In Canada, “no worries” is an expression almost as common as “sorry”. It is heard when one might, for example, witness a commuter on a packed subway car being bumped by a fellow passenger. The individual will ordinarily use this term to indicate “I don’t feel aggressed” in the event a ‘bumper’ apologizes with the ever pervasive “sorry” heard among most Canadian citizenry.

I’ve been working with a coach recently and one of the realizations I’ve come to is the power of possessing, and working on, the right mindset. As I’ve learned, ‘fixed mindsets’ are all too common: an individual’s binary approach to the world that gauges progress simply in terms of success or failure. On the other hand, a ‘growth mindset’ functions from premise that human qualities like intelligence and creativity are not fixed and can be cultivated. (There’s some wonderful research from Carol Dweck on this topic synthesized in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.)

As I work on my own belief system, I am beginning to realize the power of such a mindset. To stretch myself and to learn something new, are far more important than looking to prove whether I’m smart or successful (however, you might interpret these terms). This realization has been profoundly freeing.

No worries for me

In adopting a growth mindset, my worries about my perceived intelligence or abilities have dramatically dissipated. I no longer value my ‘self-validation’ in the world. As a result, I am learning new levels of listening and layers of engagement that extend beyond — and also pre-empt — my productivity bias. In so doing, I am learning to be more patient, an essential skill…especially for a parent of a four-year-old!

I’ve realized how I can ask better questions. Questions framed to generate conversation as a means of establishing trust with others. By asking “how” questions, I’m able to encourage stories and coax out information from others that otherwise may not be accessible.

In short, my natural curiosity in others is being allowed to shine. It reminds me of some work I did a few years ago with ROTH Communications on behalf of a government agency in South Africa, and how establishing rapport with interview subjects starts with the extent to which one is able to listen and empathize with another person, at their level, in that moment. What one receives in return is so much more meaningful and authentic.

Adopting a growth mindset is, for me, an antidote to letting ‘failure’ rule my life. Moreover, it allows me to turn setbacks and disappointments into learning, looking beyond my perceived deficiencies to enter a world of possibility.

Such a mindset is even giving me a renewed sense of my own grit, empowering my persistence and emboldening my enthusiasm for personal growth (even while the traditional understanding of unending economic growth requires a revolutionary inside-out examination).

It is a whole new world for me where the term “effort” has a refreshed meaning, and my understanding of ‘personal potential’ has been grossly improved.

This post was originally published in (a private blog to be made public later this year).

Canadian Capetonian living in Toronto trying to be a good father and husband as I navigate through life on this mysterious planet.

Canadian Capetonian living in Toronto trying to be a good father and husband as I navigate through life on this mysterious planet.