Writing this series has been an exercise in “build it as you fly it.” When I woke up today, I didn’t know what this week’s theme would be. I could have recalled the game of golf I played with strangers on Monday…maybe for a later week. I can reflect on the awesome progress my coaching clients are making on building their networks. Nah, that’s their story to share.

Then I thought about a comment I made in a meeting yesterday. In reviewing survey data, one of the open-ended data points was “we’ve done all we can.” My immediate thought was, “fixed mindset strikes again.” My colleagues nodded in agreement as fixed and growth mindset are concepts we’ve focused on a lot lately.

Here are the terms defined:

Fixed-mindsetwe believe our attributes and abilities are inherently fixed and unchanging

Growth-mindsetwe believe our talents and abilities can be improved and developed

This article summarizes top research by Dr. Carol Dweck, the leading authority on the subject of fixed vs. growth-mindset. She also has a TEDx talk that’s been watched over 7 million times.

In certain areas of our lives we may have different mindsets than in others. For example, I might say that my dancing abilities aren’t going to change, so don’t bother getting me on the dance floor (fixed-mindset). This could also be stated as “I’m a bad dancer.” Or, I suggest that with experience and practice, I can master any language (growth-mindset). This could be stated as “I love practicing new languages.”

This week, think about how you categorize your mindset when it comes to connecting with others. Do you say things like:

I’m a terrible networker. Why bother? (fixed-mindset)


I’d like to know how to network better. I’m willing to try to figure out how to make it work for me. (growth-mindset)

There is always an opportunity to work on building our growth-mindset muscles. Let’s say you finally gathered your courage and attended a networking event, and in your mind it did not go well. You didn’t make any connections, the experience felt awkward, and you went home without any business cards. The fixed-mindset view would be “It’s no use, I’m a failure at networking.” The growth-mindset view would be, “Well, I have to start somewhere. I’m glad I learned from the experience and I’ll keep moving forward.”

Catch yourself and others when they make growth-mindset comments and help them turn them around.

From: I’m a failure. To: I tried my best and learned from this experience.

From: I’m not smart enough. To: I’m going to keep practicing and learning.

You can also think about areas of your life when you never give up, no matter what. How can you channel this energy when it comes to connecting with others?

Those with growth-mindset are quick to brush themselves off and keep moving. That’s my challenge for you as you go through this week (and the remainder of this 52 week experience). Keep connecting. Keep saying “hi” to strangers. As long as you try and put yourself out there, the sky’s the limit on your connecting capabilities!

As the wisest animated fish tells us: “Just keep swimming.”

If you can’t figure out how to build your growth-mindset muscle when it comes to networking and connecting with others, send me an email at natalie@smalltownleadership.com – I’d love to be your growth-mindset personal trainer.

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Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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