Four years ago, I literally didn’t have a clue that I would become a web developer and maintain a site and newsletter for Muslim women in tech. I was a full-time stay at home mom, and all of my energy was focused on caring for my babies. I never learned how to code, never built a website, and honestly never really thought about it. So how did I teach myself what I needed to learn to get to where I am? Before anything else, I needed to believe that it was possible. I had a healthy growth mindset that made me feel confident that I could learn anything. A growth mindset is the single most significant factor in what influences your ability to visualize what you want, work purposefully, and achieve your goals.
What is a growth mindset?
A growth mindset is simply the belief that self-improvement is possible. That we can strive for more beyond our current situation. A fixed or limited mindset is trapped in the present (or even the past). It’s the belief that we don’t have the ability or resources to move beyond how we perceive ourselves at this current moment. And resources doesn’t just mean money; it also includes skills, knowledge, connections, time, and even confidence.
You will absolutely 100% come across someone who is impressed by your career in tech and says something like, “I wish I could do that too, but I’m not smart enough.” That person subconsciously puts a cap on their abilities, and they will not be able to grow past their current state without removing that limit first. They can’t get into a growth mindset without working on and moving past their fixed mindset.
Being good at programming has nothing to do with how smart you are. It’s all about thinking logically, breaking big problems into smaller ones, and not being afraid to challenge yourself. So many of the women we featured in Tech Sisters’ Stories told us that a growth mindset was the most important reason for their success. Just have a look at what Amany, Rahma, Zuzana, and Naveera all said how they used their growth mindset.
Of course, a growth mindset isn’t only limited to a work context. It’s the key to developing a vision of who you want to become in all areas of your life – career, relationships, finances, health, and deen. Choose to get into the habit of genuinely believing that you have the ability to learn and grow and change your situation. This is something that will have a profound impact on your life and on everyone in our lives.
3 Ways you can go build a growth mindset
Do you want to have a growth mindset, but feel like you’re stuck in fixed thinking? Well, good news! The way we think and behave is continuously evolving as we go through life. It is entirely possible to cultivate a growth mindset. Actually believing that a growth mindset is even possible is the first step towards getting one.
Own your attitude
But it takes time to make significant changes in the way we think. If you’ve had a fixed mindset your whole life, those thought patterns are carved deep into your brain, and it’s easy to slide back into that way of thinking. So watch out for your thoughts and words. You can’t control what thoughts pass through your brain, but you can choose which thoughts to focus and hold on to. Learn to recognize the difference between thoughts that support a fixed mindset and those that support a growth mindset. Only hold on to thoughts that support who you want to be and peacefully let go of the rest.
Explore and appreciate what makes you you – your strengths and your weaknesses. Have an honest look at where you want to be and how you’re holding yourself back. Tap into your sense of purpose and stay authentic to yourself.
Acknowledge and embrace that all of us are imperfect humans on a journey. Everyone, even the tech unicorns you admire, have faults and challenges we need to overcome before we succeed. Trust your instincts and do what you need to do without concerning yourself about the approval of others. We’re all running our own race, and you can be sure that winners don’t look over at other lanes to see what everyone else is doing.
Make obstacles smaller and less scary by reframing
When you’re faced with a seemingly impossible challenge, frameshift and change perspective. Problems come in two forms:
- When you’re not getting what you want
- When you don’t know how to get what you want
As Marie Forleo says, “Everything is figureoutable.” Every problem has a solution, but we’re so stuck in our limited perspectives and emotions, that we can’t see any way out. So instead of focusing on the negatives, focus on the positives of what’s happening to you. Think of one thing you can do right away to take responsibility for your situation. Question and examine your problem from different perspectives. Learn to love the challenge, love the journey of becoming someone who has a growth mindset. Take full responsibility for your desired outcome and determine the action steps you need to get there. Never forget that you have everything you need, and anything can be achieved (if broken down into small chunks).
Trust in Allah
This is a site for Muslim women, and so the last piece of the puzzle, and absolutely the most important, is remembering Allah. Remember that Allah (swt) is the Master Creator, He is Limitless, there is nothing that can deplete His Greatness at all. Raise up your hopes and dreams to Him and know with complete certainty that He is al-Mujeeb, His response is guaranteed, even it comes in a way we can’t perceive. Don’t feel shy about dreams that feel unrealistic or impossible. Just as our Helper is Limitless, His help is limitless, and we are limitless through His help. Have complete trust that His support, no matter what form it comes, is making you a better person, a better Muslim, and closer to the perfection of our Rabb.
A growth mindset is about belief and responsibility. It’s choosing to no longer believe you’re stuck in your present state and accepting the truth that change is possible. It’s deciding to stop letting things happen to you and starting to take responsibility to take action to make it happen. If you want something to change in your life, take the time to examine yourself, and cultivate a healthy growth mindset. Once you have that, you can do anything!