Employee mindsets and promoting the joy of discovery

PHOTO/EIRIK SOLHEIM Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, says Silicon Valley is a mindset and that it represents a hub of discovery rather than simply a place on a map.

Mindset is a person’s way of thinking and his or her opinions.

In her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” Stanford professor Carol Dweck makes a case for two mindset types that produce individual success or difficulties.

One mindset type believes one’s success is based on innate ability, and Dweck calls this mindset a fixed concept of intelligence. This fixed mindset can be formed unconsciously or reinforced by cultural norms.

A second mindset type believes that hard work and learning have an incremental effect on one’s behavior, which Dweck refers to as a growth mindset.

The relevance is that those with a fixed mindset dread failure because it challenges their assumptions of their innate ability or intelligence. It usually results in a pretense of always looking or being smart, even though or perhaps because they imagine differently.

Meanwhile, the growth mindset group is less challenged because it realizes success is a developmental process, therefore it can be achieved. It sees it as a learning process and is less likely to be stymied or dismayed.


Dweck suggests growth mindset allows one to live a less stressful and more successful life.

People with an unconscious fixed concept of intelligence are likely to have an unfulfilled record of accomplishment.

Jo Boaler, professor of mathematics at Stanford Graduate School of Education, has done research that shows fixed-thinking individuals can achieve greater success when they jettison their obsession with perfection.


The reality is that humans are a complex mystery, and consequently there is value in both concepts.

Perfection has benefits, but if you cannot deal with imperfection, it becomes a handicap.

Organizational leaders and teams from time to time tailor training or developmental support by blending multiple mindsets. It is less complex when this work is focused on the mission’s purpose.

The good news is focusing on missions allows fixed-thinking employees to overcome intuitive setbacks by learning and thinking in different ways other than in terms of possible failure.


Developing employees to adopt a more diverse and expanded mindset helps to get their maximum contribution while simultaneously providing a sense of individual achievement.

Leadership must be aware that, while we are responsible to pursue excellence, we may occasionally generate a burdensome anxiety for others.

Our workforce demands may occasionally have unintended and undesirable consequences for fixed mindsets.


Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, says that Silicon Valley is a mindset, not a location – that it represents a hotbed of discovery rather than simply a place on a map.

A growth mindset is a system for detection and gratifying self-expression. It opens up one to a higher process of learning rather than obligatory course-changing.

The leader who promotes this kind of joy of learning and discovery does a great service to the recipient, who benefits personally, as well as to society’s advancement in the broader sense.


We all have mindsets, and it can be useful to identify which of these two mindsets affects your world view. Once that is distinguished, we are likely to consciously choose a path to accomplishment by merely tweaking one or the other.

Generally, our mindsets are automatically developed and operate outside our awareness while determining our world view. When they are identified, we’re able to direct our thinking toward producing a more independent outcome.

Being aware of our own thinking processes empowers us as leaders to recognize these mindsets in others for their professional development.


Simply being aware of our mindset empowers us to take charge of our lives and promotes our success.

This quote from a May 2017 National Geographic article titled “What is Genius?” expresses the possibility of this conversation:

“Some minds are so exceptional that they change the world. We don’t know exactly what makes these extraordinary people soar above the rest of us, but science offers us clues.”

Jon Craighead, president of Craighead Associates LLC (www.craigheadassociates.com) of Pocono Pines, has more than 20 years of experience as a consultant, working with senior executives in Fortune 100 corporations to sole proprietorships. Serving the Poconos and northeastern Pennsylvania, he can be reached at jon@craigheadassociates.com.

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