During a recent book talk with two of our three millennial children, the youngest one shared something that resonated loudly. My daughters and I were discussing differences between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset and the youngest one said: When you’re driven like our family, it’s possible to sometimes get caught up having a fixed growth mindset, which can overwhelm and burn us out if we’re not careful.
Wow! How true is that statement for driven leaders who are always “on the grind” to meet the needs of so many other people?
As leaders, we try to avoid being stagnated by perpetual fixed mindsets that hinder our ability to seize opportunities for growth. By the same token, we also don’t want to be so fixated on having a growth mindset that we forget to schedule in times to slow down and do some type of self-care so that we’re better positioned to invest in people looking to us for strong and healthy leadership.
I know this is not something openly talked about in leadership circles filled with Super Men and Wonder Women. However, as someone described as “Woman Woman” by a number of people, I learned the truth of my daughter’s statement the hard way in 2014 when I got a very unexpected breast cancer diagnosis. Hearing those words stung me like a hive of angry bees:
Unfortunately. They. Found. Something. Stage. One. Non-Aggressive. Breast. Cancer. Point. Eight. Centimeter. Tumor.
What?! I’d always been the poster child for excellent health. That startling experience in 2014 woke me right up and caused me to fixate on getting well and changing the way I was approaching how I led and how I approached life, in general.
Before the diagnosis, I ate healthy foods every day and exercised and had down time when I could fit it in. After the diagnosis, I continued eating healthy foods and scheduled in daily health and fitness and down time activities that I enjoy doing. I’m glad to say that those changes worked and I’ve enjoyed four years of healthy, cancer-free living – I’m healthier and more fit now that I was before!
I became fixated on leading and growing through healthier living choices. Now, don’t get me wrong – I still lead with a growth mindset. I believe the people I’m called to lead, coach, consult, and train deserve all that and more.
But, a big part of my growth mindset includes being consumed with staying fit and healthy. I’m told I’m even leading more effectively and making greater connections with people I lead.
To my fellow leaders, I’d love for you to weigh in and transparently share how you’ve managed occurrences of a fixed growth mindset in your lives. Any thoughts you share just might save another leader’s life.
Educational Leadership Coach, Consultant & Trainer | Author | Presenter & Speaker
Dr. Sharon M. Biggs has 31+ years of K-12 Educational Leadership experience at the state, district, and school level in NJ and NYC, serving as a Statewide Leadership Coach, Assistant to the Superintendent, Executive Director, Principal Coach, Principal, Assistant Principal, Teacher Leader, and Classroom Teacher. She currently leads the Educational Leadership Coaching, Consulting & Training division of Marketplace Dynamics, a New Jersey-based leadership development agency.