Here’s a universal law that applies to all of us, regardless of our age or vocation… We must continue to grow and develop if we want to thrive.
Think about it. The same principle that applies to plants and other organic lifeforms applies to our work: If we’re not growing, we’re dying. Continual commitment to growth is the only thing that can keep us from backtracking.
However, there’s a stealthy stumbling block that can oftentimes prevent a health growth mentality. It’s a mindset that keeps us from adapting and developing in a way that helps us thrive. Many times we don’t even know this mindset has crept up on us. But identifying it is critical for our short-term growth and long-term well being.
The Sneaky Sentence That Keeps You From Growing and Thriving
How can we identify this limiting mindset? From my own personal experience, it often reveals itself in a single sentence…
Because it’s always been this way.
I get stuck in a rut at work because of it. I wrestle with the same personal struggles because of it. I never get to enjoy the benefit of restored relationships and friendships because of it.
While the idea that “it’s always been this way” helps bring structure and process to our lives, it can often become a slippery slope that prevents us from growing and thriving. As Seth Godin notes so perceptively in this blog post, it’s also the ultimate cop-out.
How to Overcome the “It’s Always Been This Way” Mindset
So how do we go about overcoming this mindset? Here are a few ways I’m working to crush the “because it’s always been this way” mindset in my own life:
- Admit that change is inevitable. Change is hard for all of us, some more than others. Personally, I hate change. However, I constantly have to remind myself that change is a part of life. Once I do that, I free myself to move forward and embrace the idea that change isn’t inherently a bad thing.
- Learn how to hold things with a loose fist. Whether it’s the work you do, the groups you lead, or the kids you raise, you must realize that there are certain things you can’t control. Often, whenever we’re tempted to say, “because it’s always been this way” it’s because something outside of our control is pushing back against us. Learning how to hold things with a loose fist, recognizing what I can and can’t control is key.
- Adopt a growth mentality. The growth mindset is a concept championed by psychologist and Stanford professor Carol Dweck, Ph.D., in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Essentially it says that believing we can develop and grow helps us create a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Since the book’s release, there has been a lot of valuable conversations around the idea of creating a growth mindset. You can find a few here.
The next time you catch yourself saying or thinking, “It’s always been this way” recognize it for what it is: a limiting belief that will only keep you from growing, adapting, and thriving.