In 2014, psychologist Carol Dweck's Ted Talk took the internet by storm. Though the video had a clunky title, "The Power of Believing You Can Improve" introduced a radical concept to the world: growth mindset.
A growth mindset is an approach toward learning that refrains from labeling oneself. It views failed attempts to master a new skill or task as steps on the way to success.
Dweck's talk inspired millions to keep researching, learning, and pursuing mastery, rather than get stuck in a fixed mindset. That is, to believe that our potential exceeds wherever we happen to be right now.
What does that mean for us today? Do you have a growth mindset, and, if not, is it worth cultivating? How can you develop a growth mindset right now?
Read on to discover exactly what a growth mindset is, how it works, and how to make it work for you.
A mindset is a set of beliefs that drive our thoughts, emotions, and actions. A growth mindset is the belief that you have the ability to grow stronger, smarter, wiser, or more skilled with practice.
It's the opposite of a fixed mindset.
A person with a fixed mindset believes that, even with practice, they will not get stronger, smarter, or more skilled. Fixed mindset beliefs state a person's abilities and potential are largely pre-determined.
Growth mindset beliefs state that we can all expand and grow our potential just as we grow our skills. Potential itself is not fixed.
In truth, most people have both fixed and growth mindsets about different aspects of their lives.
A growth mindset improves a person's odds of success in any endeavor. It even limits the negative impact poverty has on educational achievement.
A person with a growth mindset is less likely to give up when they hit a barrier to their progress.
A person with a fixed mindset often believes they have reached the end of their potential when they face a wall. But a person with a growth mindset simply believes they haven't solved the problem yet.
They believe they can, ultimately, learn how to do so. So, they keep trying.
Research into growth mindset shows it has a positive effect on intrinsic motivation. High levels of internal motivation increase a person's ability to control their thoughts, solve problems, and modify behavior.
Neurologically, people experience a greater internal reward after solving challenges if they have a growth mindset already.
There are many examples of the positive impact of a growth mindset in studies. In one study, students in Hong Kong learning English improved their writing skills faster when they had a growth mindset.
Students with a growth mindset tended to use intentional strategies to improve their writing and check for mistakes. They believed they could learn to write better. So, they were motivated to try multiple strategies to improve.
Popular growth mindset activities involve celebrating progress, rather than accomplishment alone. Consider "before and after" demonstrations of skills, to highlight that growth and improvement are worthwhile.
Also, be open about failure. How do you approach fixing mistakes and learning as a leader?
A growth mindset makes overcoming challenges more rewarding. That empowers you to keep trying and to pursue strategies to learn new information or skills.
But, if you don't have a growth mindset already, how can you cultivate one? Try these techniques:
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