to recognise what triggers our fixed mindset. Failures? Criticism? Deadlines? Disagreements? As you come to understand your triggers and get to know your fixed mindset persona, don’t judge it. Just observe it. Give the persona a name. Then understand what happens to us when our fixed mindset persona is triggered. This will provide insight in the feelings the fixed mindset triggers and the fears that activate it. The next step is to learn to remain in a growth mindset when those triggers occur. Then continue to find opportunities to learn and grow.

Also her TED talk “The power of believing that you can improve” is very inspiring:

How do you build a growth mindset? This video “Developing a Growth Mindset with Carol Dweck” gives some clues:

In our next blog post we will discuss our personal experiences with growth and fixed mindsets.

Mastering my mindset

Dutch version is here

People perceive me as extremely confident. One of my personal mentors once said: “you are fearless”. That is only the outside. Inside I am soft and insecure like most people are. I have fears, quite a few to be honest. My behavior and my inside weren’t congruent.

In my life, I like challenges and when I want something, I go for it. In those cases my determination and will to learn or to achieve something are just bigger than the fear of failing. Personal leadership is important in my life. I am trying to become a better version of myself every day. I want to be an even better person. My passion and energy in combination with being a fighter brought me where I am today. But it had a lot of “collateral damage”. Since my youth I have been struggling with depression, low self esteem and restlessness. Over time I got much better in dealing with them. But I still suffer from burn-out and depression complaints and mental health issues once in a while. My pitfalls are: fighting all the time, pushing people too much, going in debates to win, not able to turn myself off. In September 2019 I started a new episode in my life: I started working with Bureau Idee in Haarlem after an anxiety attack. Working with Peter Spelbos was like coming home. He helped me reflect and made me aware of aspects of myself that I have known for long, but never realized the impact of my thoughts and inner beliefs on my behavior and mental health.

On one hand, I am someone who is always ready to help others. A good and dear friend who is very good at his job. On the other hand I am afraid of many things because of my fear of failure in combination with perfectionism. Having a low self-esteem drains energy because you have to deal with the fact that you care about what others think of you. I see patterns where I put on a mask and hide my real self. Another personal mentor told me that “I am good at breaking down the walls of others and with those stones making my own wall higher and stronger”. I find it difficult to make myself vulnerable. I also see a pattern of running away from problems when it gets too difficult. My head is full of negative thoughts, all the time.

But I am dealing with them. Together with my therapist I gained deeper knowledge about myself, my inner beliefs and he helped me reflect on what to work on. He helped me to take matters into my own hands. By writing this, I feel strong and confident that I will overcome my issues and become a better version of myself. I am already reaping the fruits of my efforts.

As a coach, I teach people that vulnerability and self-reflection is important. By sharing this, I want to be a role model and show that having mental issues is okay as long as you work on them. Being vulnerable is nothing to be ashamed of; it is a super power. I believe that personal leadership and collaboration ultimately makes the difference in work and in your personal life. Mindset is the most important thing to become the best version of yourself. Vitality is key in that! To do the best work and to live the best life, physical and mental health are important and they are directly related! I learned that I need to become mentally strong by being less aggressive and more assertive (have a look at this awesome video). I started guarding my limits and borders, reasoning from my position and being less judgemental, becoming a better listener, being more humble and thankful, started meditating and practicing tolerance. I found a lot of inspiration in the Dutch book “Master your mindset” by Michael Pilarczyk.

I am mastering my mindset. I am dealing with it! It feels good and it makes me feel strong.

Watch your thoughts, they become your words
Watch your words, they become your actions
Watch your actions, they become your habits
Watch your habits, they become your character
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny
― Lao Tzu

Meester over je gedachten (Master your Mindset)

Mensen ervaren mij als extreem zelfverzekerd. Een van mijn persoonlijke mentoren zei ooit: “je bent onbevreesd”. Dat is alleen de buitenkant. Binnen ben ik zacht en onzeker zoals de meeste mensen. Ik heb angsten, nogal wat om eerlijk te zijn. Mijn gedrag en mijn binnenkant waren niet congruent.

In mijn leven houd ik van uitdagingen en als ik iets wil, ga ik ervoor. In die gevallen zijn mijn vastberadenheid en wil om iets te leren of te bereiken gewoon groter dan de angst om te falen. Persoonlijk leiderschap is belangrijk in mijn leven. Ik probeer elke dag een betere versie van mezelf te worden. Ik wil een nog beter persoon zijn. Mijn passie en energie in combinatie met de straatvechter in mij, brachten me waar ik nu ben. Maar het had veel “bijkomende schade”. Sinds mijn jeugd heb ik te kampen met depressies, een laag zelfbeeld en rusteloosheid. Na verloop van tijd wist daar ik steeds beter mee te dealen. Maar ik heb nog steeds af en toe last van burn-out en depressie klachten en daardoor psychische problemen. Mijn valkuilen zijn: de hele tijd vechten, mensen te veel pushen, debatten aangaan om te winnen, mezelf (mentaal en lichamelijk) niet kunnen uitschakelen. In september 2019 begon ik een nieuw tijdperk in mijn leven: ik begon te werken met Bureau Idee in Haarlem na een angstaanval. Werken met Peter Spelbos was als thuiskomen. Hij hielp me nadenken en maakte me bewust van aspecten van mezelf die ik al lang ken, maar nooit de impact van mijn gedachten en innerlijke overtuigingen op mijn gedrag en mentale gezondheid besefte.

Aan de ene kant ben ik iemand die altijd klaar staat om anderen te helpen. Een goede en dierbare vriend die heel goed is in zijn werk. Aan de andere kant ben ik bang voor veel dingen vanwege mijn faalangst in combinatie met perfectionisme. Het hebben van een laag zelfbeeld verspilt energie omdat je je druk maakt om wat anderen van je denken. Ik zie patronen waar ik een masker op zet en mijn echte zelf verberg. Een andere persoonlijke mentor vertelde me dat “ik goed ben in het afbreken van de muren van anderen en met die stenen mijn eigen muur hoger en sterker maak”. Ik vind het moeilijk om mezelf kwetsbaar op te stellen. Ik zie ook een patroon van weglopen van problemen wanneer het te moeilijk wordt. Mijn hoofd is altijd vol met negatieve gedachten.

Maar ik ben ermee aan de slag gegaan. Samen met mijn therapeut heb ik diepgaande kennis over mezelf en mijn innerlijke overtuigingen ontdekt. Hij heeft me geholpen na te denken over waar ik aan moest werken. Hij hielp me het heft in eigen handen te nemen. Door dit te schrijven, voel ik me sterk en zelfverzekerd dat ik mijn problemen zal overwinnen en een betere versie van mezelf zal worden. Ik pluk nu de vruchten van mijn inspanningen.

Als coach leer ik mensen dat kwetsbaarheid en zelfreflectie belangrijk zijn. Door dit te delen, wil ik een rolmodel zijn en laten zien dat het hebben van mentale problemen prima is zolang je eraan werkt. Kwetsbaar zijn is niet iets om je voor te schamen; het is een superkracht. Ik geloof dat persoonlijk leiderschap en samenwerking uiteindelijk het verschil maakt in werk en in je persoonlijke leven. Mindset is het belangrijkste om de beste versie van jezelf te worden. Vitaliteit staat daarbij centraal! Om het beste werk te doen en het beste leven te leiden, is fysieke en mentale gezondheid belangrijk en die zijn direct aan elkaar gerelateerd! Ik heb geleerd dat ik mentaal sterk kan worden door minder agressief en meer assertief te zijn (bekijk deze geweldige video). Ik begon mijn grenzen te bewaken en aan te geven aan anderen, vanuit mijn eigen positie te redeneren en minder oordelend te zijn, een betere luisteraar te worden, nederiger en dankbaar te zijn, begon te mediteren en tolerantie te oefenen. Ik vond veel inspiratie in het Nederlandse boek ‘Master your mindset‘ van Michael Pilarczyk.

Ik ben bezig om mijn mindset te trainen. Ik werk aan mijn manier van denken! Het voelt goed en ik voel me sterk.

Let op je gedachten, ze worden je woorden
Let op je woorden, ze worden je acties
Let op je acties, ze worden je gewoontes
Let op je gewoonten, ze worden je karakter
Let op je karakter, het wordt je bestemming
- Lao Tzu