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

Bakjac Surfing.jpg

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 michelle@bakjacconsulting.com 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 www.bakjacconsulting.com or michelle@bakjacconsulting.com


6 Ways to Improve Your Morning Mindset

Every day we wake up in the morning and most likely go through the same routine we do every other day. We wake up, crawl out of bed hunched over, go to the bathroom, have a shower, get dressed etc etc. We undertake these same sets of activities, and yet many of us feel that we don’t start the day out feeling good. Well for those of us who are aware of Einstein’s Theory of Insanity (doing the same thing, in the same way and expecting a different result) we actually have to do something different, if we want to actually feel different.

I think the body’s response to change is fascinating. Consider when it’s the middle of winter, a sunny day of 22 degrees feels deliciously warm, whereas in the middle of summer it feels unseasonably cool. It’s all about what we’re used to. And when you’re used to a certain routine, something different can feel quite strange at first and it takes us a while to adapt. But if we can visualise a different potential outcome, a more positive outcome, then maybe the small effort that goes into a change could be really worth it.

A habit occurs when neuronal pathways in the brain become fixed through constant use, like going to work the same way every day. It’s important not to let reactivity to a bad morning routine, become a habit. 

If we take a beginner’s mind, ie looking at each day as if it were the first, we can wake up with: “Today is a day where I feel full of potential”. 

Try it out. See how the words feel within you. They’re different, we register them differently within the body, and therefore in the mindset and attitude. And our mindset is what helps to form habits, good and bad.

So what can you do to start developing a positive morning mindset. Well it can start before you even get out of bed. When the alarm goes off, you probably roll over and press snooze, and say to yourself “just five more minutes” and then as the snooze button wears off and you know it’s time, you get out of bed slowly and wander in a hunch to the bathroom. So now let’s try something different. Let’s start and create a new habit. Try these 6 steps for developing a positive morning mindset.

1.   When the alarm goes off, stay in bed and spend those 5 minutes stretching in the bed. Stretch tall and stretch wide. Get your blood flowing and your body ready for movement in a positive way.

2.   When you do into the bathroom (if you’re not busting), go to the mirror first and give yourself a huge smile. Now I know this might sound a little odd, but look in the mirror while you’re grinning like an idiot and say to yourself “I feel terrific”. Say it three times in a row and like you really mean it. It’s OK to have a bit of a laugh at yourself while you’re doing it. Laughing is good and the whole 5 second exercise will get your endorphins flowing – your happy drugs, to kick start some good emotions. Now, when you go to the kitchen and greet your family, keep the smile on your face and smile at every member of your family. They might wonder at first what’s wrong with you, but just wait for the positive impact. We know that there is a ripple effect when we engage in positive behaviour in our relationships. If we smile at someone, they are more likely to smile back and to keep smiling and be happy when they meet others in the day, and those people are then more likely to smile at others and so on and so on.

3.   Don’t check your mobile, or your emails or any other device. Your time is your time. Protect your time and your work life balance and keep work activities to do within work time. Give yourself a break from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc etc as well. There is plenty of time in the day to attend to these later. Give yourself a tech free morning until 9am at least.

4.   After your shower and before you get dressed, sit down on the carpet and do 10 minutes of meditation or mindfulness. Regular meditation has been shown to increase activity in the left pre-frontal cortex, a region in the brain known to be connected to positive emotion. 

5.   Eat breakfast. I know we are all in a rush and usually a coffee is all we have time for. But 10 minutes at the kitchen table correctly fuelling your body for the day can make a world of difference. Not to mention it’s another opportunity to smile at your family.

6.   While you’re eating breakfast consider your plan of action for the day. If you have things on your mind that you are worried about, then take clear action and decide on a specific course, problem solve and work through what is within your control. Feel empowered to charge ahead with the day knowing that you are in control of your reactions and have a clear sense of how you will cope with any adversity. 

Now you’re ready to start the day fresh, motivated, empowered and full of opportunities. Go out and start the day with your new morning mindset.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a member of 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, behaviour and wellbeing.  You can find her at www.bakjacconsulting.com or michelle@bakjacconsulting.com