Are your ingrained mental habits holding you back from growing your firm? Richard Hattersley looks into ways to overcome such blocks.
According to author Carol Dweck, a growth mindset emerges from people who embrace learning and do not fear failure. But, she adds: “Those with a fixed mindset can develop a growth mindset.” Rrather than yielding to the self-doubt that squirrels around the mind, practitioners can learn from Dweck’s positive self-talk to inspire their own practice growth.
Halfway House Primary school in Kent embraced the growth technique and produced a chart that compares fixed mindset phrases and growth mindset phrases. For example: Switching the “I give up” thought with “I’ll use a different strategy” or replacing “I’m not good at this” with “What am I missing?”
But consultant Carol McLachlan (aka Coach Carol) thinks some accountants are prone to a fixed mindset: “Accountants have a tendency to label themselves and put themselves in a pigeonhole.”
McLachlan speaks from experience. During her 20 years in practice, she operated with a fixed mindset. “It wasn’t until I explored personal development and did my coach training that I started to gain that self awareness and take myself out of that stereotyping,” she said.
McLachlan’s expertise in growth mindset has driven her to produce the LeftBrain+ program that teaches accountants to use whole brain thinking.
Some accountants limit their development with a left-brain fixed mindset that stunts their growth potential, she argues. These accountants are very technical, analytical and good at coming up with technical solutions. McLachlan teaches accountants need to broaden their mindsets in order to grow their practices. “It’s having that belief that not only can they do these things, but they can make their left brain better by embracing whole brain thinking,” she says.
The accounting profession is entering uncertain times; relentless change has muddied what accountants think the future will bring. Nothing is certain. Now, more than ever, it is important to start thinking differently. “A fixed mindset may be completely redundant because you got to deal with these ambiguities and complexities that don’t respond to black and white thinking, McLachlan said.
It is easy to slip back into your old fixed brain thinking. Here are some hints to sustain a growth mindset:
Raise awareness: So, how do you switch from a fixed, left brain mindset? First thing is be aware of your thoughts. Catch yourself when you doubt your ability to change. “It’s always going to be the same. I am never going to have employees who think about the business the way that I do,” McLachlan says is typical accountant lament. When this happens, she highlights their fixed mind set, labels it and nudges them to consider a more positive rephrase.
NLP: Neuro linguistic programming (NLP) can steer accountants on a course of positive affirmations rather than left to ponder the negative. “The brain can’t process negative,” Mclachan says, “so that’s why you would never set your goals in negative terms. For example: I must STOP procrastinating. The brain will only process the procrastinating and do more of it.” What NLP teaches is that goals must always be communicated with positive talk and positive affirmations in order to eliminate doubt.
Remove limiting mindset: Fixed mindsets will possess limiting beliefs. An accountant will dismiss their creative ability, because they have labelled themselves as a technical person. Shrug off this story and you will open your mind to growth. “Once you start telling yourself a story like that because your brain doesn’t like dissonance, it’s always looking for evidence to back that up so it becomes a vicious story,” McLachlan said. Fixed mindset accountants scrutinise feedback from clients or from appraisals, and linger on the negative comments.
Adopt a growth mindset and you should see your practice grow. Change how you talk to yourself and see how it benefits your practice.
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's Practice Editor. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.