The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.
What are you really good at?
Has it always been that way?
Where do you think your abilities come from?
And if you have to work hard at something, what does that say about you?
In her over two decades of research, psychological researcher Carol Dweck found that our beliefs about whether personality and intelligence can be developed (vs. being genetically ingrained in us) have incredible power to shape both our view of ourselves and our approach to life’s challenges.
These beliefs can be divided, Dweck contends in her book Mindset, into 2 basic mindsets:
Fixed vs. Growth.
Whereas the former mindset creates a hunger for approval, the latter mindset leads to a passion for learning.
But, that’s not where the differences end.
In the Fixed mindset…
Intelligence is viewed as static, which leads to a desire to look smart, and therefore a tendency to:
- avoid challenges
- give up early when faced with setbacks
- see effort as fruitless
- ignore useful criticism
- feel threatened by the success of others
As a result, folks with this mindset may plateau early and achieve less than their potential.
This further reinforces their view that any talent is predetermined…
And so they continue to avoid challenges.
In the Growth mindset, however…
Intelligence is viewed as dynamic (something that can be developed), which leads to a desire to learn, and therefore a tendency to:
- embrace challenges
- persist when faced with setbacks
- see effort as the path to mastery
- learn from useful criticism
- find lessons and inspiration in the success of others
As a result, folks with this mindset may reach even higher levels of achievement.
This further reinforces their view that any talent can be developed…
And so they continue to embrace new challenges.
Convinced that the growth mindset is where it’s at?
Ready to start applying it today??
Read on for 4 areas of your life that can benefit from a shift to the growth mindset:
1. The things you try
No matter what your current ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.
Take a moment right now to pause and consider the things you try…
the opportunities you seek
the experiences you gravitate towards
the books you read
the activities you do
the perspectives you expose yourself to
the conversations you engage in
Now be honest:
Do you tend towards things that challenge and stretch you? Or things that are more comfortable and familiar?
In the fixed mindset, trying new things elevates the risk of being exposed as less intelligent, talented, or capable than you’re believed to be.
But, in the growth mindset, trying new things elevates the opportunities to develop greater intelligence, talent, and capability than you had before.
- What opportunities am I missing by purposely staying in my comfort zone?
- Which of my talents and capabilities would I most like to develop further?
- When I succeed at something, do I take it as a sign that I’m talented? Or do I take it as a sign I’m capable of taking on a new challenge?
2. The mistakes you make
Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better?
So, you gave something a try and it didn’t pan out. (Maybe you even bombed.)
Mistakes are no fun…
…or can they be?
In the fixed mindset, life’s a giant scoreboard and mistakes are evidence that you’re falling behind.
But, in the growth mindset, life’s a giant menu and mistakes are food you can metabolize into fuel for the next day.
- What did I learn today?
- What mistake have I made lately that taught me something?
- What did I try hard at today? What will it look like to try hard tomorrow?
3. The way you relate
The growth mindset says that you, your partner, and your relationships are capable of growth and change.
One way the fixed mindset can threaten a relationship is by planting the assumption that “If we have to work at this, it wasn’t meant to be.”
It simply isn’t true!
In the growth mindset, relationship challenges are actually opportunities to deepen and enrich the quality of the relationship.
- What have I learned from past relationship challenges and hurts? What am I carrying with me into my current or future relationships?
- What are my beliefs about a healthy relationship? What role do I believe obstacles and conflict will play?
- When my partner and I experience conflict, where do I tend to place blame? How might I shift from blaming my partner to viewing us as mutually capable of creating change in the relationship?
4. The legacy you leave
If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.
As parents, caregivers, teachers, and loved ones, we understand the importance of encouraging the young people in our lives to believe in themselves.
And yet, so much of the praise we offer children is reinforcing the fixed mindset without our even realizing it!
Whereas fixed-mindset praise is all about ability (i.e., being smart), growth-mindset praise is all about effort (i.e., becoming smart).
- When a child succeeds on some test of their ability, which type of praise do I offer her?
- FIXED: “Wow, you got a great score! You’re so good at math!“
- GROWTH: “Wow, you got a great score! You’ve worked so hard at math!“
- How can I rephrase some of my go-to types of (fixed mindset) feedback to reinforce the growth mindset instead?
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Ready to learn more about shifting your mindset?