How Can You Stride Into A Growth Mindset And Develop Mental Toughness?

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I am currently working with a team who are going through significant change. Some members of the team seem to be taking it all in their stride and are even enjoying the challenge. One team member in this group even volunteered a quote that I quite like.

“You can’t stop the waves,

But you can learn how to surf”

However other members of the team are struggling to come to terms with how the change impacts them and one comment I continue to hear regularly is “I feel like I’m not in control”.

The team members are obviously in different stages of accepting or resisting the change process but there is also a fundamental difference in many team members relating to whether they have a fixed or a growth mindset.


Individuals believe that talents are innate gifts. People spend their time documenting their intelligence instead of developing it. They tend to worry about looking smart and are often worried that they might be ‘found out’. They tend to avoid risk, focus on ability rather than effort, consider effort as disagreeable, see success as effortless, feel failure can be attributed to others, and consider setbacks are to be avoided.


Individuals believe their talents can be developed (through dedicated hard work, good strategies and input from others) and therefore they put a lot of effort into learning. They consider their brains are just the starting point. Challenge is seen as a good thing, they have confidence in themselves, they learn from mistakes, hard work is seen as more important than ability, they consider practice develops ability, they recognize people can change and they accept that what one person can learn everyone can learn. This view basically creates a love of learning.

When not only individuals, but organisations embrace a growth mindset, employees report feeling far more empowered and committed, they also receive far greater organisational support for collaboration and innovation. In contrast praising brains and talent alone does not actually foster self-esteem and accomplishment, but instead jeopardises them.

When it comes to our Mental Toughness to manage change and challenges we do have the ability to change the way we think. We can do this in two ways.

1.   Permanent – change our thinking habits – rewire and develop new habits

2.   Temporary – flick a switch and behave like a Mentally Tough person – turbo charge your thoughts, focus your mind, think and act confidently and positively.

“It’s not how good you are.

It’s how good you want to be”

You can develop your Mental Toughness in each of the 4Cs of Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence.

·        View Challenges as Opportunities – relish opportunities to learn something new and see opportunities for self-improvement.

·        Try different ways to learn – there is no one size fits all. What works for you?

·        Replace the word “failing” with the word “learning”

·        Recognise what is within your control – focus on what you can control and not what is outside your circle of influence. What is particularly within your control is your own attitude.

·        Stop seeking external approval. Put learning over approval and value the process over the end result.

·        Consider commitment to your purpose – keep the big picture in mind and consider the steps to get you there.

·        Celebrate your growth – with self and with others

·        Recognise growth over speed – when are you doing something smart, not just being smart!

·        Recognise criticism as a positive thing – think of all the valuable information you have just been gifted.

·        Give yourself plenty of time for reflection – at least once a day.

·        Cultivate determination – and seek approval from self not from others.

·        Take risks – there is no such thing as failure, only a new learning experience.

·        Be realistic about time and effort – it takes time to learn and effort to master. Nothing comes overnight.

·        Take ownership of your attitude – own your growth mindset and let it guide you in life and in your career.

Want to know more about developing you and your team’s growth mindset? Send me an email at to enquire about mental toughness and developing a growth mindset.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner.  Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.  You can find her at or