At Ginger.io, we spend a lot of time thinking about overall well-being. While sharing our summer plans, we realized that while we were all excited for sunshine, the barbecues, beach days, and other social events of the season gave us feelings of “so many new people.”
To help think through how to be our best selves in the face of summer’s social stress, Ginger.io team member Julia sat down with Ed Batista, an executive coach and Instructor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Ed, who is a thought-leader on the topics of personal growth and empowerment, is writing a book on self-coaching for Harvard Business Review Press.
Ed had a number of thoughts on how we can be our best social selves but also find time to reflect. This is just the beginning of the conversation – let us know at @ginger_io what resonated with you and how you find time for yourself over the summer — and in any social situation.
Be open to using social situations as a chance to grow
Our self-perception can have a huge impact on how we act. Ed is a big fan (and we are too) of the work of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck on mindset. Dweck’s research has found that most people have either a fixed mindset or growth mindset. With a fixed mindset, we view our talents and capabilities as things we can’t change. In a growth mindset, we view our capabilities as flexible and responsive. People in a fixed mindset are less resilient and persistent in the face of obstacles, and more likely to be self-critical, whereas people in a growth mindset are focused on finding opportunities for improvement.
In social situations, a fixed mindset can increase our fear of mistakes and lead to social anxiety. We all know that feeling of being tongue-tied because we’re afraid to say the wrong thing. The work of Michigan State psychologist Jason Moser shows that when we screw up, we have two brain responses — the initial, emotional “oh no!” and the subsequent review of the incident. People in a fixed mindset are less likely to spend time on the latter, whereas those in a growth mindset are curious about screw ups and focus on using them to learn. If we give ourselves permission to make mistakes, we open ourselves up to being more in the moment and able to enjoy those social conversations.
Take control, but have compassion for yourself
Having a growth mindset and learning from mistakes is self-empowering. It means saying I am in control of my reactions, and have the ability to change. The flipside of this, however, is that sometimes self-empowerment can become self-doubt in the face of those things it takes time to change or that we can’t affect. This is especially true when there are emotional or physical factors affecting how we feel.
Thus, having compassion for yourself is an important part of self-empowerment. Recognizing that if we have patience with ourselves we will not only open ourselves up to others but make it easier to learn is an important part of becoming comfortable and reducing our social stress. Ed suggests finding the happiness strategy that may be right for you, whether it be smiling or another approach.
Find your way of finding time to reflect
Self-empowerment and growth are hard work, and require time for reflection. Reflection can be solitary, through journals, writing or digital tools like Ginger.io. Ed uses his blog and book as a way to capture his thoughts and often asks the people he works with to journal.
Reflection can also happen through the relationships that challenge us to challenge ourselves. Finding a support network or coaching team of people who you can talk to can also help you find the time you need to focus on yourself and the relationships that matter to you in the midst of a busy summer season.