Growth Mindset: The Psychological Secret To Success [Interview]

Alistair Roberts
Posted by Alistair Roberts on May 19, 2021 4:24:03 PM

The Growth Mindset is the brainchild of American psychologist Carol Dweck, whose research into motivation, personality, and development lead her to the idea. According to the great lady herself, “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.” This mentality allows people to achieve incredible things, and flourish as human beings.

To capture some fresh insights on the growth mindset, we chatted with Steve Anderson—an Olympic gold medal coach, thought leader, social entrepreneur, and author of the book The Challenge Makes The Champion. Steve has coached five Olympic Games in the sport of beach volleyball, winning the 2000 Gold, and 1996 Bronze medals. In the 90s, he won the FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball) Team of the Decade Award.

His experience has given him great insight into the growth mindset, and how it helps us to succeed.

Steve Anderson Olympic CoachOlympic coach Steve Anderson

What follows is a summary of the ideas discussed with Steve, followed by a full transcript of the conversion.

Table of contents

  1. Fixed vs growth mindset
  2. Growth mindset vs fixed mindset breakdown
  3. Your mindset is fluid
  4. What are the traits of a fixed mindset?
  5. How does a growth mindset help you succeed?
  6. Implicit vs explicit bias
  7. How to develop a growth mindset
  8. Creating a growth mindset culture
  9. How does your ego affect a growth mindset?
  10. The connection between growth and purpose
  11. Full interview transcript with Steve Anderson

Fixed vs growth mindset

Fixed vs growth mindset

What is a fixed mindset?

Someone with a fixed mindset believes that their ability and intelligence are fixed, and cannot be changed. Their hand has been dealt, and it cannot be influenced in any way. Someone with a growth mindset, on the other hand, believes that their ability and intelligence is fluid. Their hand has been dealt, but if they play the game with passion, skill, and purpose, they can get a much better hand.

People with fixed mindsets tend to be fearful. Their actions are often a way to better protect themselves—to fruitlessly secure themselves in a world built on chaos. And the driving force behind this is their ego, which is to say, their very identity. They want to look good in the eyes of others, and portray themselves in a way that is acceptable to society, because it makes them feel safe. They strive for shallow success because their achievements define them, and for that identity to remain true, success needs to keep on coming. And when it doesn’t, there’s a real risk of an emotional breakdown—if they aren’t their successes, what are they? So they're in this tricky position where they’re afraid to be vulnerable and attempt truly challenging things that make them grow. This fixed mindset stunts them, and makes them fulfill their own prophecy of failure.

What is a growth mindset?

People with growth mindsets are courageous explorers. Their actions are driven by a desire to become a better person, because they fundamentally believe that they can become a better person. They don’t begrudge obstacles, they tackle them head on because they see them as a way to improve. And when they fail, it doesn’t mean they’re stupid or incompetent—they just need to learn from their failure and do better next time. They know that failure is necessary to improve, whereas someone with a fixed mindset would see failure as an attack on their ego, and may be horribly embarrassed about what people might think of them. 

"Why wouldn't I just put my best self forward and see where I land?"
—Steve Anderson

It sounds like a cliche, but the growth mindset is about seeing life as a journey of change, rather than measuring each individual action and having them form your identity. It's about separating your performance from your identity and having the courage to show up every time, so that you can improve and grow. Someone with a growth mindset might say “I’m not that, I’m becoming that—this is a process.” There’s no proof or assurance that they can become the thing they want to be, but they realise that if they put in the work and honour the process, they tap into their boundless potential, and in opposition to the fixed mindset, fulfil a prophecy of success.

Growth mindset vs fixed mindset breakdown

 

Fixed mindset

Growth mindset

Belief

Intelligence and ability is fixed.

Intelligence and ability is fluid.

Ego

I want to look good to others.

I want to improve for myself.

Challenges

I avoid challenges, because I might fail. 


If I do challenge myself, I give up easily.

I embrace challenges, because they help me grow.


If I’m having difficulties, I persist until I succeed.

Effort

Effort is pointless, because my intelligence is fixed.

Effort is how I become a master at something.

Criticism

I ignore criticism because it’s too emotionally painful.

I absorb criticism because there are lessons to be learned.

Success of others

I’m threatened by the success of others.

Successful people can help me learn.

Your mindset is fluid

Your mindset is also fluid. You aren’t born with a fixed or growth mindset at birth and then stuck with it for life. It fluctuates throughout, and you might find yourself shifting between the two. If you’re stuck in a rut, you may be suffering from a temporary fixed mindset, and focusing on external rather than internal achievements; from the desire to show-off, instead of growing as a person. It has temporary boosts and setbacks. Life events can make you prone to a growth or fixed mindset, which can temporarily push you one way or the other. Social recognition—such as winning an award or competition—might make you feel on top of the world, where you find yourself more open, confident and self-assured, which pushes you further into a growth mindset. But this may not last, and you can find yourself falling back to your old habits and your core mindset. On the other side, a life event like loss, grief or some sort of major setback can make you feel vulnerable or bad about yourself, and you may get stuck in a psychological rut where you retreat from your core growth mindset. Being ok with both extremes is tough, but it's critical to recognise external boosts or setbacks as nothing more than life events, rather than a reflection of who you are.

You can develop a growth mindset by consciously working on it, and continuing to maintain it throughout your life (as with any habit). Unless you remain conscious of it as you get older, you may find yourself sliding into a fixed mindset, as illustrated by the phrase "you can't teach an old dog new tricks."

What are the traits of a fixed mindset?

People with fixed mindsets tend to be frightened, and they will often forego ethics to protect themselves. For example, in a group situation, if they feel threatened by someone who is offering them good advice, they might show contempt to elevate themselves. If they show the group that this person doesn’t know what they’re talking about, it makes them look better, and if they’re outwardly confident, and the kind of person who people look to for leadership, the rest of the group might take their lead, and turn their back on the person who is offering genuinely good advice (not just ego-driven judgment). So everyone in the group loses.

"You can fake performance but you can't fake results."
—Steve Anderson

This isn’t to say that people with fixed mindsets can’t achieve great things. They can achieve a lot, but they never reach their maximum potential because they’re held back by fear. It just doesn’t feel safe for them to exert themselves beyond their comfortable boundaries, because failure might crush the foundation of their being. If failure happens, it’s much more than just a bad performance—they judge themselves to be a bad person.

If they want to reach their potential, they must gather the courage to face themselves. They must admit that the pathway to excellence is through real challenge, not just doing more of the same. There’s no such thing as faking it till they make it—they have to really believe that they have the potential to become great.

Why doesn’t someone with a fixed mindset just put their best selves forward and see where they land? Get an estimation of their abilities, and then grow from there? The answer might be found in Polyvagal Theory—a theory that describes the role of the vagus nerve in social connection, emotional regulation, and the fear response. This theory states that when you’re in a group situation and you feel that others are judging you negatively, you revert to what might be described as your “lizard brain,” where survival overrides every other impulse. High performance is no longer a consideration, and challenges will be avoided. When you feel unsafe, it simply isn’t possible for you to show up as your best self.

For anyone wanting to achieve things quickly, this is a major problem. They don’t have 25 years for achieving big gains, and when their safety is threatened—for example in a big competition that is being watched by thousands of people—their nervous system can put them into “freeze” mode, destroy their focus, and prevent them from reasoning themselves out of it. Then they judge themselves as a loser who shouldn’t have taken the challenge in the first place. From a training perspective, the way to resolve this issue for someone is to widen their perception of safety—to challenge them in a way that doesn’t feel like a threat, and slowly increase those challenges until they become used to them. With this method, they can access their training and complete the challenge effectively, and to their full potential.

How does a growth mindset help you succeed?

Great things are defined by their challenges—if they were easy, they’d cease to be great. And people with growth mindsets have a strong desire to tackle challenges, because they understand that they help them to grow. Tackle enough challenges and you’ll eventually achieve something great—Olympic Gold medals, marathon completions, a promotion to the job of your dreams, or anything else you wholeheartedly desire.

"If someone doesn't face the challenges they need to move forward, and someone with less talent is constantly facing what's real and doing something about it, they're going to move forward faster and further."
—Steve Anderson

If you’ve had a consistent growth mindset for a long time, you probably consider yourself a successful person who is living honestly. Most of what you do feels right because you’re living how you want to live. You’re not living in fantasy or hiding from things because your ego is too delicate, or blaming other people for your own deficiencies. You’re just tackling every challenge head-on, in the spirit of a hero. By living this way, you create an environment filled with like-minded, mentally strong people, each with a strong sense of identity and purpose. Each of you feels a sense of excellence because you're showing up as your better self, all the time.

Someone who lives in this way doesn’t just succeed, they thrive.

Implicit vs explicit bias

In addition to having a certain type of mindset, we also have biases to contend with. Our biases are forged by our personalities and experiences, and there are two different types: implicit bias, which is unconscious and reveals itself in our actions, and explicit bias, which we already know about and can reflect on.

Essentially, our biases are our deep-seated beliefs and values, and they influence our mindset. If you believe you’re a no-good failure who has never done anything right in your life, you create a fixed mindset where everything is dangerous, and nothing can be changed. On the other hand, if you’re lucky enough to have had kind, supportive parents who created a safe environment for you, you’re ripe for a growth mindset, where you can tackle challenges and grow. The goal here is to narrow the gap between your implicit and explicit bias—to become more aware of who you are, deep-down in your subconscious, so that the implicit becomes explicit. If you discover certain things about yourself that you don’t like (such as a fixed mindset), you can try to change them, and become a better person. Your actions can become less driven by your implicit biases, and more driven by the person you want to be.

How to develop a growth mindset

To develop a growth mindset, you need to fail quickly and repeatedly. And this needs to happen gradually, so that you build a solid foundation that creates a sense of safety—you can’t jump into the deep end if you don’t know how to swim!

If you’re brave enough to face challenges, and you gradually increase those challenges in line with your skill, you’ll grow. It doesn’t matter how much natural talent you have—people with little talent and few resources can excel if they have a growth mindset. They may seem more talented on the surface, but if you look deeper, you’ll discover that it was their mindset that led them to success. You’re able to move further, and get there faster.

"Fail fast, and fail often. You just can't get to growth if you won't face the things preventing you from moving forward."
—Steve Anderson

Reflection is also incredibly important. None of us is perfect—we all have implicit biases that frame our thoughts and influence our actions, often to our detriment. If you’re not facing challenges with the right frame of mind, you need to pause, and discover why that might be. Do you feel unsafe? If so, why? What is preventing you from taking that courageous step forward, and how can you remedy it? If you notice that your implicit and explicit biases don’t match, it’s futile to beat yourself up about it. The important thing is that you’ve noticed the mismatch, and are willing to figure out how to bring them closer together. This mismatch creates a kind of psychological tension between your desires and reality, and you can either try to ignore the tension, or do something about it.

Much of this is about deciding whom you want to be, and how you want to be remembered (more on this below). This is a journey of self-discovery that can happen over decades, and when you have a clear idea of your purpose in life, you can start taking the appropriate steps, reminding yourself that you are a work in progress.

Creating a growth mindset culture

If you’re trying to instil a growth mindset in a team, or creating a growth mindset culture,  you need to demonstrate the mindset yourself and exhibit it in every facet of your leadership. Realise that your relationship with the team isn’t about your performance, but the performance of the team itself. You must do everything you can to help them succeed, this includes:

  • Providing suitably-tough challenges
  • Educating them on growth mindset traits
  • Praising growth mindset behaviours, and discouraging fixed mindset behaviours
  • Constantly emphasising the idea that their growth is entirely in their hands; that their failures are restricted to their performance only, and not to their entire being.

As a leader, your team will follow your example, so your actions can help to create a thriving team environment. With enough time, the team will evolve and become a reflection of yourself, with a growth mindset that drives them to success.

How does your ego effect a growth mindset?

Your ego can either work with you or against you. It’s what gets you off the couch and drives you to succeed, but your mindset determines whether it’s “healthy” or not. With a fixed mindset, where your achievements are based on anchoring yourself in a chaotic world, or only to win the respect of others, you’re a slave to your ego. Rather than your ego being a tool that you use to succeed, in a fixed mindset, your ego can take over and turn you into a tool. But with a growth mindset, your ego becomes a potent way for you to shine—to contribute something important to the world, and achieve your deepest-felt goals. 

"You need a healthy ego to get off the couch and do something, to chase something, to want to shine."
—Steve Anderson

Australian rugby league legend Michael De Vere once said to Steve Anderson: "you have to have an inner arrogance, and an outward humility." What he means is that you need a healthy ego to drive you forward, achieving goals for the sake of your own growth, while demonstrating humility to the people around you. Nobody likes a show-off!

The connection between a growth mindset and purpose

Our purpose pulls us forward, and many of us have unique purposes across each facet of our lives. You can have a purpose that makes you a good father; a purpose that serves you as an inspiring leader; a purpose that makes you a trustworthy friend. And if these purposes are clear in our mind, and we’ve considered what we need to do to achieve them, they guide our actions and help us bring them to light. They’re reflective because they’re always in the background, while also being directive and driving us forward.

"When something is aligned with your purpose and ability, you are that thing."
—Steve Anderson

The growth mindset includes a feeling of being “safe” enough to take on challenges, which can be achieved in a psychologically healthy way, so we’re much more likely to live by our deepest purposes. There’s no danger for us to avert—we’re free to live in the exact way that we want to live, with the meaning and purpose that we’ve chosen for ourselves. We flourish as a result, and feel that every cell in our body has a purpose that is entirely our own. There’s no external force driving us—the approval of our peers, the promise of a pay rise, or the wrath of an almighty God—it’s simply our motivation; a reflection of our desire to live according to our own values, and no one else's.

"When you're living your higher purpose, you're experiencing a sense of excellence. You're showing up as your better self all the time."
—Steve Anderson

People with fixed mindsets can feel as though they’re living in survival mode. They’re constantly under threat, so spend the better part of their lives seeking safety. You can imagine the effect this has on their quality of life, and how it destroys their ability to achieve (or even consider) a higher purpose. They constantly strive to keep themselves and their egos safe, but never really achieve much, and so are left with a sense that there must be something more to life than this. But for someone with a growth mindset, striving often doesn’t feel like work, because it’s their passion—their very purpose in life. It’s the thing you’re inspired to do for hours at a time without a break; when you’re lost in a state of blissful flow, and everything else ceases to exist aside from the thing in front of you.

Final thoughts

The growth mindset can do wonderful things for us. It helps us to achieve greater things, and achieve them for our own sake, rather than the approval of others. When paired with a clear purpose, this can create a joyful sense of fulfilment, where we’re living honestly, and unmistakably on the right track.

We’d like to thank Steve for his sharp insights into the topic and hope you enjoyed reading them.

If you'd like to follow Steve's social profiles (you should!), you can find them here: Instagram, LinkedIn. Steve has also created an online course that teaches you to take control in a business crisis, which you can find at Future Ready Economy.

Further reading & research

If you'd like to learn more about the concepts discussed in this article, check out these resources:


 

Interview Transcript With Steve Anderson

Quick Links

  1. Introduction & Welcome
  2. Understanding Growth & Fixed Mindsets
  3. Psychology Of A Fixed Mindset
  4. Limits Of A Fixed Mindset
  5. Ego Or Tactics Can Lead People To Disguise A Growth Mindset
  6. The Growth Mindset Continuum
  7. Training A Growth Mindset & Forgiving Yourself
  8. Recognising The Gap Between Your Implicit & Explicit Biases
  9. Understanding Your Implicit Biases
  10. Why Wouldn't I Just Put My Best Self Foward?
  11. Why Does Your Subconscious Try To Hold You Back?
  12. How Can You Learn To Respond Differently?
  13. How To Live More In A Growth Mindset?
  14. Grow Into Something You Haven't Proven Yet
  15. Harnessing Your Ego To Propel Your Growth
  16. Humility Honours The Growth Process
  17. Aligning Legacy & Purpose To Guide Your Growth
  18. Get 'Thriving' To Unlock Your Legacy
  19. What Does Success Look Like With A Growth Mindset?
  20. Be Conscious Of The Mindset Of Those Around You
  21. How To Create A Growth Mindset Team Culture
  22. Final Tips To Help You Live In A Growth Mindset
  23. It's All About Possibility


Introduction & Welcome

Alistair Roberts
Hello and welcome. I'm Alistair Roberts, the founder of Media Heroes and I'm here today with a good friend of mine, Steve Anderson. We're going to be discussing the concept of growth mindset in sport and business, and the effect this can have on your journey and your success.

Alistair Roberts
Before we start, I want to introduce you to Steve, for those of you who don't know him. Steve Anderson is a great friend of mine, plus he's an Olympic Gold Medal coach, a thought leader, social entrepreneur, and author of the book, "The Challenge Makes The Champion". Steve coached five Olympic Games so far in the great sport of beach volleyball, winning the 2000 Gold and '96 Bronze Olympic Medals, and the FIVB Team of the Decade Award and way too many other accolades to mention. He's joining us today from the Blue Mountains just outside of Toronto. Welcome, Steve. 

Steve Anderson  
Thank you, man. Well, good to be here Alistair. I'm really looking forward to talking with you and getting into this topic.

Understanding Growth & Fixed Mindsets

Alistair Roberts  
Perfect. Well, let's jump into the growth mindset. Obviously, you're really familiar with this as a concept and you've used it a lot in your coaching and to create a framework for successful people. Just for those who aren't familiar with the growth mindset, I can provide a brief overview.

Alistair Roberts  
The concept of fixed and growth mindset stems from Stanford Psychologist, Carol Dweck. She was the author of, "A New Psychology Of Success", and that kind of spurred this whole concept into the forefront. A fixed mindset is really where people assume that their character, their intelligence, their creative ability - they are all static and they can't really change in a meaningful way. So, whether they see success or failure in their lives, they perceive that these outcomes are really an affirmation of whatever they were given to start with. They tend to strive for success and avoid failure to maintain their status quo and how they think of themselves. Correspondingly, the growth mindset is seen in someone who thrives on challenge. They see failure, not as evidence of unintelligence or lack of ability, but really as an opportunity for growth and to stretch their abilities. So that's kind of a basic summary. Steve, is that how you see the concepts? Is there a difference in that those definitions that you've seen?

Steve Anderson  
No, it's exactly what I see and it's interesting watching people who achieve at a certain level.  With the fixed mindset and what drives them, there's a lot of status behind it - it's a lot of looking good. It's not really a lot of wanting to be challenged or wanting to stretch and grow like in a growth mindset. What I found is that it's really about them. It's like a confirmation bias. It's them confirming who they think they are a lot of the time, how they achieve, what they achieve and how they perform. They interpret that as who they are. So they're really in this tricky position, where it's very difficult for them to be vulnerable and to even attempt things. It's hard for them to even consider something that they don't believe that they can do because instead of them saying, "oh I failed at this thing", it becomes, "I'm a failure". So, it's an interesting thing.

Alistair Roberts  
So is that like an internalization of things that happened on the outside? They're thinking, "I wasn't successful in this activity, therefore, I feel like I'm not a success". Is that kind of how that translates into their psychology?

Psychology Of A Fixed Mindset

Steve Anderson  
Yeah, it's because they are their performance. They're not really seeing their own potential for growth, they don't believe that they can grow. I mean fixed mindset is exactly what it is. They think that they are what they are. And this is it. This is their whole potential, so if it doesn't fit their paradigm of the world, if they don't see it in their abilities, then it really threatens their being. When you look at what's underneath it, the fixed mindset is really a way for them to protect themselves. And it's amazing.

Steve Anderson  
Some people can achieve, relatively high achievements with this fixed mindset, especially if they're narcissistic and they have some other things that kind of help them to be unreasonable. But they won't step outside of it, they won't allow themselves to be vulnerable, and they don't like to be challenged and they don't like to be judged. You can really see a fixed mindset and regardless of what achievements they have, they're not reaching their maximum potential. They're not growing into not being their best selves and it's hard to not judge it. You want to say, "Come on, doesn't everybody want to be their best selves?", but sometimes it's not safe for a person because they can't cope, as they attach their performance to their identity. It's not safe for them to be vulnerable, and take a risk and fail because they internalize it and they see themselves as the failure, not just their performance.

Limits Of A Fixed Mindset

Alistair Roberts  
So, you're talking about people with a fixed mindset that do achieve great success. So have you seen this at an Olympic level, World Tour level or even in entrepreneurship? Have you seen people that mostly have a fixed mindset, who still achieve that at that level? Or do you think at some point that they have to come to terms with changing to a growth mindset to get to that next point? Is this sort of success with a fixed mindset just unsustainable, so maybe they can reach a certain point, but they can't sustain it? Where does a fixed mindset start to affect performance at that highest level?

Steve Anderson  
Yeah, my personal experience is that you can't do anything great without allowing yourself to be challenged. You have to be stretched, and a fixed mindset just really won't allow that to happen. They'll sabotage themselves and their whole environment to save their ego. So, you know, it's interesting, I've seen people who look like they might have a fixed mindset and, but they're really just narcissistic. And so they want to look good, and they have to look good, and they'll do anything to preserve that. But if you look, it's kind of like an act. They realize that they have to stretch and grow in order to get to the level that they want to get to. So it's just painful for them. You know, they're fighting and kicking the whole way and trying to save face, but at the end of the day, they do the work.

Ego Or Tactics Can Lead People To Disguise A Growth Mindset

Alistair Roberts  
So, the issue isn't as simple as categorising people into a growth mindset or a fixed mindset,  because they can go through periods of time where they are wrestling with that. The concept of safety is an interesting one because safety could be an element of their 'public face' versus what they do privately. Are there cases where people appear to have a fixed mindset in a public environment, maybe in a training, squad or team environment, but privately they go away and do the work and they do the growth when no one else can see it? Is that a trait you see with some people or not really?

Steve Anderson  
Yeah, when no one else can see it. You also see this in another way, where internally a high achiever may respect someone who's in a coaching role. They may have respect for them, but in public, they show disdain and contempt. It's really a status thing or an ego thing, but it's also a tactic. They may dismiss someone, but they're really learning the lesson, they're actually paying attention. I find this really interesting and I've seen this a few times. You'll have someone who's a rapport leader, so however they respond, the whole group is going to respond that way. This is the tactic; the rapport leader will be disrespectful with someone who will be sharing some knowledge - an expert, and they'll dismiss them. Then the whole group turns their back and treats that person like, "Oh, you offer no value", but the rapport leader is getting the lessons, they have their ears open. They'll actually use that information for their own benefit, and everyone else loses because they think the disrespect is genuine. But if you really pay attention, you'll actually see, you'll catch them in moments where you'll see them in intense concentration really trying to get the lesson. They'll try to dismiss it, but you have to grow to achieve at a high level. How you do it, that's up to you. It looks different for everybody.

The Growth Mindset Continuum

Alistair Roberts  
So, would it be safe to say that a fixed mindset and a growth mindset is actually a continuum? Some people are authentically in a growth mindset and they very rarely exhibit a fixed mindset. Whereas, other people are largely in a fixed mindset and they only enter the growth mindset when they absolutely have to. This means that most of us exist somewhere on this continuum, rather than being able to define people as either being in a fixed or growth mindset. Would that be an accurate way to describe it?

Steve Anderson  
I think so. It's almost like saying, "Who is always at their best? Who always feels great? Who's always at a point in life where everything's working?". So we kind of go in this ebb and flow in our mindset. I can recall times where I've equated my performance to my identity, and for the good and for the bad. Sometimes there are certain things that you give to yourself, and I talked about safety. Something else I'd look at is polyvagal theory and also implicit versus explicit biases and what happens when there's a conflict. What I boil it down to is, when we really feel unsafe, we don't show up as our best selves. We're in fight, flight or freeze. So, what's going on with our mindset? What kind of mindset, are we in, at that moment? When we're challenged, people react differently.

Training A Growth Mindset & Forgiving Yourself

Steve Anderson  
I've been able to work with people and they expand their capacity for feeling safe. Something challenges them, they're afraid, they're uncertain. With the growth mindset, they're able to see it as an opportunity for growth and, as unpleasant as it is, they realize that they're going to get through this, they're going to be better off. Whereas if you can't take it in, you can get stuck. Maybe everyone at some point in life has felt this way, where you come up to a challenge, and you just get stuck. You just contract and retreat. And people get stuck in there. You've known me for a long time and after I got divorced, for example, I was really questioning myself and really questioning my own character. I was in a, let's call it a fixed mindset, where I wasn't seeing life as an opportunity, I wasn't seeing challenges as a way to expand myself, and I was internalizing a lot of things. I think people can be in a fixed mindset where how life is showing up 'is me', instead of life is showing up the way it is. I myself know how I interact with it, how I play with it, how I accept the challenge. You know there's a difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset I think in the real world. In the real world, the questions is, "Where are you mentally and emotionally?", and "Are you taking life personally?", or is it just life, showing up, and you get to interpret it?

Alistair Roberts  
So as well as people being on a continuum, they can change and move on that continuum over time. But you're also saying that none of us are perfect. There are times in life where we're going to find it easier to be in that growth mindset and that may be through circumstance or it may be through our own doing. This is more of a concept to be able to use and understand. When I want to be my best self, there are certain things that I want to particularly emphasize and if I'm not showing up to challenges the way I want to, to work out why that might be happening. To actually be able to reflect and go, "Do I feel unsafe?". If so, "Why?", "What is it that's preventing me from taking that step or going for those challenges that I'm sort of shying away from?". Would that be a reasonable summation of kind of what you're expressing?

Steve Anderson  
Yeah, and that may be how we even express ourselves in the world. What happens when you're in that dark room? When you're not interacting with anyone. You know, it's one thing to get up, go out and have to interact. You'll see people who, let's say that they're even depressed, but when it's time to go to work, they can muster up enough focus and energy to go off work, to do whatever it is that they need to do, to appear to be relatively normal to their co-workers, and then they come home and can't get out of the bed.

Recognising The Gap Between Your Implicit & Explicit Biases 

Steve Anderson  
I find it really fascinating the way implicit and explicit biases work in this too and the gap between those biases. I find it fascinating to see this in life and I like to look at it. How does this gap fit into life? I look at all these models and sport is this one area where we can test this, like a little laboratory. It really shows up in life and I'm looking at myself recently and my implicit biases. Now, the fact that it's implicit, means I'm not even necessarily aware of it, I can just witness it in my behaviour or in my results. Once something shows up consistently, then something's going on there. Then, I can notice my bias or it can be pointed out to me by other people or by life.

Steve Anderson  
The real problem is that I've created myself. I've got this explicit bias of who I am and how I've built myself and these values I've shaped. I think these values are different from the ones I had as a kid living in Kentucky. I'm now more travelled and I think I'm this person, I've got all these experiences. But then I behave in a way that's driven by my implicit biases and this is not consistent with who I think I am and with the explicit biases that I can identify in my conscious mind. Now I have this conflict because I'm not showing up the way I think I am, or as who I think I am. I have this conflict. You see people do this all the time. I show up the way I think I am, but then I get challenged my implicit bias shows up. I'm not even talking about safety. I might have this hidden belief that I'm able to manage in most circumstances, then I get challenged, and it pops up. But it's such a mismatch of who I believe myself to be today. I shock myself. I disappoint myself. You know, I can't believe that this is me.

Alistair Roberts  
So this is almost like when the challenge shows up, you're less able to consciously manage your implicit biases. By observing your behaviour when your true implicit biases show up,  you can see you're still this person, you still believe these things deep down, which is an opportunity to grow. For anyone who's not familiar with implicit and explicit bias, do you want to just give a quick summary of what you mean by implicit and explicit bias? 

Steve Anderson  
There's implicit bias, which I liken to your subconscious. So the implicit bias would be, who I really am. It could be influenced by my epigenetics, like, even before I was born. It could be nature-nurture, some trauma, experiences, or anything that has me form a belief about the world, some bias. Now the interesting thing about it is it lives in my subconscious, so I'm not even necessarily aware that this bias lives in me. It shows up in my behaviour.

Steve Anderson  
Explicit biases being the ones that I know, these are how I express myself in the world. Through experience, through education, and through self-reflection I create who I am, my values, my identity, all this sort of stuff. That's how I present myself to the world and I can consciously do this. I've created myself in a conscious way. I can do this most of the time, but something comes up, and then you see the implicit bias. This thing that lives in my subconscious just pops out, because that's who I am in my core. The goal is to narrow the gap.

Understanding Your Implicit Biases

Alistair Roberts  
In the context of mindset, people with a fixed mindset could say, "My implicit bias is just me, I can't change that. It's just who I am, I was born with it" and "These experiences are things that I can't change now. I just have to move on and try my best in the world".  On the other hand, the growth mindset would say, "Those implicit biases, they can be changed. You can narrow that gap." So, you can narrow the gap by reducing or lessening your explicit bias to accept your implicit bias as relatively fixed (fixed mindset). Alternatively, you can move your implicit bias towards the person you want to become (growth mindset). So, what's the process for changing your implicit bias if that's the thing that shows up under challenge? How do you use a growth mindset to alter those core values, those subconscious thoughts?

Steve Anderson  
So this is where it really gets interesting for me and look at something like psychology. So, first of all, imagine I'm not even aware that I have this implicit bias. I get to witness it, I get to see it, but I'm not even really aware that it's there. I'm just experiencing it. So, I keep acting in a way that I don't expect myself to act, and after the fact I'm upset with myself, I can't believe it, I vowed never to do it again. But sure enough, here it comes again because it's me.

Alistair Roberts  
And what's an example of an implicit bias that you've seen in others or you've noticed something that a real element or value that you've seen show up in people that might hold them back?

Steve Anderson  
I'll give a good example from my personal life. It is about racism which is really a hot topic, but I just happen to grow up in Kentucky, so it's something I'm very aware of. It's kind of a funny little light story, but it shows a bias playing beach volleyball. Growing up in the States, when I moved out to LA. People would tell black jokes. Now, it's interesting, right, because normally you don't tell a black joke to a black guy. You tell it to somebody else who's not black and you laugh. Black people, we tell jokes about white people, you know as everybody tells jokes about everybody else. Now, it's funny, but you might hear yourself say something that reveals an implicit bias. People used to call me 'Black Steve' or 'Jumping Steve'. Now, this is an interesting thing when you think about it. So you're trying to describe some guy, he plays volleyball, there's not a lot of black guys playing volleyball. And so Steve, you know, 'Black Steve', so that that doesn't sound like a bad thing, or 'Jumping Steve', because from a stereotype, all black guys jump high, and this is back in the back in the 80s. I did use to jump high and I am black, so, you know, it's not like they were making it up. So, if I'm there, they go, "Oh, Black Steve". No big deal. Let's say something happens. I'm talking to one of my friends, and they say something about getting cut off in traffic. And we'll just use something innocent, they get cut off that day by some black guy in traffic, and they're talking to me, and they make some comment, and the comments, it's a negative comment about black people. They're not even thinking about it, now they've got black friends, here I am, a black friend. They're not racist, they don't consider themselves to be racist, and I don't know if it's racism, might be, may not be, but it's definitely a bias. And the bias is that black people are 'something', and that bias doesn't live overtly all the time. It's just this little thing, that kind of sits back there.

Steve Anderson  
Now here's the way it manifests. You own a company, you go to hire somebody. And it's just this little bit of distrust, that's hanging there. This is the bias. This is something that drives your thinking drives your behaviour. It just sits there. Sometimes it shows up. It might seem humorous or it might seem innocent. Sometimes, usually, when you threatened, it shows up and it's got teeth. It's got some real teeth, it might show up when there's a threat.

Steve Anderson  
I have a friend, a white friend of mine, he's got lots of black friends. He's been in very dangerous neighbourhoods in South Africa and Brazil with lots of people of colour. He's been invited there, and he tells this story. He's just walking down his neighbourhood, one day and he sees a group of black guys. And for whatever reason he gets worried. He can't figure out why he's worried. He wants to cross the street because he thinks some of these black guys are some sort of threat to him. But instead of crossing the street, he walks up to the black guys, and he says to them, "Hey guys, hello", radadada, and he goes, "You know what, the craziest thing, I'm walking and I just felt really weird. Like you guys were gonna do something to me or whatever and I realized", and they're looking at him like he's crazy. He's like, "I realized it had nothing to do with you, it had to do with me". He had a really great conversation and he calls me up and goes, "Hey, I'm a racist, who knew", you know, the whole bit. We had an amazing conversation about it, and it gave me a realization. We all have biases. Anybody in my mind, anybody who grew up in North America, definitely is a racist. It may be, internal, it may not be black and white, it may be Asian, it may be Muslim, it could be anything. But, our society is a supremacist society. It's based off supremacy. Someone has to be better than the other, and we're constantly competing with each other. It may be because that person's overweight, it may be because that person doesn't have education, whatever it is, there's some bias that society is reinforcing all the time. And this is impacting on us, and we see it show up in our behaviour and we'll say something like, "Oh, jeez, that was me". I will do something and look back on it, and it feels like a fluke but sometimes we betray ourselves. We see that we can't deny it, that's me. When the implicit and explicit don't match, now we have a conflict, you have a real conflict, and what do we do? One thing we do is we blame other people. Oh, you made me like that, you made me do that. We deflect.

Alistair Roberts  
So these implicit biases that we're talking about. You could group them as beliefs, deep-seated beliefs and values. I mean, the examples you've given are incredible ones. The biases in relation to racism will definitely affect people's lives and the lives of those around them in an enormous way. 

Why Wouldn't I Just Put My Best Self Foward?

Alistair Roberts  
What about other examples of biases that affect performance? One of the things that affect people striving for high performances is potentially a fear of failure, for example, or a self-belief that, "Am I good enough for this", or "Am I worthy of this?" What would be examples of implicit bias in terms of a deep-seated belief of, "Am I good enough?" or "Do I deserve this?, or when it comes to the crunch, "Is it going to be within me?" Are these the type of bias-based questions that you see in sports performance and in business as well?

Steve Anderson  
I think it's all interrelated man. I think you picked a great topic here because when it comes down to it, it's about performance, being my best. I mean, if I fail, what is it? I just grow, I learn, you know. So, why wouldn't I just put my best self forward and see where I land, and then get a really accurate estimation of my abilities, and then grow from there and get better results? That's logical. So there has to be something that prevents me from doing that. And I think it's the stuff that we're talking about like the whole polyvagal theory stuff. When I don't feel safe, my brain goes offline, I go back to my lizard brain and it's about survival, and these are all survival tactics. My subconscious brain is trying to keep me alive, it's trying to talk me out of stuff all the time. It makes sense that, "Hey, you need to belong to this group. So, be quiet. Don't step out", you know? "Oh, if you do that, they'll think you're weird or odd", and you'll lose some safety. If you really think about it, it wouldn't seem that unusual when we play small. If we don't take the risk, we don't make ourselves vulnerable, because that threatens our survival. The subconscious mind is trying to talk to our conscious mind, it's trying to talk us out of stuff that threatens us.

Why Does Your Subconscious Try To Hold You Back?

Steve Anderson  
So here's the problem with psychology that I see that makes it tough to get some real change, especially when I'm working with high performance. We don't have 50 years or 20 years, you know. We're going to need to make some big gains in a short period of time. So, the problem with the implicit biases or the subconscious is, I'm not aware of a lot of that stuff. I can't change it from my conscious mind. Here's what I see in sport. We'll do all this work, and they're doing it in the conscious mind and their psychology and everything is working great. But then their safety gets threatened, usually in a big competition or some moment where they're really challenged. At this point, the blood stops flowing to their prefrontal cortex and they go into their lizard brain because they're in survival mode. In moments like this, we find ourselves fighting, running away, or freezing. It's a nervous response, but we're still thinking that we should be able to think our way out of it, and we can't. We're witnessing ourselves react when it's really a safety response. When you're in the performance zone, you just do. This means you might fight when it's inappropriate or you'll freeze or you'll try to get out of it and do something that doesn't help you to be successful. While this is happening, you're watching yourself do it and you've trained something else, and it's just not happening. All this time you're trying to think your way through it and you can't, you just can't. Then once you feel safe again and your brain comes back online, then of course you can do it. There's no threat. Now you're judging yourself. It's like you think you only have one mind happening but really, you got this implicit subconscious conflict with the conscious mind and your subconscious took over to try to protect you and keep you safe and to get you out of there. You freeze until the danger's gone, fight your way out, whatever your subconscious knows how to do to try to help you out of danger.

How Can You Learn To Respond Differently?

Steve Anderson  
I try to increase a person's capacity, their perception of safety. So that when they're challenged, it doesn't feel like a life threat, and they can still access all of their training preparation. They can stay in their prefrontal cortex and they can think their way through it, even though it's hard. They're under pressure, but it's not threatening their safety. It might even be dangerous, but they don't have the perception of, "I'm going to die here", and "I got to get out of here".

Alistair Roberts 
So people can learn to be aware of the traits of a growth mindset and to emphasize those traits in challenging situations, by stretching their perception of safety. You've got to try it and experiment with it, and as you do that, you can be more comfortable in that growth mindset. So, how do you see people practically living more in the growth mindset?

How To Live More In A Growth Mindset?

Steve Anderson  
Well, my experience is that conversation works best for people who are already in a growth mindset. If you have the ability to be in a growth mindset, and you're struggling, you can find your way back into a growth mindset, especially with support. You know, with some success. By setting yourself up for success.

Steve Anderson  
But if all you know is a fixed mindset, then you can only achieve up to a certain point, but not to the point where it threatens your safety, then think about this. If I want to look good, I'll achieve some things, especially if I'm supported with a big ego, or narcissism or something like that. I can think really unreasonably. I think I'm better than you. I think I deserve this. I can really justify why I should give a big effort and why should win here. It's only a problem when I'm confronted with the truth. Think about high confidence players in sport. They've got a big ego, they're strutting around the court, the whole thing right. But when they get truly challenged look at how they tuck the tail, they are trying to get out of there and they're blaming other people. Their egos can't take the truth that they're not good enough and that they're not their image. They will do almost anything to protect their ego in this situation, they will hurt themselves, they will blow up on their partner blaming them, they'll do anything they can do so that it's not them. So that's a tough situation. Those people can achieve at a high level, but when you look at sustainable excellence, you're going to have to face yourself. For those people to be successful, even if they pretend not to pay attention, they're going to have to allow themselves to be stretched. They're going to have to see the challenge, as their access to excellence. They don't have to admit it to anyone. But that's what it is. I don't see how they can get around it, because in a learning environment of excellence, you're around other capable people. You're not around weak people, your competitors aren't weak they're strong.

Alistair Roberts  
Yeah. The higher level you get, whether it's in sport as an athlete or in business,  you're then surrounded by people who are also in pursuit of excellence. When you're at a low level then you aren't challenged in the same way, right?

Grow Into Something You Haven't Proven Yet

Steve Anderson  
Yeah, when I say you can fake performance but you can't fake results. So you know that whole saying, 'fake it till you make it'. I don't like that saying. I reframed it to, 'fake it while you make it'. I can accept that. But I still don't like it, because I've experienced the 'faking it till you make it', and then you make it and you go, "Oh I faked it. That was fake, it wasn't really me". But, here's the thing, you can use a mind trick like, 'fake it till you make it', to allow your ego to accept you being something that you haven't proven yet. Something that you grow into. So you can say, 'fake it till you make it', and you can do all the actions of that thing and give yourself the opportunity to get performance and as you get performance, then you can accept it. You can accept the belief, "Oh, I am this identity", so it's a tool. But you can't always fake it. You can try to use that tool all you want, but if you don't have the ability to get that result, no amount of 'faking it' is going to get you there. 

Alistair Roberts  
You still have to do the work at the end of the day to be able to get there.

Harnessing Your Ego To Propel Your Growth

Alistair Roberts  
The role of ego is an interesting one and we talked about it a couple of times already.  A lot of people will associate ego with arrogance, and I suppose, ego as a concept is maybe a little bit more than that. You can define ego simply as a person's sense of self, or their sense of self-importance, or even the part of the mind that is the regulation between conscious and unconscious. It's responsible for your identity and it's responsible for testing reality against this self-perception. So, do you think a lot of the time ego is arrogance or identity? How do you see ego?

Steve Anderson  
Yeah, I think ego's a tool. Mick De Vere, who played for the Broncos, said something that made a lifelong impression on me. Mick, if you're listening to this, "Hello". I don't know if he knows this, but he said something that was profound for me, he said, "You have to have an inner arrogance and an outward humility". In the brief time that I spent with Mick, I experienced him that way. He is one of the most humble men and works hard. His whole story with the Broncos and how he moved from New South Wales just as a practice player. He worked his way onto the team and went on to be one of the best all-time players. He became the first guy to get a pro contract in the UK, all that sort of stuff and just a humble man, but think about it. To think you can be the best in the world at anything or that you, out of all the millions, are the one to be able to be to do this thing better than anyone else, it's arrogance. So, you need a healthy ego to get off the couch and to do something, to chase something, to contribute something, to want to shine. But if your ego drives you, then you're a slave to your ego. The ego is this tool that you can use to help you project yourself into the future and dare to be big. That's where I think the ego is really useful. But when it drives you and when you are a slave to it and you have to act a certain way, and whatever you do it's never good enough. The ego's tricky because whenever there's any sort of threat it runs away and hides in the closet. But when there's credit to take, it wants to be the one who's taking the credit. So, it's not a good friend.

Alistair Roberts  
A deep-seated belief that you can be good enough to achieve whatever goal it is you're setting yourself is inner confidence. It's a form of arrogance to think it can be me that can be that person or win that gold medal, but that's different from the ego taking over and saying, "Well, in order to be that person we've got to look a certain way, all the time", which can then take you into that fixed mindset where looking good is more important than growth. So, you're really balancing the ego as a tool to harness and being aware of when it's taking you into a more of a fixed mindset in certain situations.

Steve Anderson  
Yeah, so you've got to figure out who's the tool. If you're the tool, you show up like a tool, right? If your ego's using you, you show up like a tool. You've got to really look at how all these things overlap. I think this is why the topic you picked is really fascinating man. It's not like all these things are independent, they all contribute to each other. If you see your ego as a tool and as an asset it will help you grow, it will give you the ability to imagine yourself in a way that you have no right to imagine yourself. You haven't earned that, you haven't built that, you're not that thing, yet. It's in your potential, maybe, you don't know, but your ego allows you to dare to take that identity before you are that thing and then you can live into it. So it really goes out into the future and claims, "This is me", and then you get to catch up with that.

Alistair Roberts  
The growth mindset means believing that your abilities or your intelligence or your skills can be changed, and actually embracing the journey of change rather than having to measure yourself on each individual action that you're doing and relating that directly to your identity. It's freeing yourself between performance and identity and allowing yourself to believe, "My identity is that I am growing and I am improving towards these goals", and that becomes more important than how I look and how I show up today.

Humility Honours The Growth Process

Steve Anderson  
Yeah, exactly. You know the way I interpreted what Mick said about outward humility? When he first said it, my brain went to, "Are you faking humility?". Do you mean, "I'm really arrogant and fake it"? But after thinking about it, I believe outward humility is the way that you interact with your world. It's the way you express yourself, with humility. It's this paradox of daring to believe and seeing myself as my potential, while being grounded and humble enough to say, "I'm not that, I'm becoming that. This is a process". Just being able to live into it. I think it's a real combination of declaring something, dreaming, daring to be something that I have no proof that I can be yet, combined with honouring the process and having the humility to do the work. Humility honours the process. Even after I become that thing and I'm living as that thing, I retain the humility to know that this was always in me. There's nothing special about what I just did. We all have this potential. I'm just, I'm just honouring my potential and I'm honouring this process. This framework of humility just keeps creating more humility. I think this is just about the way we can choose to interact with the world. We interact with the world with humility, but allow ourselves to dare to declare something. Not just think about doing something, but actually declare it to ourselves. I am this thing, I am my potential, I am my desire. You're just not going to be able to fake it. You can't say, "I think I can do that, let's see". You have an inner knowing. When something's in line with your purpose, and in line with your ability, you know you are that thing. It's not an outward arrogance like, "I'm better than you", it's an inner arrogance to say, "I recognize myself. I recognize my potential to become that".

Aligning Legacy & Purpose To Guide Your Growth

Alistair Roberts  
An interesting thing you touched on there is purpose because having a growth mindset means that you're on a journey to become something else, to improve yourself. So a fixed mindset can be a case of more of a, "I'm here to protect what I already have", or "I'm committed to defending my view of myself or my identity and my deep-seated beliefs". So, how can you use purpose as a tool to kind of propel you into a growth mindset? How do you see purpose and growth mindset as having a connection?

Steve Anderson  
Purpose and legacy. Legacy is the intersection between purpose and growth and the way that I use legacy is directive, so it's not reflective. The directive legacy is, "What is the legacy I want to be attached to this thing, this growth, this accomplishment?". You have to explore that question before even starting the journey and before you define it or quantify it. Once I understand the legacy and the real deep outcome for myself and others that I want, then I can use it as a guide. I can ask myself, "Is what I'm doing right now, getting me closer to this legacy or not?", and, "Are my actions in alignment with this legacy?". If it's not, it's a great opportunity to self-correct. It's just not my opportunity. The ultimate outcome is the legacy, which will exist when I'm long gone. Legacy asks, "How's this going to impact other people?", and, "How's it going to impact people for generations?". The legacy is then more important to me than a brief moment of pleasure or some satisfaction that I might experience.

Steve Anderson  
Legacy is completely tied to purpose for me. To me, our purpose pulls us forward and we have all different types of purposes. There are some purposes that serve me for the next year or two. I've got a purpose that serves me as a father. Well, my son is 12 and my purpose in fatherhood to him between 12 and 16 or 17, I imagine, is going to be different from my purpose as his father from 17 to 18 through his 20's, maybe early 30's. So that's one way of looking at purpose, but my higher purpose is me connected to source. It's my contribution to the whole. When I'm 'on purpose', I'm doing the thing that I'm here to do, because it's just in me to do it. Like every cell in our body has a purpose. I don't know why human beings think that we're exempt from all the rules in nature that everything else abides by. As human beings we have choice, but for some reason, people equate choice with believing they have don't have a purpose, because they get to choose. If I just look around me and I look at everything else in the universe, it comes with purpose, it has a job to do. I have a job to do, and I think it comes in the form of forms of my gifts, my abilities, my talent. The things that I'm driven to do. If I can get all those things to overlap and put them into work, then I'm living my purpose.

Alistair Roberts  
Moving towards the legacy that you want to create through living your purpose. Your legacy is kind of the endgame, what you want to leave behind, how you want to be remembered, how you want to impact the world. The connection between those is that if we think of the growth mindset; unless you are willing to have a growth mindset, you're probably not going to be able to be on that journey of a higher purpose. You're using purpose and legacy to take you outside of yourself, so that you're not tempted to fall back into a protective mindset in terms of how I see myself right now. How I'm viewed right now becomes way less important when you start to connect it with, how do I want to be remembered? What do I want to ultimately achieve, and what impact do I want to leave behind?

Steve Anderson  
Yeah.

Get 'Thriving' To Unlock Your Legacy

Steve Anderson  
I've got another system that I use to develop and it's about survival. Survive, strive and thrive. What it really comes down to is safety, health, and thriving. You know, living life in survival mode or constantly feeling unsafe, seeking safety; you can imagine the quality of life that is.  If you're not safe, the whole goal in life is to survive. I am not going to be on a higher purpose contributing my gifts if my whole life is just about keeping myself alive in this very unsafe situation. It's just total survival mode. So, to get to legacy, I have to get to thriving.

Steve Anderson  
Health is just the absence of illness or injury. We can have a very healthy life, where we're not threatened, but we're not really thriving. I call this striving. You see people who are always constantly striving and never really achieving, never really getting to the space where they can even focus on higher purpose because it feels like grind, grind, grind. They feel safe, but they know there's something more to life and they're not getting it. And the harder they grind, the harder they keep grinding, and they're just not getting it.

Steve Anderson  
Then there's striving and this is a place in life where you're not grinding, but you're achieving, you're successful, because you're making a contribution, and you're being renumerated for it. It doesn't feel like work, because it's not work, it's your passion. It's the thing that you're inspired to do, so you can do long hours.  It can be hard, it can be dangerous, but it feels right, it feels like, almost like play. And, you know, that's thriving.

Steve Anderson  
The crazy thing is, and I get athletes like this all the time, they come to me and they want to go straight to thriving, and they're not even safe. We have to have a foundation where when they're challenged they feel safe, but even then they're not necessarily healthy. Because they've experienced certain levels of success, moments of achievement, they think, "I'm thriving, I'm thriving". But if you look at the quality of their lives, their mental and emotional health, their physical health, their relationships. If you look at all the stuff in their lives that matter, you'll see how dysfunctional it is or how damaged it is because they're constantly looking for achievement. They haven't set a solid foundation to allow them to thrive. So we got to build it, we've got to build safety, and we have to be healthy, so we can get to thriving. You can't bypass it. I see people try to bypass it all the time, they try to go from being super unhealthy to on top of the world, and they'll do a lot of achievement and then they'll implode because the foundation is not there.

Alistair Roberts  
Yeah, that's another whole topic I think in that one, isn't it? It's pretty cool.

What Does Success Look Like With A Growth Mindset?

Alistair Roberts  
In terms of the connection with the growth mindset and thinking of examples of athletes or people that have really embraced the growth mindset. How have you seen this show up in their success? What does that look like when they're embracing the growth mindset and really achieving that success? In a real-world example, how does this influence their performance and who have you seen do that really well?

Steve Anderson  
Fail fast, fail often. You just can't get to growth if you won't face the things that are preventing you from moving forward. One of the things a growth mindset allows you to do is just to face the real deal. To face yourself. Like, "Oh, that's how I'm showing up right now". These are my abilities and now I can do something about that, I can make a change. I just get to move further faster, because I'm just dealing with what's real and I'm doing something about it. It's not even it's not talent or anything else. If someone doesn't face the challenges they need to face to move forward, and someone else with less talent or less ability is just constantly facing what's real and doing something about it, they're going to move forward, faster and farther. It's just what it is. So I think that's one big thing that it does for you when you have a growth mindset. You're able to move further faster.

Steve Anderson  
The other thing is you're able to be around quality people who will tell you the truth, and who can benefit you. Imagine someone is trying to help you, but you can't take their help and you keep shutting them down or you literally just can't use, you want to but you can't, you can't use the expertise that they have. First of all, no one with really high skills, and lots of experience and high results will constantly put themselves in a position where the person they're trying to help can't help themselves. So eventually, even if they want to, they have to allow you to just be where you are. You at least have to have the potential to use the expertise around you. That's what a growth mindset allows you to do, you can take criticism, you can take judgment. You only take it, but you can convert it into performance, and you can move forward. What you're doing is you're actually allowing experts to be in your presence and to begin to help you and you can have a team of champions. You can't have a team of champions when you're shutting down or micromanaging the people around you, because you can't hear the truth, or you can't use the truth to better yourself. There are so many different things that happen in a fixed mindset where your mental environment doesn't allow you to move forward fast. Whereas in a growth mindset, even if you have less talent, you'll benefit way more. You'll see people with less talent, fewer resources, come from crazy backgrounds, but because they have a growth mindset, they excel. They might look more talented but when you take a deeper look, what you see is, they were able to get better training, they were able to take that training and convert it into performance. They were able to do the things they were supposed to do, if it was physical training, whatever, they did it. And so they get the benefit of it. They just benefited from their environment and the people in their environment better than the person with the fixed mindset.

Be Conscious Of The Mindset Of Those Around You

Alistair Roberts  
So, when looking to mentors and people to help you and work with you, you being open to change and open to listening to them helps you to attract more of those people and to get more value from the people that you're already surrounded with. Do you think quality people who have knowledge and experience at some point in their lives, ask themselves, "How can I influence my own legacy?". Part of that can be sharing that knowledge with others and seeing success through others. They almost want to find people who are going to be open to listening to their ideas. Is that part of the concept that you attract more of these people naturally through a growth mindset?

Steve Anderson  
I believe so. I believe in science. It's not airy-fairy, it's scientific. I believe that 'like energy attracts like energy'. Just thinking about it from a psychological point of view, if you're a successful person, and you're dealing with the truth. You're saying the truth, you're dealing with the truth, you're doing something about it, you're taking action, and you're getting results. You're not dealing with fantasy or hiding from it. How much will you tolerate being around people who don't think this way? How much will you invest, whether it's physically investing money, being in a partnership, time-wise, or mentally and emotionally, whatever? How much will you invest in people who don't share those similar characteristics, who hide from the truth, blame others, afraid of growth? How much time and energy can you invest in that before it starts to impact on you? So it's almost like you have no choice but to put yourself in an environment that helps to nurture your success and fulfilment. If you want to be successful and sustain that success, you have to create that environment around yourself. I don't know if it's a conscious thing or not, maybe it is for some people and for some people, it's not, but what I find is that people self-select. Excellence is such a demanding environment. I'm not just talking about achievement, but when you are living your higher purpose, you're experiencing a sense of excellence, you're showing up as your better self all the time. Someone who's gloomy or afraid, they don't want to be around you. They really don't want to see you happy and fulfilled and on your higher purpose when they feel like they can't. They'll either try to sabotage you and dull you down. Come down here like a 'crab in a bucket' or they'll just choose not to be around you because it's literally too painful for them. Because when they look at you, they see a reflection of themselves, what I'm not. Even if they love you, they can't stand for you to be successful because they take it personally, so your success is their failure. They'll self-select, they'll get out of your environment, or they'll try to bring you down to their level, it's one or the other.

Alistair Roberts  
You probably would want to get away from their environment too because that's going to impact your own mindset. You're almost the sum of the people that you're surrounded by. So, if you're on a different trajectory in terms of your growth mindset and they're very fixed, neither one of you are going to want to be around the other.

Steve Anderson  
It's tough man, you'll see successful people in this dilemma. It might be their family, their parents or brothers and sisters, it might be their spouse, whatever. You'll see them struggling with this where they want the relationship, they love this person, but the relationship drains them. You'll see them try to manage it where they're taking it in doses, or they compartmentalize it or whatever, but it's having an impact. It's hard work. It's hard, hard work.

How To Create A Growth Mindset Team Culture

Alistair Roberts  
So let's explore this connection between your own growth mindset and the people around you in an elite sporting team environment or in business culture. Developing your own growth mindset hard enough, but how do you go about creating a growth mindset in a sporting team or in a business culture? You've been a coach of teams but also the head of programs and you've developed systematic changes in culture. So, how do you embed a growth culture or growth mindset within the culture of an elite team or a high-performance business team?

Steve Anderson  
This is one of the biggest responsibilities of leadership. The team will be whatever you are, that's just the reality because you control that environment. Not that you control every action, but if something is not congruent with the environment that you want as a leader, you'll, you'll attack it in some way or try to kill it. If something works within your environment, even if it's not helpful, but it goes along with the environment that you want to create, then you'll allow it. So it's really about getting clear on yourself as a leader, and what your mission is with that organization.

Steve Anderson  
That's why I use these things like legacy, where I can look at and use my personal performance. How do I perform? I might perform well and the company doesn't. This shows up in sport where a sporting organization is dysfunctional. The development program's in shambles, but maybe we have one or two teams that get high results. So because we have these one or two teams that get great results, the program looks like a success. Now let one of those athletes retire, or the teams take a downslope or whatever, and you see the program's not that great, but from the outside the program can look like it's functioning well for a while. In comparison, you can look at a sporting organisation and a development program that's thriving. The top tier program is thriving, the staff in their own personal lives and professional development, they're thriving. When the program's thriving, it's thriving, and it doesn't depend on me, so it can take on a life of its own. This means I'm constantly trying to replace myself and make myself redundant so that can go on to the next role, and replace myself with someone else who can take that over. If I get hit by a bus and the whole organization falls apart, then I did a poor job in leadership, so I need to build people up so that they're self-sufficient with their skills, they have ownership, and they're bought into the big picture. So once I'm clear on who I am as a leader and how I'm serving this organization, then that's what I can be. I can show up as that. If something's incongruent with that, with the whole system or the whole organization, then that's the thing that I work on eliminating. A lot of times, the best part about this is because people have ownership, they're the ones who call it out and eliminate it.

Steve Anderson  
You taught me this when you were working with PwC in their business development, and I use this all the time, 'the sniper'. So the first thing I do when I go in is I look for the sniper, the person or the group whoever, who really doesn't want the organization to grow or be successful because they have to play up. Yeah, and/or they're in control right now, they're the puppet master pulling the strings, and so they really want the organization to stay just as it is. Here you go, your fixed mindset. Because even if it's not thriving, they're comfortable, it's really about their benefit. So that's the problem with leadership, if it's about my benefit, and my performance, I can perform really well, and then the organization won't necessarily be thriving. So if it's about the organization thriving, then I've got to be the one who's going to create that environment, from the top down. So I have to live those values, I have to have that mindset and demonstrate it. If I'm going to talk about it, I have to demonstrate it. Then I'm not changing people, I'm creating an opportunity for them to thrive. When other people see them thriving, they want some of that and the people who don't want to thrive, they self-select, and the ones who don't self-select then we have to eliminate. Sorry.

Alistair Roberts  
The team starts to evolve on the basis that it starts with the leader. It's about living the behaviours of a growth mindset and acting in the same way externally and being very consistent with that and then emphasizing certain actions within the team through rewards or encouragement, "That's fantastic and we love seeing that within the team".  Then when some of the things that are probably more fixed mindset come out it's about playing those down or having a private word with those people and starting to encourage them in the direction that you want that culture to move through emphasis and encouragement. In the same way that people want to be around other people with a growth mindset, over time, your team will, as you say, self-select or some people might be managed away from that team. Then over time, it starts to live as a growth mindset entity and becomes self-reinforcing for the people that you've put in place.

Steve Anderson  
Yeah. Yeah, that's great. That's been my experience, yeah.

Final Tips To Help You Live In A Growth Mindset

Alistair Roberts  
Amazing and I suppose we've covered a lot of ground there and I think it's been a fascinating discussion. I guess as a final summary, are there any tips that you would give people to start to emphasize a growth mindset in themselves? Are there any actions that people can take today and moving forward to live more in that growth mindset and achieve greater performance in their lives? What would be some tips you'd leave people with?

Steve Anderson  
Yes. That's kind of the question that you asked me at the start that I haven't wholly answered yet. How can people develop a growth mindset? The process that I like to use, first of all, is just a reality check, it's just normalizing being human. You know, just really understanding what's going on. I've got implicit biases and explicit biases and they don't match. Even though my implicit biases are there, I only get to witness them sometimes. If I know that that's normal, I don't have to beat myself up about it. When they don't match, I can just notice it. Just like you said, I can decide, "Do I want to maintain that behaviour and keep this bias?". Now, I'm not gonna do all this psychological work and go dig it out, because I'll have to dig it out, pull it into the conscious mind, and that's where I get to deal with it. You're not going to change something in your subconscious from your subconscious. You got to get it out of the subconscious into the conscious first. And that's where you can deal with it.

Alistair Roberts  
That's the reality check.

Steve Anderson  
Yeah, yeah. So, what I can do though is I can just, it's called psychological tension. The structural tension is what pulls me forward, the psychological tension keeps me trapped. I can just cut the psychological tension, I can just cut my ties with it. I didn't have to dig up the implicit bias, I just cut my ties with it. And that's a choice I can make. I can make the choice of who I want to be, and I can embed some beliefs and values that I call on, instead of the ones that I call on subconsciously when I don't feel safe. 

Alistair Roberts  
So it's being more conscious of the values that you want to live rather than allowing yourselves to default to the values that might be deeply embedded. Is that part of the process?

Steve Anderson  
Yeah, I saw something interesting. I didn't know this was a fact, but Prince Harry, for example, there was something about him dressing up as a Nazi or something stupid when he was younger. He didn't think it was offensive. People think it's offensive he's in a Nazi uniform, you know, you're a Royal and you're dressed as a Nazi. This man is dressed as a racist. So what's he doing now being married to a black woman [Meghan Markle]? Look at him now, taking a stand with the Royal Family. Here's a man who wasn't even really paying attention, wasn't really aware of his bias or that his costume was something that was even offensive. Now, he's very aware, hypersensitive, and has consciously created himself to be a man who is more sensitive and more empathetic with people of colour and just people in general. I don't know the man but I really respect what he's done. You know, with the Invictus Games for soldiers who've been injured, from his time in the military. I can only imagine some of the internal battles and the work that he's had to do on himself. To go from being this kid who will go dressed as a Nazi because he thinks it's funny to really standing for something and even standing against his family in public and being ostracized in the way that he is by some people.

Steve Anderson  
So that's the sort of stuff you can do. You can create yourself. It's not really deciding, as much as it's just kind of uncovering and discovering. It's about asking yourself, "What's your real value?". What do you really value? Do you value human lives? Do you value your own upbringing, your own safety? How does your perception of safety impact your thoughts and actions? As a black man, if I think white men, in particular, white police officers are a threat to my safety, I'm going to act, behave, and think in a certain way. If I think that law enforcement is there to uphold the law and protect law-abiding citizens, I'm going to act in a different way. If I think the police officer is actually there to protect me, as a law-abiding citizen, I'm going to be a totally different way. So, how do I move through that spectrum of being?

Alistair Roberts  
So a lot of it is about deciding who you want to be, what you want to be remembered for and what your purpose is, and then acting in a consistent way that moves you towards becoming that person. The growth mindset, in a sense, is a tool to help you recognize certain behaviours and values that you're exhibiting at certain times and allowing yourself to be okay with the growth journey.  To actually be okay with the fact that you're a work in progress. That it takes work to change yourself and to live within that growth mindset and to encourage it in others and to attract others with the same beliefs.

Steve Anderson  
Yeah. And I guess the correct word is 'expand', for me to expand into it. It's not going back to deal with that thing. I mean, me recognizing and me knowing it's there is one thing, but me assigning a value to myself for past actions isn't always helpful. I also can't control other people. How other people want to be, is how they want to be, but I can live my life fully, and I don't have to live in fear. In a dangerous situation, yeah, I'm afraid, but it doesn't mean that I have to live a certain way. I don't have to be a slave to my bias. I can have a value, I can create a belief, but it has to be embedded and it has to be real. It can't just be a thought or it's not going to stand up to challenge. I've got to do some deep soul searching and find the answer to the question, "Do I have a value that will override this bias?".

It's All About Possibility

Alistair Roberts  
Yeah, it's good seeing yourself as a work in progress. I think this is all part of that. One of the things I read about this topic was a quote saying that the difference between a fixed versus growth mindset is the difference between saying, "I can't do it" and "I can't do it, yet", or, "I'm not that person", and, "I'm not that person, yet". It's allowing yourself to have the space to become something, but you're not there yet, and I love that part.

Steve Anderson  
Possibility, man. I don't know. Let's find out, let's play.

Alistair Roberts  
Thank you very much, Steve. It's been amazing. I really appreciate your insights today and everything we've shared together, so it's been magic.

Steve Anderson  
Thanks, Al, man and great topic, thank you. I really enjoyed this man. Awesome. Looking for more this was awesome.

Alistair Roberts  
Love it. Thanks. Appreciate it.

Steve Anderson  
Be well, man.

Topics: Personal development

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