Your mindset in and out of the classroom affects more people than you think. Monique Valcour argues people’s mindsets at work not only impact their coworkers but also impact people’s partners, their family members, their networks and even the larger community. She explains people take work related stress home and it negatively impacts the well being of family members, and it can even affect children’s school performance. Valcour illustrates this point by giving us the following example: Individuals with a distrustful mindset who are very competitive at work and try to get ahead by taking credit, withholding or distorting information, assigning blame, or shifting allegiances undermine the organization’s effectiveness by driving up stress and burnout in others.
I totally agree with Valcour. I’ve worked with educators who’ve had negative mindsets and their negativity did affect me negatively at work and at home. I’m sure you can think of instances when you’ve been affected negatively by a colleagues negative mindset. On the other hand, I’ve worked with educators who’ve had positive mindsets such as the mindsets of openness, trust and generosity. These mindsets affected me positively at work and affected my family positively at home. I’m sure you can think of times when you’ve been affected positively by colleagues’ positive mindsets. I can also think of times when I might of had a less than positive mindset and affected others negatively. I regret those instances but what can I say except I’m not perfect.
I just thought of an example when I changed my mindset about something felt much better about my situation at work and went home happy and much less stressed. Bruce (not his real name) and I taught the same subject for years. When we first started working together, I had hoped we could work together and create materials to use in our classes. I’d worked with a colleague before in just this way and absolutely loved co-creating or creating and sharing lessons, handouts, etc. Unfortunately, Bruce and I didn’t have this type of working relationship. Bruce would simply take the lessons, handouts etc. I’d created and use them but not give me any in return. I thought that was so unfair and developed the mindset that Bruce was exploiting me. I became very stressed by this. I talked about “the Bruce situation” all the time. My husband (bless him) finally told me he didn’t want to hear any more about Bruce- so you get the picture. One day, for some reason, I decided I would just share everything with Bruce that I created and not expect anything in return. I felt so great after I’d made that decision. I don’t know why I felt that way but the stress and resentment was gone. It was so easy once I changed my mindset about “the Bruce situation” from resentment to generosity. I still don’t quite understand it, but being generous brought me well being.
It is astonishing how important the positive mindsets of our coworkers are to our well being. Valcour, citing Adam Grant , shares data from a 20-year longitudinal study of healthy people that reported people with social support from co-workers were two and a half times less likely to die prematurely than individuals who didn’t have positive co-worker support. I’d come to realize over the years that positive support from my colleagues was psychologically beneficial , but I had no idea positive support from colleagues was that important for my physical well being.
Obviously a positive mindset is better for us and everyone around us. My question is how do you recognize your negative mindsets and how do you go about changing them? Any suggestions?