Meeting professionals set big goals for themselves each year. Higher registration numbers. Increased attendee satisfaction. Flawless on-site execution. While it’s important to work toward reaching those objectives, the way we measure our outcomes can create big challenges.
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“We think of our goals as opportunities to prove ourselves,” Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson told attendees on the opening day of the 2014 PCMA Education Conference in Toronto. “Because we’re so focused on proving ourselves, we’re constantly comparing our performances to other people.”
Dr. Grant Halvorson refers to this approach as the “be good” mindset. It’s a fairly simple mindset that equates success and failure with our innate abilities. The job went well? It’s because you’re a natural. It felt like a disaster? You just weren’t cut out for it.
“The alternative is the ‘get better’ mindset,” Grant Halvorson told attendees. “These are no longer opportunities to prove yourself. Instead, they’re opportunities to improve.”
Dr. Grant Halvorson is no stranger to helping professionals identify ways to get better. As Associate Director of the Motivation Science Center at the Columbia Business School, her research focuses on uncovering the key factors that contribute toward superior performance.
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Speaking The Language Of Success
So how do you shift your focus from “being good” to “getting better”? Part of adopting the new mindset relies on adjusting your own vocabulary. Whether you’re thinking about your own goals or discussing objectives with your team, Grant Halvorson recommends using key triggering words: improve, progress, develop, become and grow. These terms will shift your focus from criticizing or praising personal performance to thinking about the processes that pave the way toward that performance.
Halvorson recommends conducting a personal exercise of writing down your goals to embrace these triggering words. Think of what you’re hoping to accomplish on a personal and professional level, and focus on shifting the way you evaluate yourself. Rather than what you do, focus how you do it. Consider your effort, strategy and attitude.
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