I have watched a vine from an outdoor patio make its way steadily through the glass sliding door into my office. I don’t remember when I first noticed it, but didn’t feel a need to do anything about it until it started to interfere with using the handle to open the door!

Persistently exploring, curious, resilient, carving out the next big thing, maybe searching for a better place to grow. I can relate: Growth. It’s been my favorite word for a long time. It’s always on my list of top values. I like to work with people who value growth too. Even better is when people discover their passion for growth during our coaching time together.


Be encouraged if…

  • You feel like you’re not getting anywhere fast in your current growth journey.
  • You experience being alone, isolated, needing more comrades, mentors, and cheerleaders.
  • The results are not there yet, despite your efforts.
  • You know you need to move in a new direction—it’s time!
  • You think something is blocking your growth but not sure what it is.
  • You actually are growing and achieving many goals, yet sense there is something you’re missing that could accelerate the process.
  • You’ve been so focused on accomplishing certain goals that you fear you’re missing out on a fuller, more balanced life.

When people ask me about the benefits of executive coaching, my first instinct is to talk about self-awareness. A good coach can help you see what you can’t see. A limited or negative perspective, unprocessed shame, grief, or trauma all lead to less effective leadership and relationships in general. It may look like grandiosity, low confidence, a defensive posture, impostor syndrome, the inability to set appropriate boundaries and people-pleasing.

All have their roots in some pattern of thinking and behaving, that once understood, can be faced, navigated, and changed for the better. The late Dr. Paul Warren, pediatric psychiatrist and author, said, “Self-awareness is curative.” Unaddressed blind spots limit a leader’s capacity to achieve their potential. It can create a mindset that is the antithesis to growth in spite of great efforts.

Carol Dweck shows it clearly in her model of the Growth Mindset. Through much research in education and corporate studies, she shows us the difference in the success of people who are open and ready to take positive steps to succeed and those who are closed off. While it’s obvious that in order to learn new things, you must be willing to take risks and be in the discomfort of “not knowing” and often risk not looking good. Unwillingness to do this prevents a person from moving forward! What they thought was their limited ability is really only their attitude! In a nutshell, here is the difference between a fixed and growth mindset.

Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

Growth Mindset

Challenges are an opportunity for me to grow.

I enjoy trying new things.

I can be vulnerable and risk not looking good.

I can learn and become competent in what’s important to me—even if it doesn’t come natural to me.

I realize my attitude and efforts determine my abilities.

Criticism and feedback is constructive, even if it stings.

I find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.

I embrace challenges with agility.

Fixed Mindset

Failure shows me the limit of my abilities—I’m just not good at certain things.

I stick to what I know.

Feedback is hurtful and to be avoided.

I must look good to others.

I feel threatened by the success of others.

I avoid anything that might be embarrassing.

When I feel frustrated, I give up easily.

I avoid challenges.

When I opened the door to unhook this vine from the doorway, it was actually totally lining the whole inside wall. It had been making its pathway for a long time, slowly and steadily. Upon examining the vine, there were many tiny feet—there’s probably a technical word among botanists. Those hundreds of grasping feet worked together minute by minute in a coordinated effort to go somewhere. Why, I’ll never know. But I felt inspired.

This supposedly brainless, living thing had a desire to go somewhere it had not been before and, over time, it found a way. What this vine shows us is a natural growth state of being—intentional action and clear direction! For the vine maybe it’s natural, but for us humans, we get into unnatural states for many reasons. Sometimes we need some help from others—mentors, friends, counselors, and coaches to point out what’s missing and what’s needed.

With the right kind of support you and I can find a way to overcome what may be limiting us. Unlike the vine, you are a complex human being with a way more complicated life, brain, and circumstances. Those with a growth mindset seek out ways to get support and are not afraid to admit when they need it.

Some quotes to inspire you…

“We should not feel embarrassed by our difficulties—only by our failure to grow anything beautiful from them.”

—Alain de Botton, Swiss-born philosopher

“I have learned throughout my life as a composer chiefly through my mistakes and false assumptions…”

—Igor Stravinsky, Themes and Episodes

“Wisdom rises upon the ruins of folly.”

—Thomas Fuller, M.D. and British physician, preacher, and intellectual, author of Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs

“Flops are part of life’s menu and I’ve never been a girl to miss out on any of the courses.”

—Rosalind Russell, American actress

And if those quotes don’t inspire you, consider this practical perspective:

We can make ourselves miserable, or we can make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”

—Carlos Casteneda, American author, The Teachings of Don Juan

Happy growing!

Elaine Morris
Executive coach and positive intelligence expert

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Elaine Morris is a master-level emotional intelligence and executive coach who brings more than 30 years of experience to upper level executives and their teams.

Elaine Morris