At the dawn of a new year, many of us might benefit from doing an MBA. No, I do not mean a Masters of Business Administration (although go you if you’re after one of these). I mean a Mindset Behaviour Attitude adjustment.
This idea was triggered by one of my beautiful clients based in Denmark. They were discussing their culture plan, and their actions towards supporting their teams adopt stronger cross-functional teamwork.
One of the participants said that they needed to make an “Mindset, Attitude, Behaviour adjustment”. Another participant quipped – “Or we need to do a Mindset, Behaviour, Attitude adjustment – we all need to do an MBA!”.
This is gold!
I love this idea of an MBA. And now, at the beginning of a New Year, at a time for resolutions and new beginnings, I have been asking myself what I need to do an MBA on.
I’ve decided to be more curious. And I’m starting this by being more curious about my own mindset, not with the goal of changing it necessarily, but with the goal of understanding how my thinking is either supportive or unsupportive of my values.
Mindset is everything. It determines how we view the world, how we approach problems, how we experience enjoyment and how we relate to others. Dr Carol Dweck gave us a definition of mindset as either Growth or Fixed. A Growth mindset is one that invites curiosity, openness, the capacity to question, explore and change viewpoints. A Fixed mindset is one that is opinionated, dogmatic, and rigid; closed to new opinions and motivated to validate our existing ideas instead of challenge them.
By observing my mindset more, I’ve noticed there are some things I’m fixed on (like my attitude to politicians), and there are some things that I’m more open about (like adaptive technologies). Also, some things I used to be more fixed on I am more open to (like my relationship to debt) and some things I was more open to are becoming more fixed on (like my attitude to challenging family members).
A fixed mindset is not fixed – if that makes sense. It all comes down to awareness and being more curious about why you believe what you believe. What evidence is there to support your view? Have you questioned the reasons why the opposite view may also be valid?
In Think Again, Adam Grant challenged the world to think beyond our first response. He challenged us to identify that sometimes – our first instinct is not the best idea. That in fact, we would benefit from thinking more like scientists – forming hypotheses and testing these out for factual accuracy rather than falling prey to ignorance, assumptions and biases.
Our lens of the world is coloured by our values and beliefs. These are instilled from a very young age and determine what we judge as good, bad or indifferent. Viewpoints, values and beliefs are inherited, passed down through the psycho-social cultural paradigms we’re raised in. Where did you inherit your view? What is your familial and cultural history? How has that influenced your mindset – the things you are fixed vs more open about?
My mother’s side of the family is Cypriot Greek. We often have a good laugh about how long the Greeks can hold a grudge! It’s funny because it’s true. I’ve been reading about the Greek myths, the battle of Troy and the subsequent fallout. Brutal stuff. If those stories hold even a modicum of truth, then I can understand why the Greeks hold onto things that happened in the past! It’s not an excuse for a fixed mindset, but it does help me understand the generational mindset that I inherited from my family.
Philosophy and psychology ask us to examine our views – to test them – roll them around a bit. A sign of an evolved society is one that can tolerate many different views, where free speech is a cornerstone, where people of different race, religion, sexual orientation or ability can not only tolerate each other, but actively work together. Not only does this lead to richer cultural experiences, it drives innovation. Different viewpoints foster new ideas – a concept popularised by Frans Johansson in The Medici Effect.
More and more our free thinking is being challenged by algorithms delivered through social media accounts. We are being fed our viewpoints back to us from algorithms that sense what we like, what we tolerate and what we think we need. Social media serves to reinforce existing beliefs, not challenge them. We are slowly losing the capacity for critical thinking, and this is the very capacity we need to develop as a society if we are to remain relevant and adaptive in a world where cognitive load is being managed more and more by computers.
By being more curious about my mindset, I’m exploring what I need to find more balance and experience more joy in 2024. For me, it’s all about the payoff between commitment to work, and time with family. I’m questioning my attitude about how much money I need to be happy; what truly matters to my family; what I am willing to sacrifice both from a wealth perspective and from a family perspective. Everything is a balance, and when the balance is out, there are consequences to health and wellbeing of ourselves and the ones we love. I want to be more curious because I want to be more creative, experience more joy, be a more active parent, a more loving wife and a more engaged friend.
So, what do you need to do your MBA on in 2024?