What is the growth mindset?
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to persevere and prosper in all of life’s challenges while others appear to fall at the first hurdle? Psychologist Carol Dweck first took interest in this phenomenon and its impact on our understanding of intelligence and learning, coming up with the terms ‘fixed mindset’ and ‘growth mindset’.
Fixed mindset vs growth mindset
In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic abilities, like talent or intelligence, are fixed. Believing that people are born with a set amount of these traits and can only function to their innate capacity, regardless of the amount of effort they apply. People with this mindset spend their time maintaining their talent or intelligence instead of developing and strengthening them. People with this mindset tend to struggle in the face of challenges, with lowered self-confidence and resilience.
So, what purpose does the fixed mindset have you may ask? While it may appear that this mindset doesn’t have any particularly helpful qualities, it actually plays an important role in our survival. For example, most people have a fixed mindset about skydiving without a parachute. As human beings we cannot fly, we know we cannot fly, and we know that no matter how much belief we have in our ability, or any amount of time and effort we put in, we still will not be able to fly. This is an example of a normal, appropriate fixed mindset. However, when we begin applying this mindset to the challenges we may face throughout our lives, our attempts to overcome them will become increasingly difficult.
In a growth mindset, people believe their basic abilities, like talent and intelligence, are flexible and can be built upon with hard work and dedication. People with this mindset see talent and intelligence as a starting point, with endless potential for growth. People with this mindset tend to thrive in the face of challenges, although not without the occasional roadblock, however these people are able to harness determination and perseverance to push through. An excellent place to utilise the growth mindset is therapy, believing in your ability to challenge old, not so useful patterns of thinking and behaving and develop new, healthy patterns.
So, you may be wondering how is a growth mindset achieved? Here are 10 ways you can develop your growth mindset when taking on life’s challenges:
- Throw away the concept of perfection
You’ve probably heard it millions of times before, “nobody is perfect” and “perfection isn’t everything”. While it can be hard to believe, the growth mindset embraces imperfections, allowing us to focus on areas of self-improvement.
- Reflect on your past experiences
If you don’t acknowledge your mistakes, you will never learn from them. Use these instances as lessons instead of seeing them as failures.
- Find you purpose
Reflect on what it is you are wanting to achieve. Having clear goals in mind allows you to find other ways to reach them when you experience roadblocks.
- View life challenges as opportunities
Instead of approaching new challenges with dread and fear, look as them as opportunities. An opportunity to learn, to grow, to strengthen your abilities.
- Stop seeking external approval
Spending all of your time and effort trying to impress others is exhausting, not to mention a waste of your growth potential. Instead, seek your own approval, celebrate your own achievements, and aim to impress yourself.
- Value the process over the end result (emphasise growth over speed)
When you focus on the end result, you miss out on valuable learning moments that can improve your overall development. Emphasise growth potential over the speed it takes to get there.
- Foster perseverance and grit
A key aspect of the growth mindset is the presence of resilience and self-determination. When you’re confronted with challenging moments, instead of giving up, keep pushing through! This mindset finds the beauty in the struggle.
- Think realistically about time and effort (SMART goals)
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day! Learning takes time, it is impossible to master a skill, regardless of how easy you think it may be, on the first try. When constructing your goals, keep them realistic in both time and effort constraints. This allows you to check them off with ease, providing a sense of accomplishment and pride – acting as a source of encouragement and reinforcement.
- Adopt the phrases “yet” and “learning”
Instead of “I can’t do this”, try “I can’t do this yet, but I’m learning”. Shifting from pessimistic self-talk to more optimistic self-talk you actively acknowledge that despite struggles, you can overcome anything you face – ultimately contributing to your overall development.
- Practice mindfulness
Meditation, stretching and even a leisurely walk allows you to clear your mind and focus on the present moment. Engaging in these practices allows you to loosen your grip on old habits and limiting ‘fixed’ ways of thinking, contributing to your self-improvement endeavours.
And remember, mindset is like a muscle – the more you work on it, the stronger it will become!
Dweck, C. (2021). Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’ (Opinion). Retrieved 5 July 2021, from https://www.edweek.org/leadership/opinion-carol-dweck-revisits-the-growth-mindset/2015/09?cmp=cpc-goog-ew-growth%20mindset&ccid=growth%20mindset&ccag=growth%20mindset&cckw=%2Bgrowth%20%2Bmindset&cccv=content%20ad&gclid=Cj0KEQiAnvfDBRCXrabLl6-6t-0BEiQAW4SRUM7nekFnoTxc675qBMSJycFgwERohguZWVmNDcSUg5gaAk3I8P8HAQ