March 2013 Newsletter

Choose the article by clicking on the title below

Top Story: Cultivating a Growth Mindset

Happy Spring to all of you in the northern hemisphere. Wednesday marks the first day of Spring, and brings the promise of new growth and new beginnings to this part of the globe. (And for our friends and colleagues “down under” – we wish you a Happy Fall, a time for harvesting and gathering together).

Here in the Rockies, Spring means daffodils pushing up through the snow (amazingly resilient little things!). We are seeing the mountains and meadows being revived from winter brown to a stunning verdant green. Trees are bursting forth with new life, and everywhere, we see new growth. Pretty soon the bears will come out of hibernation, and they will once again climb the tree outside my window trying to reach the seed in the birdfeeder. They are hungry !!

Spring also provides us a great metaphor for human growth, which is, of course, of paramount interest to coaches all around the world, whether heading into Spring or Fall.

Just as gardeners cultivate their gardens, so too do we, as coaches, cultivate the growth of our clients (and ourselves!). Just as the farmer tills the soil, sows the seeds and creates conditions ideal for growth, so do we as coaches, sow the seeds of new ideas and possibilities, and cultivate a supportive, nurturing environment for growth.

So, with Springtime as our metaphor, we devote this issue to human growth, and specifically to the concept of the “growth mindset.”

The concept of “growth mindset” vs “fixed mindset” originates with the work of Dr. Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. In her 2006 book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” Dr. Dweck distinguishes between two extremes of mindsets people tend to have:

In a fixed mindset, “your qualities are carved in stone.” People with this mindset believe their abilities, intelligence, and talents are pre-set, pre-determined from birth. Their abilities are fixed. They have a certain amount and that’s that. They believe their success in life is based on these fixed, innate abilities. They believe people are either born with certain abilities or they are not, and what they have are finite. If a person lacks certain abilities, they will always lack those abilities.

In a growth mindset, “your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts . . . everyone can change and grow their abilities through application and experience.” For people with this growth mindset, basic intelligence is the starting point, and ultimate success is based on hard work, learning, and perseverance. These individuals believe they can continue to learn and grow throughout their lifetimes.

Individuals may not be aware of their mindset, but we can determine a person’s mindset from their behavior. Some people don’t take on new challenges because they dread failure. If they fail, they fear the world will know they have limitations.

By contrast, growth mindset individuals will take on new challenges all day long. They don’t fear failure because they know that failure also brings new learning and growth. Their mindset reflects the advice of Thomas Watson: “Would you like me to give you the formula for success? It’s quite simple really. Double your rate of failure.”

Dweck suggests there are some very important and powerful implications of mindset. For example our mindset determines how we approach challenges and opportunities.

People with a fixed mindset:
  • avoid certain challenging situations because they fear failure
  • act instead to protect themselves from failure by not trying new things
  • favor the skills and talents associated with their known fixed qualities
  • may even act to conceal what they believe to be their deficiencies
People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, don’t fear failure. They:
  • actively pursue challenges because they know they will learn and grow from them (and from any associated failure)
  • recognize their performance, growth and development will be improved by taking on new challenges, and they
  • continue working diligently despite setbacks (they persevere)
The reason this concept is so important and so powerful, particularly for the practice of social + emotional intelligence coaching, is because Dweck’s research demonstrates that a growth mindset allows a person to live a less stressful and more successful life. Mindset is directly correlated with emotional intelligence.

Impact in Organizations

The concept of fixed vs. growth mindset applies in organizations as well.

Growth mindset organizations believe talent can be cultivated and developed. People are afforded opportunities for training, coaching, experimentation and a moderate amount of risk-taking.

Fixed mindset organizations, by contrast, believe each employee has certain fixed skills and capabilities. Less emphasis is placed on growth, learning and development, and these organizations often lose employees with great learning potential. Even worse, the employees who remain may never have the opportunity to fully reach their potential and they often become disengaged.

Impact on Relationships

These mindsets also have an impact on the ability to build relationships, build bonds and build trust. A person with a fixed mindset approaches relationships from a transactional perspective or zero-sum game standpoint: if you win, I lose, and vice versa. This perspective can breed conflict and mistrust. It sets up an unhealthy quest for and preservation of power in relationships, rather than teamwork and collaboration.

Individuals with a growth mindset, on the other hand, have a broader view of the possibilities. Rather than a zero-sum perspective, they believe that by working together, everyone wins. They believe that teamwork and collaboration bring about greater value. (This is akin to the “A-rising-tide-lifts-all-boats” type of perspective.) The outcome of this worldview is greater trust in the relationship.

Impact on Kids and Families

Other research suggests that mindset predicts motivation and achievement in kids. In one study with adolescent students, mindset training actually narrowed the gender gap in math skills. Students who received growth mindset training (compared with a control group that did not) showed significant increases in both their math and verbal test scores. The girls who received the growth mindset training significantly narrowed the gender gap in math compared with the girls in the control group. (Good, Aronson & Inzlicht, 2003. “Improving adolescents’ standardized test performance: An intervention to reduce the effects of stereotype threat,” in Applied Developmental Psychology, 24, pp. 645-662).

In sum

The beautiful thing is that mindset is changeable. The two mindsets are not either / or; they exist on a continuum. With self-awareness and self-management, we can move our mindset steadily toward the growth end of the continuum.

Speaking from her growth mindset, Dweck states, “Mindsets are an important part of your personality, but you can change them. Just by knowing about the two mindsets, you can start thinking and reacting in new ways.”

Clearly, the future belongs to those with a growth mindset.

So, the question is, how can we help our clients change their mindset?


News You Can Use – ISEI in Africa!

Congratulations to Susan Dutton of Smart Relationships in Green Bay, Wisconsin on bringing the social + emotional intelligence program to Lagos, Nigeria in February. She taught the program six times in six days, to educators at a non-governmental organization (all of whom paid to have their individualized SEIP assessments completed on-line), to another group of educators at Pan African University where the teachers are very interested in teaching the concept to their students, to a large group of boys’ schools (the audience was young men / boys), and to a large group of girls’ schools (again, young women and girls), wrapping up with a presentation to the Yaba College of Technology.

The response to Susan’s presentations was phenomenal ! Participants at all presentations expressed their deep gratitude for the material, and there was a great deal of consensus that the program should be widespread in Nigerian schools. Some students expressed a desire for an S+EI coach to be resident at their school so they could have a resource continuously available for help with relationship issues at home and at school.

Susan will be returning to Nigeria later in 2013 or in early 2014 to continue her work there.

Congratulations Susan !!


Susan Dutton of Smart Relationships, certified S+EI coach, presenting the concepts of social + emotional intelligence to a group of educators at Pan African University in February.

News You Can use, continued

Laura’s Speaking Engagements

Tampa, Florida

Laura had the wonderful good fortune to travel to Tampa, FL in February to speak to the Tampa Bay Professional Coaches Association about social + emotional intelligence coaching. What a welcoming and gracious group ! Thank you all for your hospitality. It was a treat to come to warm, sunny Tampa from Colorado in the middle of February! Thank you Laura Scott and Ann Park for your kind and friendly support in setting up this program.

New Jersey in March

Thank you to Lynn Schaber, Andrea Harvey, Fran McTernan and Jamie Sussel Turner for your kind and very professional assistance during our presentation to ICF-New Jersey in March. Laura really enjoyed the interaction and the questions and the strong sense of collegiality within the group. Thank you !! CCEUs available from ICF-NJ Charter Chapter.

Ohio in April

Laura is looking forward to traveling to Cleveland on April 26 – 27 to deliver the Keynote address for the ICF-Cleveland Charter Chapter’s 5th Annual Coaching Showcase. Anyone in the Cleveland area that weekend is welcome to join in the fun on Saturday morning from 8 AM to 1 PM. Early bird registration is open until April 8 (only $45). You can register at Limited walk-in registration will be accepted on the day of the event (for $55). Thank you Joel Head with Headwinds Ltd for your kind invitation to come speak. CCEUs applied for.

Phoenix in May

Thank you Molly O’Neill and Connie Leach for inviting Laura to Phoenix in May for a lunch talk and three-hour workshop on social + emotional intelligence coaching. If anyone in the Phoenix area would like to attend, or if you happen to be visiting there on Friday, May 18, please contact Molly O’Neil, President of the ICF Phoenix Chapter or Connie Leach, Vice President of Programs at and/or respectively. The program will start with lunch and run through the rest of Friday afternoon. Approval for CCEUs is being submitted by the Phoenix chapter.

Minneapolis in June

We are proud, honored and excited to be speaking at the ICF-Midwest Regional Conference being held this year in Minneapolis June 20 – 22 at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott. This is the ONLY large-scale coaching conference in the United States this year, so if you need CCEUs, this will be a great place to get them. The conference theme this year is “Breaking Boundaries: Imagine – Inspire – Impact” and the conference organizers have lined up an amazing array of speakers in four tracks designed to appeal to coaches of all specialties. They are also seeking volunteers and will offer a price break on the conference for anyone stepping up to volunteer.

Early bird registration starts April 1 (and runs through April 30) – Only $447 which includes access to all special events (like the opening night reception), networking events, all breakout sessions, and two of the most dynamic keynote speakers in the business. (On-site registration will be $697, so act fast!) To register, email on April 1st, and for more information about the program, speakers, sponsors, and schedule of events, go to
See you in June in the Cities !!

News You Can Use, continued

Upcoming ISEI Classes

ISEI Certification Courses only two more until Fall, 2013:

Tuesdays, April 2 – May 21, 11 AM Eastern Time, and
Thursdays, May 2 – June 20, 3 PM Eastern Time
($1,595 per registrant; payment terms available)

The certification courses run 8 weeks, once a week for 90 minutes by webinar.

ISEI Certification Course for Coaches in Australia and New Zealand !!
We also have a class running exclusively for coaches in Australia and New Zealand starting in April. For information about this class, please contact Jennifer Marshall, Director of Student Services at the Institute at (or phone: 720-339-6191) or Grant Herbert at People Builders in Sydney by phone (9006 1322, National: 1300 937 000, or International: +61 2 9006 1322) or by email at

Upcoming Specialty (Advanced) Courses:

Leader as Coach, ever popular and always sells out, starts Monday, April 8 and runs 6 weeks to May 13, 11 AM Eastern Time ($795)
Using Positive Psychology to Coach Emotional Intelligence returns on September 12 (through October 17, 6 weeks) at 2 PM Eastern Time ($795)
And Resilient Leaders: Building Strength Through Adversity is coming in October.

CCEUs are now available for our specialty / advanced courses as well as the certification program.

For information on any of these classes, plus our free preview webinars, please check the schedule at

Tools You Can Use - Great learning resources on the Growth Mindset

In addition to Carol’s book, “Mindset: A New Psychology of Success” (which I highly recommend), we wanted to offer you some resources that have appeared in the popular literature - if your growth mindset has you craving to learn more.

The first article is about the growth mindset in adults, the next four refer to developing a growth mindset in kids, and the last resource is an abstract of the original book, “Mindset: A New Psychology of Success” published by Carol Dweck in 2006:

Road Trip to Riches, by Ryan D’Agostino, in Money Magazine, 2006.

How to Help Them Succeed, by Daniel Eisenbert, in TIME Magazine, 2005.,9171,1126743,00.html

Why Praise is Bad for Kids, by Ann Pleshette Murphy and Jennifer Allen, on Good Morning America, 2007

How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise, by Po Bronson in the New York Times Magazine, 2007

The Praise a Child Should Never Hear, by Robin Moroney in The Wall Street Journal, 2007

For an abstract of the original book, Mindset: A New Psychology of Success, go to:

Of course, you can always go to the original source and buy Carol’s book . . .


Great Quotes for March

These great quotes relate directly back to the main story this month on “Growth Mindset.” Enjoy !!

There is something about seeing myself improve that motivates and excites me.
- Jackie Joyner-Kersee

You’re in charge of your mind. You can help it grow by using it in the right way.
- Carol Dweck

A great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.
- Walter Gagehot

Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.
- Joshua J. Marine

I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures . . . I divide the world into the learners and the non-learners.
- Benjamin Barber

The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it’s the same problem you had last year.
- John Foster Dulles

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
- Winston Churchill

We should open ourselves to the impossible and embrace a psychology of possibility.
- Ellen Langer

This is hard. This is fun.
- Carol Dweck summing up the Growth Mindset



Upcoming ISEI® Courses

  • Coach Certification Course - Tue, Aug 11 - Sep 29, 2020, 10-11:30 AM  ET [Register or Learn More] Price: $1799 per registrant
  • Specialty Course: Leader As Coach - Thu, Aug 13 - Sep 17, 2020, 12-1 PM ET [Register or Learn More] Price: $795 per registrant
  • Coach Certification Course - Thu, Sep 10 - Oct 29, 2020, 3-4:30 PM  ET [Register or Learn More] Price: $1799 per registrant
  • Specialty Course: Using Positive Psychology to Coach Emotional Intelligence - Wed, Sep 9 - Oct 14, 2020, 12-1 PM ET [Register or Learn More] Price: $795 per registrant
  • Specialty Course: The Resilient Leader - Thu, Oct 8 - Nov 12, 2020, 3-4 PM ET [Register or Learn More] Price: $795 per registrant
  • Coach Certification Course -  Self-study [Register or Learn More] Price: $1799 per registrant
  • Live Free Webinars  

  • How to Coach S+EI - Thu, Sep 3, 2020, 2-3 PM ET [Click here to register
  • Positive Psychology Recorded  [Click here to listen
  • The Resilient Leader: Instilling Grit - Mon, Sep 14, 5-6 PM, ET [Click here to register
  • Leader As Coach Thu, Dec 10, 3-4 PM ET [Click here to register
  • View all of our FREE Webinars  
  • Sign up for our Newsletter

    [Sign up Here]