The growth mindset: how to succeed in our new normal

Susan David – one of the world’s leading management thinkers and award-winning Harvard Medical School psychologist – unpacks the difficult emotions we’ve all had to experience around accepting the reality of our new normal. She explains that if we allow ourselves to really experience these difficult emotions in healthy amounts, it’s a sign that we actually accept reality.

“Only then can you begin to use your skills in order to become creative about how to respond to a crisis that demands innovation. If you deny this reality—if you keep waiting for life to return to the way it was—you will be at a disadvantage for being able to emotionally and mentally handle this crisis.

Those who can come together around the idea that we’re not going back to what once was, have the opportunity to get a headstart into what will be.”

Carol Dweck, American psychologist, and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, details two main mindsets with which we navigate life: growth and fixed.

In a fixed mindset, people believe that intelligence and talents are fixed traits that cannot change – thus they document their intelligence and talent rather than develop and improve them. They believe that talent alone leads to success, and effort isn’t required.

Alternatively, a growth mindset believes that intelligence and talent can grow with time, experience, and effort. When people believe their intelligence and talents can be cultivated in order to succeed, they put in extra time, leading to greater achievement.

Image credits: Reid Wilson @wayfaringpath; icon from

Having a growth mindset is essential for success, especially now, as we’ve all had to dive headfirst into navigating a new world. As Dweck describes flawlessly: “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.” Our team at Yellow Door believe that a business which adopts a growth mindset can position itself to thrive in our new normal. In fact, we’ve gone as far as to create a lockdown strategy offering to help brands do just that.

Having a growth mindset when navigating our new normal involves, amongst other qualities, understanding that taking appropriate risks sometimes leads to failure – it’s how you define and bounce back from that failure that counts. This involves embracing challenges, learning from criticism, persisting in the face of setbacks, seeing effort as the path to mastery, and finding lessons and inspiration in the success of others.

Building on Susan David’s words – this pandemic has demanded innovation from businesses in order to survive, which is incredibly difficult but a great challenge that we can all learn from, if we have the right mindset. By cultivating a growth mindset, we can stretch ourselves to continually learn to seek new solutions and ideas, even when it’s not going well, to ultimately have an opportunity to get a headstart into what will be.

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