When are you too old to learn?
The truth is never! The biggest barrier to learning isn’t age, its fixed mindsets and limiting beliefs.
So, how do we go about changing these mindsets and beliefs? By cultivating a growth mindset.
According to American Psychologist Carol Dweck, who has spent her life researching motivation, personality, and development, we all sit somewhere on a learning continuum based on our views about where our ability stems from. Simply put, if you believe success is based on natural ability; you have a “fixed” theory of intelligence or a fixed mindset, if you believe success comes from hard-work, learning, training and doggedness you have a “growth” or an “incremental” theory of intelligence, or what Carol terms, a growth mindset.
But cultivating a growth mindset isn’t just about putting in the effort. It relies on us to continue to work hard and focus on the vision of success despite any setbacks we experience along the way. Those with a growth mindset believe they can master almost any skill or ability if they invest the time, effort, or study into it. More importantly though, Dweck even argued that a growth mindset “allowed a person to live a less stressful and more successful life”.
How can I attest to this? Because a growth mindset enabled me to follow my dreams and transition from being an Operations Manager in my mid-forties to the Leadership Coach I am today in my mid-fifties. I had a vision, to help people see what was possible for themselves and give them the courage and ability to lead at work and home. A fixed mindset would have said no, I’m too old. Enacting a growth mindset gave me the courage and will to persevere and successfully undertake the biggest career transition of my life despite well intentioned advice from ‘naysayers’ and my own self talk.
As George Elliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been”. Or to learn it seems, because learning isn’t just about that dream career transition or your next steps up the career ladder. It’s about becoming yourself. So, who and what do you want to be when you grow up?
Take Aristotle for example, he didn’t fully devote himself to writing and philosophy until he was nearly 50. Or our CEO, Fabian Dattner, who founded Homeward Bound, a ground-breaking initiative powering a globally diverse leadership network of 10,000 STEMM women who are ensuring the sustainability of our planet, until she was in her 60s.
Taking a long, winding path to self-fulfillment doesn’t just have benefits, it’s part of our developmental progression. As Developmental Psychologist Erik Erikson theorized, there are 8 stages of psychosocial development and we only hit the seventh stage when we reach our middle adulthood, which is when we’re 40 – 65 years old. Why does this matter? Because that’s when we have the wisdom, resilience, and knowledge to make our mark on the world. It’s during this time that we experience a need to build or nurture things that will outlast us, when we can mentor and create positive changes that will benefit not just ourselves but others. A failure to embrace this and cultivate our own growth mindset can often lead to us feeling stagnant, unproductive, and disconnected.
Now to the best part, changing your mindset. How? By employing a few approaches and attitudes which are perfectly elicited by Researcher, Courtney E. Ackerman.
So, I ask you, is your current mindset contributing to your well-being and life purpose? Or are you stuck with an old story creating a ‘fixed’ mindset? How is that going for you? Maybe not as well as you had hoped. That’s ok because managing the shift from a ‘Fixed’ to ‘Growth’ mindset on our own isn’t always that simple. Sometimes we need a trusted advisor, a friend, a mentor, a coach, to help us work through our why, what, and how so we can discover the best version of ourselves!
One final tip, the day you self-actualise is the day you take your last breath, so until that day stay open, curious and be willing to learn. Because it’s never too late to find yourself.
Director – Consultant & Coach
To find out how we can help you find yourself, contact us at Dattner Group.