Do you have a growth mindset? Have you ever convinced yourself that “I’m just not a maths person,” or “I’m no good at learning languages”? Have you ever given up on a problem because you feel you’re just not smart enough to finish it?? This may have due to your mindset around your ability to change and grow.
Carol Dweck’s mindset theory is about how people implicitly attribute the causes of their intelligence and other factors. Our mindset is often shaped through how we are praised and rewarded during childhood.
With a growth mindset comes the belief that basic qualities and abilities can be developed through hard work, effort and dedication (“if I work hard, I can succeed at this,” “if I put in more effort next time, I could get a better outcome”). A growth mindset is linked with receiving praise or feedback for your effort, progress or strategy on a task, as opposed to receiving praise for intelligence or being talented. As a result, those with a growth mindset are more resilient in the face of setbacks and see setbacks as learning experiences. They are more motivated, they seek out learning opportunities and perceive effortful or difficult tasks as making them feel capable or smart.
In contrast, a fixed mindset, is the belief that traits and abilities such as intelligence, personality, talent or particular skills are fixed traits which we can’t change (“I was never a numbers person”, “I wasn’t born smart” etc). A fixed mindset is associated with being praised for outcomes (winning or losing!) or being praised as intelligent or talented. As a result, those with a fixed mindset may avoid challenges, and may feel incapable when a difficult task requiring effort comes along, as they fear that failure is a reflection of their character, and may reveal they’re not intelligent or talented. Those with a fixed mindset are less likely to show resilience and perseverance in the face of setbacks and will show decreased motivation for difficult tasks. Children with a fixed mindset may also show increased distractibility in the classroom, and will try and validate their intelligence through performance.
Do you want to learn more about how a fixed or growth mindset can be developed in children? Click here to watch a fantastic video!!
How can you develop more of a growth mindset? Try these simple tips.
- Reflect on a time you’ve had a positive outcome on a work task, assignment or other important goal. What was it that you did that helped you to succeed? How much time did you spend preparing or practising? What was the strategy you chose which helped you achieve your goal?
- Next time you set yourself a goal around achieving a particular outcome, also set yourself a learning goal. Despite the outcome of the goal, what could you learn through the process of striving to achieve your goal? For example, if I had a goal of successfully delivering a presentation at work, I could set concurrent learning goals such as developing my knowledge in the presentation topic, developing my confidence in public speaking, and developing my skills in leading a project.
- Reframe your failures as “learning opportunities.” Consider a time you didn’t achieve the outcome you set out to achieve. What did you learn from this failure? What were the skills or learnings you gained whilst working on the process of the goal?
- Are you finding the thought of a difficult task daunting? Set yourself small but achievable goals, and break the larger task down into smaller more manageable chunks. Do you need more knowledge or information before you start the task? Set this as your first goal! When you achieve this, spend time reflecting on the learnings you gained.
- Have realistic expectations around the time and effort needed to learn a new skill or accomplish a task. Learning something new takes time – be sure to reward yourself for the effort you’re putting in along the way, and remember to keep your focus on the learnings you’re gaining along the way, rather than a win or lose outcome!!
Would you try these tips? Is your mindset a growth mindset?
- Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Constable & Robinson Limited.