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HERd Management: How to embrace a growth mindset

Raechel Kilgore Sattazahn for Progressive Dairy Published on 30 March 2022

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our day-to-day lives. Many women in agriculture juggle numerous responsibilities from farm work or an off-farm job to children, extracurricular activities, household responsibilities and more.

With everything going on, we often go into survival mode, make excuses for what we do (or don’t do) and limit our hopes and dreams for the future.

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On my worst days, I’ve been known to tell myself, “I’m no good at that” or “I’ll never be able to do XYZ.” While I’d like to think I’m the only one with this negative self-talk, I’m sure it’s something that most of us can relate to. On the surface, it might not seem like a big deal if this is someone’s response to a challenge. But not only are these statements not helpful in the moment, they can be detrimental to our overall well-being.

A fixed mindset means you believe your basic qualities, like intelligence and talent, are unchangeable. Since attitudes and mindsets have significant impacts on our motivation, these thoughts are roadblocks to furthering our progress and achieving our goals. Another red flag of a fixed mindset is that when people give you feedback, it feels like criticism. Individuals with fixed mindsets are focused on the outcome or the result. Oftentimes, if they do not win or someone suggests changes, it can make the person feel like a failure and that their efforts were fruitless.

Instead of a fixed mindset, we should strive to have a growth mindset. A growth mindset means you believe intelligence and talent can be developed with dedication and hard work. Unlike a fixed mindset, a growth mindset isn’t only driven by the result. Individuals with a growth mindset recognize they can develop new talents and learn new skills, and they embrace the process of doing so. We all have challenging days where it is easy to let a fixed mindset overtake our thoughts. However, the next time you are tempted to make limiting, negative statements, reconsider how to frame it in a growth perspective.

  • Instead of saying, “I’m not good at ___________,” recognize that the topic area may be challenging for you, but you can continue to improve.
  • Before becoming defensive to someone who offers you advice, tell yourself that feedback helps you learn and grow.
  • If you feel you are “too ____________” to accomplish a task, find tools and resources to improve in that area.
  • Before you claim that you are the best at a certain area, recognize there is always room for improvement.

A colleague of mine often says, “If you aren’t growing, you are falling behind.” While he normally makes this comment about the importance of farm businesses continuing to grow, whether in efficiency or size, I believe this also relates to us as individuals. As human beings, we grow and develop throughout our lifetimes.

If we aren’t encouraging growth, we are limiting ourselves and falling behind what our true potential is. In the dairy industry, we talk about this concept often with calves and the importance of nutrition and the environment in helping calves reach their future full potential. Let’s take time to consider this for ourselves and how adopting a growth mindset and positive attitude can position us for our own future success.

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In addition to the impact we can have on ourselves in reframing thoughts and promoting a growth mindset, we should encourage others to do so as well. Children often struggle with fixed thoughts, including a fear of making mistakes. Providing an environment where others feel safe in trying new things and developing their skills should be a priority for all of us in our families and farm businesses.

While none of us are perfect, and likely a negative thought might slip in every now and then, catch yourself before it is your normal reaction. Recognizing fixed thoughts is the first step to reframing your response. Mindset is everything, and the possibilities are endless when we realize that we are meant to grow and develop over our lifetime.

As Kermit the Frog said, “Just because you haven’t found your talent, yet doesn’t mean you don’t have one.”  end mark

Raechel Kilgore Sattazahn

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