Mihaly and Carol’s Love Child.
On occasion, I have a politically incorrect sense of humor. And, I guess I have a fascination with illegitimate love children. When we were concepting the identity for one of our San Francisco boutique hotels, I suggested the personality of the hotel should be Harrison Ford and Gwyneth Paltrow’s love child. It was my shorthand way of juxtaposing two things that were opposites.
Which brings me to two of my favorite academics in the modern-day world of psychology: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the conceiver of “Flow,” and Carol Dweck, who popularized the idea of “Mindset.” Mike, as Mihaly likes to be called (if only he had a one-syllable last name!), invited me to his Montana summer home a few years ago for three days of walking in the woods with his wife. Ironically, our conversation on “Flow” often occurred while we walked along a bustling creek. He taught me that to get into a timeless state of flow, you have to be open to doing the “Challenge-Skill Stairstep.” As you see in the image below, you need to go vertical before you can go horizontal. In other words, you have to learn and maybe look awkward before you can start mastering the skills necessary to access the flow channel.
It gets interesting when you combine Carol’s theories. She believes all of us tend to bring either a fixed or growth mindset to the various parts of our lives. With a fixed mindset, we focus on proving ourselves (success defined by winning). With a growth mindset, we focus on improving ourselves (success defined by learning). A growth mindset allows us to play in a bigger sandbox because we’re less focused on comparing ourselves to others and more focused on our own progress.
In sum, a growth mindset creates a wider flow channel, giving us more latitude to try new things. A growth mindset also allows us to occasionally open ourselves to stretch into the Anxiety Zone whenever we feel that we’re almost treading into the Boredom zone.
Here are 5 things you could do to adopt more of a growth mindset, thus allowing more flow into your life.
- Laugh at yourself. Enjoy the challenge, and embrace your imperfections.
- Be open to learning new approaches to getting better at your intended skill. Think of YouTube as your “learning concierge.”
- Stop being so self-critical about how stupid you look. When in doubt, learn in private or learn with friends to make the process more fun.
- Emphasize growth over speed of learning. Celebrate your wins.
- Introduce yourself to the word “yet,” as in “I haven’t accomplished that yet.”