In today’s webinar, episode 27, we’re speaking about how to enhance your company, team, personal engine as we start reintegrating.

We examine self-talk, exploring the impact of negative irrational statements versus healthy rational statements and how these have a direct impact on our performance in the workplace.

We then take a closer look at just what a growth mindset is and that we can cultivate skills and qualities; we can stretch ourselves.

And that it’s companies that lean and accelerate into the curve that will be motivated by the setbacks offered by Covid-19.

Join our conversations around reintegrating post lockdown.




Theran Knighton-Fitt: Hello, Welcome to the next episode, episode 27, about mental health and wellbeing in COVID-19. This is actually the very first episode of our reimagined webinar 3.0 – the reignition edition. What is the purpose going forward of this webinar series? Essentially, the whole point for this next season, these next two weeks of webinars, is to provide tools and resources not just to individuals, but to organisations, to companies, and of course, their leaders and their employees, their staff, so that we can not just have individuals who are flourishing, but help companies to flourish into the future. How can a company psychologically flourish? Well, if it’s people psychologically flourish, that’s how.

Okay, so before we dive into a little bit more, let’s just do a brief recap on the previous episode. because that’ll give us an understanding of why we have shifted our trajectory a little bit and what it is we’re trying to do. In the previous episode, we spoke about a personal sense or a sense of personal adequacy that everybody needs to feel to have a sense of wellbeing. And when we experience trauma or when we experience change, or when the world gets turned upside down like it has that, that need for a global sense of adequacy comes under attack a little bit, we can lose our footing and it can impact us. So we had some tips on how we can help with some self-affirmation techniques just to make sure we can maintain that sense of adequacy. And we talked about the force field analysis, a concept from a psychologist Lewin that talks about the fact that they are competing, clashing needs that different people bring to a situation especially one like this where there are organizational needs, there are human needs that employees are facing, and they’re actually in opposition of each other right now.

Especially as we head into the season of trying to reintegrate back into the workplace back into no longer just remote working. Lockdown’s been lifted trying to figure out what that looks like going forward. There are different needs that are competing. But if we can align the vectors now here’s our key takeaways. If we can align all those needs, and have us all pulling in the same direction, then that clash or that energy, that moment of, whatever, of power that is causing a bit of disruption or mess that can actually be harnessed. And we can reignite in the same direction. Then we talked as well, of course, about how Mygrow is offering this readmission support package to help organisations to help companies to be able to pivot into this new future that we are facing. A little bit more about that later.

So the purpose and the direction of this webinar series going forward is essentially to focus on reignition during the season of reintegration, and that is for all stakeholders for organisations. For leaders and for employees, so that the focus of these webinars is going to be a little bit more tailored towards that. Still applicable to you, if you are at home by yourself or not working, but tailored towards the corporate need that we are experiencing right now in the in the workplace. Of course, it is brought to you by Mygrow the emotional intelligence platform. Don’t forget to sign up for your free access. The free 21-day COVID trial has been extended, it is now two weeks longer. So that has been extended. And if you’re signing up now for the first time, it’ll be a two week trial. So make sure you get access to that, and through that you can get access to the resources that we’ve made available throughout this episode.

Okay, so what it is what is it that we’re dealing with today? We’re talking about how to enhance your engine on the back of yesterday’s or the previous webinar’s idea that that the engine is, you know, where that combustion is where we can reignite and get the vectors aligned in the same way. Well, your company, your team and you yourself have an engine. So how do we enhance it? Well, two ways we can do that is through self-talk, which I’m going to spend a bit of time on just now. And then we’re going to look at this idea of a growth mindset, again. I’m going to bring in my colleague, Alex Kilgour. She’s going to speak to us a little bit more, we’ve dealt with a growth mindset already a little bit in previous episode, but she’s gonna unpack it and dig into it a little bit more for us.

Okay, so in this moment, we are facing challenges. We spoke about this in the previous episode, there’s all these different things that you as an individual and as a team member, or an employee, maybe even as a leader, or an organisation. These are the things that you’re facing: negativity, in new routines, old routines, the clash of all of that; anxiety around all sorts of things – motivation – I won’t go through all of them. There’s a whole lot of things that we are going to be dealing with psychologically. And we’re going to be experiencing these things hand-in-hand with what we need to do in this moment, as we try to find a ‘new normal’ as we try to be productive,as we try to be efficient, as we try to produce, as we try to do our jobs, the same job as before, but maybe in a new way, into a new season that is not hundred percent certain what that even looks like yet. Now, as we are experiencing these challenges in what we are doing. self-talk is an incredibly powerful ingredient to help us cope well. I want to run through two experiments with you just looking at the power of self-talk before we get Alex on to chat about a growth mindset. And the two will, these experiments and the growth mindset, will really dovetail and you’ll see the connection as we go.

Okay, this is back in the late 70s. It was essentially called the star tracing study. And what they did was they got a group of people and they literally just gave them this job of tracing between the lines of the stars, you can see there’s an inside and outside line. They had to draw a line with a pen or a pencil or something without touching ages. To make it harder, they couldn’t look at the page then look at the reflection in a mirror there to do it in mirror image. So you can imagine pretty tricky. Give them a chance to try it, make sure they knew what they were doing. Then they said, okay, break you into three groups. And each group had a different set of sentences or phrases or ideas that they had to focus on and repeat to themselves. There was a control group. And we’re not going to spend much time but those are just, you know, random, neutral kind of phrases that save themselves.

Then there was a group they had specifically negatively framed irrational statements that they had to think through and say to themselves, over and over again, for five minutes before they tried to do this exercise.

Then they had a group that was given things that were rational, and weren’t particularly necessarily positive, but they were rational statements that were healthy. There were a healthy set of things to think about. So let’s dive in and look at, first of all, that group that had these negative irrational statements, to example that five sentences that they had to say over and over again to themselves. Two examples of this – the one was: “If I don’t do this perfectly well, next time, it will prove that I’m stupid”. If I don’t do this perfectly well, next time, it will prove that I’m stupid. Saying that over and over again to themselves. Another one was: “Since most people are good at this, I should be too or else I’m an idiot”. They had to say this over and over to themselves to literally stew in it, to think it through and to engage in that self talk. Then, they got a chance to do this exercise looking in the mirror. That was the one group.

The other group was given positive statements to say to themselves. Five statements that they had to think through again, and again. These are two examples: “Mistakes, don’t mean I’m stupid. They give me a lot of information, which hopefully, I can use to become better at this”. Say that over and over again to themselves. Another one: “Although lots of people may be pretty good at this. And I’d like to be good too. There’s no reason why I must do well. Can you see the difference between these negatively framed irrational statements, and these positively or healthily framed, rational statements. Now, look at the results. Look at the stats here. The group that had those positive phrases to say to themselves, finished the task quicker, on average, and made on average, three times fewer mistakes. In other words, the team that had this negative framed sentences that say over and over to themselves, they made three times more mistakes. They touched the borders more than three times more than the other people. And it took them longer. The things we say to ourselves; the stories we say, the self-talk we engage in has an impact on our performance.

Fascinating. Okay, next study was a study called the or I’m calling it the I Can study. I’m not sure exactly what the name of the study was, but it was an experiment looking at the impact of self-talk on performance again, similar to the other one. Researchers got a group of participants put them in a swimming pool gave them a water polo ball and said, throw this ball as far as you can and then measured – they got a baseline measurement of how far people could throw this ball. Then they split the team, the group, into two groups, and the first group had to repeat the words to themselves: “I can, I can, I can” just before and as they threw that ball, simply those two words “I can”.

Researchers then measured how far this group that said these words themselves, could throw the ball in their second attempt. The other group just had another attempt, and they measured it again. Now, here’s the fascinating difference. The team, the group that said I can to themselves, look here at the results, they had an increase in distance, but pretty much almost a meter – pretty much I’d say 90 centimetres – if you look at this graph 80 to 90 centimetres further than their first throw by saying to themselves “I can” they increase their performance drastically compared to the other group who hardly increased their performance at all. Without that positive self-talk.

Now, this, this phrase “I can” is actually something I’ve taken into my own parenting. When I was teaching my other son how to ride a bike, every time he fell off, he would say to himself, almost like a default, he’d say: I can’t do this, I’ll never learn how to ride my bike”. You can just imagine the drama. So I, I remembered the study, and I said to him, “buddy, we’re not going to say that to ourselves, we’re going to say “I can”, and I literally got him to say it, I got him to shout it before he tried again. And he was young enough that he could take my lead on it and he could turn it into a game. And, believe me when I say that the difference in his attitude, and in the number of times he fell, was phenomenal. The difference was so contrasted that I was looking on almost, like wide-eyed in wonder, that these two simple words could have such an impact on how he was learning how to ride. Instead of going down into this negative spiral of self disbelief: “I can’t do this, I’ll never be able to do this”, he actually began to learn how to ride and ultimately, learned how to ride without falling off. His whole attitude shifted, and I saw his performance shift as well.

So now, the difference between an “I can’t” and an “I can” AI can be actually summarised in this idea of a growth mindset which I’ve spent a little bit of time on in the previous episode with Alice Toich, the artist, when we talked about play and how play can open up the neural pathways of flexibility for growth.

Alex is an organizational psychologist. I work with her atMygrow. She’s gonna jump on now and just walk us through a little bit more in a little bit more detail in-depth than I did the first time on what a growth mindset is. So let’s get on Alex. Can you hear me? Are you there? I can’t hear you Alex. Put your… There we go.

Alex Kilgour: Yes. Yes, I’m here Theran, thank you.

Theran Knighton-Fitt: That old little mute button thing was…

Alex Kilgour: gets a lot of people every time.

Theran Knighton-Fitt: Every time. Anyway, welcome to the episode today. We are dealing with self-talk and the growth mindset. As I mentioned before, we have looked at the growth mindset and a little bit of detail but, but you’re here to walk us through in some more detail what growth mindset is all about? So, I guess over to you. What can you tell us walk us through what a growth mindset is? And how can we understand it?

Alex Kilgour: Growth mindset is really one of the most fascinating concepts that I’ve ever come across. And it’s really led to me being quite passionate about what it’s all about and what it can mean for our lives. Certainly on the individual business team. I think everyone could do with a little bit of growth mindset in their lives, and a little bit more certainly. So, growth mindset is based on the belief that the basic qualities that we have, be it personality, intelligence, sporting ability, cooking a better team, whatever. that a lot of these abilities and skills and qualities are the things that we can cultivate through our efforts, through various strategies that we employ to get better at them, and with help and assistance from others. So, basically, we are not all the same, we all differ, we all have different things that we’re good, we know we’re good and something about better other things. But we can all change and grow via application and experience in these different things. Now, this type of mindset leads us to have various thoughts that then impact our behaviours and our actions. So, it’s kind of like the saying that it doesn’t go like: “If at first, you don’t succeed, give up and fail, you know, you probably don’t have the ability go home”.

Theran Knighton-Fitt: That’s not a growth mindset is what you’re saying.

Alex Kilgour: That is not a growth mindset. What is that mindset is all about “if you don’t succeed, try and try again”. So something like a fixed mindset, which is the opposite of a growth mindset says: we only have a certain amount of intelligence, ability, skill, and that’s the end of the story. That’s it. So, if you aren’t good at mathematics, well, you know, there’s other fields for you to go into, you don’t have to worry about that you just that’s not your field of expertise. That’s not your, that’s not your thing.

Theran Knighton-Fitt: And that’s the one that that would be characterised by if you don’t succeed, rather give up someone else is better.

Alex Kilgour: Exactly. If you don’t succeed, you probably don’t have the ability to succeed. So you know, find something else. Instead of a growth mindset, which says, “I’m not necessarily good at this yet, or good at this right now, but I’m really dedicated to wanting to be better at this”. And it’s something that really inspires a passion for learning to get better at things, and more importantly, Theran, it’s a belief that anything like this can be developed. Like the example of your child learning to ride a bike. You know, when isn’t born knowing how to ride a bike inherently, or not, you know, so it’s about believing that one can learn these types of things and get better as as the practice happens.

And, I want to actually talk a little bit about children because the author of the book mindset and all her work, Carol Dweck, she does some really amazing work with children. And she’s got a TED talk and one of the famous experiments that she’s done is she took some children and gave them a harder than usual maths test. She was quite shocked, some children, you know, figuring out that it’s quite difficult, were kind of like, this sucks, I hate this, this is really hard. I don’t want to do this. And they even were likely to cheat when they did future rounds of the same exercise, in an attempt to be good, to be better, to really thrive while doing the activity.

Theran Knighton-Fitt: Another way to accomplish it – cheating.

Alex Kilgour: Exactly, exactly. So the belief that they couldn’t do it, that they had to be another way to do it perfectly and get all the answers, right, and that must be cheating. But then there was a second group. And this group of children outwardly said things like: “this is, this is an amazing opportunity. I love this challenge. I can’t wait to learn more”. And this is really the growth mindset and the fixed mindset, in perfect action, believing that one can do something, and really get better at something, and enjoy the challenge and the opportunity to get better at something, as opposed to: ” well, I’m obviously not smart enough to do this.

Theran Knighton-Fitt: Oh, well. It reminds me; sorry, finish your thoughts.

Alex Kilgour: She’s done some amazing, amazing work with children. But I mean, if you just think about babies learning to crawl. Babies learning to crawl aren’t thinking: “I’m actually not going to call because I’m probably gonna look a little bit silly, I might fall, I might, you know, hurt my tummy, I might look around like a little bit of a fool, I’m just gonna stop”. They don’t. They carry on, there’s really a desire to get better to walk, to crawl to sit to stand, to all of this. But as soon as kids reach that, that self talk phase as you were talking about, and certainly, you know, hearing from the environment around them. As soon as that stage starts to set in, there’s much more of a self-critical stance that is taken among children.

Theran Knighton-Fitt: I remember now as a teenager, a good friend of mine – he wanted to be a musician, and he was a pretty bad musician. His voice was terrible. And I remember thinking, on his behalf, like with a fixed mindset, I was like: “buddy, just give it up. Give it up now”. But he, actually, went on to produce a number of albums. He had a world tour. It was actually fascinating. It was a very humbling moment for me to realize I had been placing like a judgment on someone else. From a fixed mindset. And, I can imagine, that if I was vocal about that and influential in his life, I may have inadvertently been a voice speaking to him and telling him: “stop, stop. You don’t have what it takes”. And I wonder if that’s partly what children hear, and then replicate to themselves through their own self-talk.

Alex Kilgour: Ja, I mean, just going a little bit broader here. Sport is also a great way to see growth mindset versus fixed mindset. So, society, you know, all of us, we love the idea of a natural. We love the idea that someone woke up. And then, in the same day, went on to win that championship, that tennis match that whatever, just raw natural ability.

Oh, we love it. We love raw natural ability. But the reality is, is that we don’t necessarily see the hours of training and practise, and Carol Dweck talks a lot about Michael Jordan – perhaps she has a little bit of a celebrity in sports crush on him. Don’t know. But, basically, he was dropped from his high school, by his high school basketball team. You know, joke’s on the coach now for that. But, you know, there are stories of him, after a loss of the last game of the season that was lost by his team, he spent hours practising his shots for next season. That’s a growth mindset. That says: “I’ve just lost but I can get better. I can cultivate my skills, I can learn, I can enhance”. Instead of: “I lost my team sacks. I’m quitting basketball”. Because that would have been a great tragedy for the world. Of course,

Theran Knighton-Fitt: Another little, little nugget here from me, I’m just remembering as you’re saying this, remembering another friend of mine when I was a teenager. He was ranked like number nine, if I remember correctly, in his age group in the country for tennis. And I remember him saying to me at the time, it’s like, I don’t know what’s happened with his tennis career, I assume he’s not playing anymore, but I remember him saying to me: “It’s the guys that my age who are ranked number nine that go on to be Wimbledon champions, not the guys who ranked number one and number two at my age, and actually the guys who have that natural ability at the age of 14/15. They’re the ones who don’t grow, they just relax, they rest on their laurels, as you know, as we would say. They, they just assume that their strength and ability will carry them through and they don’t improve. And by the time they get into their late teens and 20s never really dropped out of tennis. They’re no longer playing”. I don’t know if that’s factually true. I just remember this friend of mine telling me that was the case. I don’t think he’s won the Wimbledon final, so maybe it’s not true after all, but I do like the logic of it. I understand the logic of it. And it makes me wonder if we can just segue out of this a little bit. You know, part of what we’re trying to do in this webinar going forward now is to speak to more than just the individual, but to speak to the idea of the company or the organisation itself. I wonder whether this growth mindset can be applied in the same way to a company? Is is this a stretch?

Alex Kilgour: No, not at all. Yes, growth mindset is about stretching. So I just want to say that stretching. But yes, companies much like people, and the people within those companies, are very capable with a fixed mindset of believing that the company is one thing, sells one type of product, delivers one type of service, for example. And that’s the only thing that they do. They can’t, they’re unable to break out of that they’re unable to really shift, to pivot, to adapt. And, and companies are just here to kind of make money exists and that’s it. That’s more of a fixed mindset way of looking at companies and their existence and, you know, thinking how difficult organisational change is and how, you know, we may as well not even try because, you know, we know that this this initiative or this product launch or this change management strategy isn’t going to go down well, you know, let’s just can the whole thing.

Theran Knighton-Fitt: We’ve tried already. It didn’t work before. We’ll just stay in our main, we’ll just sell was one thing we sell, we won’t try to be innovative.

Alex Kilgour: Exactly. So there are loads of companies that obviously exhibit the different mindsets. But really, I think one of the common denominators is, of course, the leaders. So, I’m kind of jumping between organisations and the people within those organisations, which are, you know, leaders, play quite an important role. And leaders who are looking to improve, rather just prove themselves or prove the company, this can be one of the leading problems that that deviates away from a growth mindset

Theran Knighton-Fitt: are so to say that again, you…

Alex Kilgour: Prove rather than improve. Prove themselves, prove the worth, rather than the desire to improve.

Theran Knighton-Fitt: So obviously, if you’re just concerned with trying to prove, then you’re stuck in that fixed mindset of let’s prove that what we have is the best. We’ll strive to prove that, if we don’t manage to be the best ag, we’ll throw in the towel or we’ll give up or whatever. But if we’re desiring to improve, is that growth mindset, and improve could mean many different things in this moment. Improve could mean expand. It could mean diversify. It brings to mind. Kodak, do you remember Kodak? The film company? Like I don’t know.

Alex Kilgour: Ja, known for just a little bit more than being a film company. It’s kind of a sad story on lost potential, and certainly organisationally in this world. So really quite a sad story about not keeping up with the trends, where the world was going, certainly from a digital technology perspective, but instead being quite blinded and obsessed by its own success. So companies with more of a fixed mindset tend to focus inwards. They tend to, rather than looking at the companies that have done good things or where things might be going, fixed mindset companies tend to look inside and downwards. To say, well, we’re better off than that company. And, you know, we’re certainly doing better than that one over there. So, you know, we’re actually fine.

Theran Knighton-Fitt: And then look at their past successes, their past victories. Kodak, we’ve been the film people, we’re obviously going to be okay. We’ve been a market leader.

Alex Kilgour: Ja, exactly. So there’s no need to change what we already have. Because what we’ve been doing for so long is, you know, is fantastic. There’s the same as we saw with Chrysler, when, you know, this is obviously in the early 2000s, when the CEO refused to look at manufacturing different types of models, different types of cars, and was actually overtaken later by other brands, other competitors because of the blindness, the obsession with its own success to prove itself to prove that it can still be successful. Rather than improve, change, adapt. Pivot, which we know is super important. At the moment,

Theran Knighton-Fitt: Well, yeah, that actually we’re running short on time, like so let me just segue into that because I think I think what. I love what you said just now about a fixed mindset company looks down and in, in a way that sees value internally. Of course, part of a fixed mindset could also be looking out and seeing, oh, we’re better than them. We’re better. They’ve retrenched half their staff, we’ve only retrenched a quarter of our staff; we’ll be okay. But actually, that’s no guarantee you’ll be okay. If we if we can see anything. I mean, my dad is, he rides a motorbike. He shouldn’t be riding a motorbike anymore. He’s getting too old for a motorbike. But I remember him saying to me a number of times he said, he’s not confident enough driver,  because he should lean into the curve more than he does. But there is a fear about leaning into a curve. But actually, that’s what you need to do, you need to lean into the curve turning into the, or maybe even an example is accelerate into the curve. Instead of brake. The companies that brake into the curve and want to keep the bike upright, that’s when they come off. And, and if you’re looking out and about and around and seeing, oh, we’re better off than the others, we’re not going to take a daring move, we’re not going to be innovative and jump back in with something that’s actually scary. Those are the companies that, perhaps, are going to come off the bike at the curve.

But the ones that are willing to commit to the uncertainty to that, that feeling of lack of control, and not just rest on past success, but say no, this moment can be a chance for us to diversify, to grow, to lean into a future that that is going to be different. I mean, they’ve been a number of examples. I can’t think of many off the top of my head right now, but there have been examples of a number of companies in South Africa that have pivoted and added a new brand or perhaps even changed their brand altogether. So changed their product altogether to meet this current moment.

And, and I think the heart of what we’re trying to share here is, if we come back to my self talk ideas that we were chatting about at the beginning: What do you believe about yourself as an individual, or as an organisation? What is the story you’re telling yourself? In this moment? Is it a story that is leading you to fewer resources as a company? Or is it a story that it was a story about yourself or your company that you believe in? No, we can pivot, we can lean in, we can thrive, we can do more than survive, we can actually flourish in this season as we go forward. So, I don’t know if you have any last comments before I wrap up, just on those thoughts.

Alex Kilgour: Yes, well, look, I think that the world is in a new place, certainly. People and organisations with a growth mindset will look to be motivated by the setbacks. And you know, collecting data about what can be done, how they can pivot, instead of just surrendering to the fact that everything has changed. And I think it’s also about understanding the effort that’s going into, rather than the results. Looking at, you know, what past decisions aren’t working, and what future decisions can go towards the shift that really needs to happen in organisations and mindsets across South Africa, and, you know, across the world.

Theran Knighton-Fitt: And of course, the engine of a company is its people. I mentioned at the beginning that at Mygrow, we’ve put together this reignition package, which is going to help companies, but it’s really, it’s aimed at helping the people. It’s aimed at helping the leaders know how to handle this moment, because if we can create alignment of those vectors, you can just see from this, the slide here that’s on the screen right now, if we can align those vectors and bring the power and the potential and the impetus of all these different dynamics and of all this value, and all this potential that our human staff members and our human leaders have and carry. If we can do that, we can create that forward momentum that can get us into a future that is flourishing.

This Reignition Support Package is going to cover a lot of the different things that the individuals themselves are facing. So, you can see on the screen here some of the things that are part of that package.

If you are interested in reaching out to find out how this can help your company in this moment, how it can help you change the narrative, change the self-talk internally, in your people and even in your leadership. If you’re interested in seeing how this can ignite and develop and build a growth mindset in your organisation. Then please email us at [email protected] we can take the conversation forward.

Just a reminder again quickly that the free trial is available for anyone who wants to sign up and see what Mygrow is and how it works. The resources from this webinar series that have gone through the whole previous five weeks of episodes up to now, are all available there in the COVID-19 tab. If you found this episode helpful or any of the previous episodes, please do not hesitate to help others get access to this by liking, following, sharing on all the different social channels there are: Instagram, Facebook, even register or encourage others to register at for this webinar series.

Maybe you’re wondering what reintegration looks like, trying to figure out how you are going to juggle all the different dynamics and needs that you have as an individual.

Whatever your situation is, whatever your moment is, you’re not in this alone. We are all in this together.

And I am confident that if we can leverage things like a growth mindset, things like positive self-talk, we can start believing stories about ourselves, and about our organisations, that will see us through into the long term in ways that can really reinvent the world and help, not just us, but our suppliers and our customers to flourish as well. I’ll see you in the next episode.

Our Reintegration Support Package equips organisations to flourish on their return from lockdown.

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