Is Your Mindset Halting Your Third Sector Career Plans?

"A fixed mindset limits achievement. It fills people's minds with interfering thoughts, it makes effort disagreeable, and it leads to inferior learning strategies."  
Carol Dweck, 'Mindset: The New Psychology of Success' 

There can be no doubt that to achieve success in your third sector career requires adaptability, expertise and enthusiasm. 

Skills and experience are critical to the mix, but an additional element to these requirements is also needed, and that element is a growth mindset. 

A growth mindset is key to unlocking your potential and achieving your career aspirations. 

Professor Carol Dweck from Stanford University first coined the phrase "growth mindset" following years of behavioural studies.  Her research showed that those with a 'fixed' mindset are stuck in the same place, unable to develop and expand, while those with a 'growth' mindset can use their experiences to uncover new opportunities.  

So, what are the steps you need to take to insure your mindset is contributing to, and not keeping you from, achieving your third sector career goals?  

In this article, I will share three easy steps to help grow your mindset, but first, let's define how these two types of mindset affect how you think and act, and how they can affect your career growth. 

Fixed Mindset v Growth Mindset 

Having a fixed mindset means that even if you want to progress your career in HR and achieve a Head of People role, you are more likely to accept that it's 'not meant to be' because you don't currently have the right skills in people management, employee relations and recruitment. 

A fixed mindset places restrictions on you, keeping you contained in your current role without aspiration or belief that you can achieve more.  

Alternatively, by embracing a growth mindset, you let go of restrictions. You will experience a more positive attitude, believing that by working hard, you can achieve your goals, even when the path isn't easy. You are more likely to forge a pathway to your goals, seeking ways to learn more about leading on HR projects, organisational priorities and leadership styles to help you grow your knowledge. 

Having a growth mindset means not being put off learning a new skill and expanding your education and experience. By assessing your current skills to see where you have gaps in your knowledge, you can seek to extend your abilities via training opportunities, asking colleagues or a mentor for advice, and proactively seeking to understand.   
A basic belief that growth is always possible is paramount to developing a growth mindset.  

If you believe your career plans are being interrupted by a fixed mindset and that you can't achieve more, what can you do to facilitate personal and professional development, and change your mindset to one that embraces expansion and improvement? 

Here are three easy ways to ensure your mindset isn't holding back your third sector career aspiration. 

1. Exercise Your Curiosity Muscle  

Are you guilty of resistance?  

If you are set in your ways and opinions, you will inevitably be resistant to change, and therefore put yourself at risk of being left behind by colleagues who are ready to embrace new ideas. 

People with growth mindsets aren't afraid of change; they approach it with curiosity and excitement.  

So, exercise your curiosity muscle by being: 
  • open to suggestions, opinions and options  
  • a good listener to colleagues' innovative ideas  
  • prepared to try something new and different 
  • able to consider the positives of change, rather than the negatives 
  • willing to get out of your comfort zone
Being curious will not only see you emerge as more positive and open to new ideas, and embracing technology and innovation will ensure you are futureproofed in your workplace. 

2. Challenge Yourself 

As well as thinking positively and staying curious, it's vital to challenge yourself to accept new ideas and learn new skills. 

Having a growth mindset means being willing to take risks and learn from your mistakes. Remember also that things don't always go to plan, but one bad result or outcome does not define your overall potential.  

It's crucial to embrace failure as much as success -failure provides an opportunity to grow and learn from your mistakes. Did you know that NASA prefers astronauts who have bounced back from failure above those with untarnished success rates? 
Set yourself ambitious goals – where do you want to be in one, three, five years?  

Remember to include milestone achievements in your plan – these will provide encouragement and motivation, and give you a reason to celebrate along the way as you work towards your ultimate goal.

3. Welcome Learning Opportunities

Do you have a willingness to learn?  
Or do you panic at the thought of automated tools or A.I. being introduced to your charity or organisation?  

Are you resistant to change in processes and procedures, believing you won't understand them? 

Don't let a lack of understanding hold you back. By acknowledging your skills gap, you can find ways to overcome it. 

Growth mindsets permit innovation which can result in new solutions; so make sure you are open and receptive to new ideas which could help you achieve your career goals. 

Compare your current skill set to your career plans and figure out where you need to go to achieve your goals. Once you know where your development opportunities lie, you can work towards the next stage of growing your knowledge and experience, remembering to accept feedback along the way and use it as a compass to indicate areas on which you need to concentrate on improving. 
Adopting a growth mindset means acknowledging your ability to achieve your professional goals within the third sector. All you need to do is work towards them so that when your dream role becomes available, you'll have the confidence and right mindset to sail through your interview and realise your aspirations.  

Heather Clarke 
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About Harris Burns  
Harris Burns are specialists in Executive Search and Senior Finance appointments within the Public Sector; with particular expertise in NHS, Housing and Charity Sectors.   
With over 60 years' combined experience, we have extensive knowledge of the market, proven track records and established networks, allowing us to provide a wide range of services to both clients and candidates alike.  
To learn more about how we can support you to either build your team or career, contact us on 01952 743243.