Mindset is important because to be successful we must go beyond our boundaries. But how do we do that? I am national level martial artist and in this article I will discuss how to develop a growth mindset, what it is and how it differs from a fixed mindset.
What is a Growth Mindset?
A growth mindset is an attitude you have about yourself and the learning process. It means you believe through practice, hard work and feedback you can improve and grow at anything you attempt. The term “growth mindset” was coined by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
Growth Mindset v Fixed Mindset
A fixed mindset is when we believe that our skills and talents are mostly set from birth so we cannot improve on them. People with a fixed mindset avoid challenges, take fewer risks and give up quickly when they do try something new.
People with a growth mindset take more risks because they believe even if they do not succeed the first time they can try again and improve. They know where they are now is just the starting point and not the final destination. Entrepreneurs have a growth mindset.
It’s Not One or the Other
Individuals do not have exclusively fixed or growth mindset. Usually it is tilted one way more than the other, but is also dependent on the area of life.
E.g Some might consider themselves to have a fixed mindset when it comes to intellectual pursuits and growth mindset with physical activities.
Here are some examples of fixed versus Growth mindset thinking:
|Growth Mindset||Fixed Mindset|
|Passing an exam||I studied hard and passed.||I am naturally good at this subject|
|Feedback||Feedback helps me grow.||Feedback is criticism.|
|Learning||I can learn anything I want.||I’m either good or not.|
|Risk||I like to try new things||I stick to what I am good at.|
|Failure||Is an opportunity to grow||Is a sign of the limit to my skill|
How to Develop a Growth Mindset
1. Develop a Growth Mindset by Understanding It’s Benefits
If you do not believe and understand the benefits of a growth mindset you will not bother to try and develop it.
2. What is Your Current Mindset?
Go through different aspects of your life a ask what mindset you have for it, growth or fixed.
Simply ask “Do I believe I can improve in this area through practice, guidance and feedback?”
Make a list and you will get a good idea about your overall mindset.
3. Review Your Achievements
Using your list look back at the areas and compare which ones you improved at the most and have the most success in.
Is their a correlation between growth mindset activities and higher level of success?
This is not always straight forward. We maybe good at something without having worked hard at it because it came natural to us. In that area it may seem like a fixed mindset is true. That’s fine. We do not want to perfect in this, it is not a science.
We want to know if we can use the growth mindset and improve our lives. If it works then who cares about whether we can prove it in a scientific setting or if it fits a prevailing growth mindset theory.
And who is to say you would not be even better at the thing you are naturally talented at if you had a growth mindset?
At this point you are looking for patterns and opportunities to improve.
Take those areas you have a fixed mindset and change it to a growth mindset, and track the improvements. It can be exciting to improve in an area you had believed you were not good at.
4. Learn from Others
Look at others who are successful.
Ask if they believe they can improve and if they value feedback.
A yes to both means they have a growth mindset.
5. Develop a Growth Mindset by Learning Something New
If you were predominantly and a fixed mindset person it’s probably been a while since you tried anything new.
Pick a sport, a new language or work related skill and apply the growth mindset to it. A key element of people with a growth mindset is they new embrace challenges.
6. Power of Yet
In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck writes about using the power of “yet”.
When you are learning something new or trying to improve you will fail and want to give up. This is where you use the word “yet”.
Rather than saying “ I am not good at this”
You say “I am not good at this, yet”.
Try it now, it feels different.
7. Get Feedback
If you hear feedback as criticism then seek more of it.
It will initially make you feel bad however the more you seek it out the less it will affect you in a negative way.
Eventually you will start seeing it as a net positive. Who you seek feedback from matters. Everyone has an opinion but not everyone is qualified or experienced to give you constructive, useful feedback. And not everyone has the best of intentions.
Being comfortable with feedback is an essential part of having a growth mindset. We are good at fooling ourselves and lock ourselves away in the echo chamber of our own delusions. We need others and the world around us to give a reality check.
8. People Who Develop Growth Mindsets Make Mistakes
You will make mistakes, we all do. Get comfortable with it. The more you make them, learn and carry on the less they affect you.
9. Keep Track of Improvements
We often get into negative thinking and lose sight of how far we have come.
Especially when you begin going from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset keep track of the improvements you are making.
10. Be Kind to Yourself
If you have a fixed mindset you believe you were born a certain way, so when you fail it is a reflection of who you are. This means you have a harsh way of talking to yourself when you fail.
Change this. Failing is a sign that you have not gotten skilled at it yet. That is all. Be kind to yourself.
And remind yourself success is a complex issue with lots of luck involved, it’s not an easy road for anybody.
This article explains how to identify the ways you talk to yourself and how to change it, Life Scripts: The Hidden Patterns that Control Your Life.
11. Growth Mindset Says “You are Not a Victim”
There are many things you have achieved in your life, you probably don’t even think about them. Not matter how simple they may seem to you there is someone in the world who would find them difficult.
A fixed mindset can get you into a victim mindset, a growth mindset is about taking charge of your life and going for what you want. Unleash Your Hunter Archetype.
12. Be Realistic
Things take time, do not expect too much to soon. And do not be discouraged when growth inevitably slows down, we have inherent mental biases we will also have to overcome. so be kind to yourself.
Improvement happens in steps and stages , it is not a smooth upward trajectory.
13. Stop Worrying About What Others Think
Stop seeking approval. People’s own ideas and agenda’s are not yours. What you want to achieve may not be what others think is the best use of your time. We are all different, waiting for others approval before doing something means you will be at the whims of others opinions and moods. It can also be a subtle way to control people, “If I do things they approve of, I can make them like me”. When we are trying to control others we are not focused on our own growth.
Intelligence and Personality are Better Predictors
A growth mindset is not the only predictor of success, intelligence and personality are better predictors.
Success is a complex issue. We must take into account socio economic factors. As well as innate IQ and emotional intelligence and skills. Not to forget good old fashioned luck.
There are many factors that we cannot predict, eg a life changing world event.
But we must not dismiss mindset, it’s an important factor. If you think about it, It makes sense that a having a mindset that believes in improvement, learning and the ability of the brain and body to form new patterns of behaviour will be more motivational. It will also encourage you to try more things and in the process learn new skills as well as meet new people and opportunities.
Growth Mindset and Positive Mindset
A growth mindset is positive, as it based on the belief that through hard work and persistence you will reach the goal and skill level you want. However it is not the same as positive thinking when solely used as a way to boost optimism.
A growth mindset means an attitude of improvement and learning. People with a growth mindset take more risks, embrace challenges and have a more curious attitude towards life than those with fixed mindsets.
We all have both fixed and growth mindsets. In certain areas we feel we cannot improve because it is part of our inherited genetic makeup and in others areas we feel we can practice and improve.
Our initial talents and existing abilities in an area can influence our own mindset. If we are not good we may assume we have a fixed mindset. We also assume a fixed mindset if we are naturally good at something, we may say it was a god given talent.
You can develop a growth mindset through practice and embracing challenges. Like anything worthwhile it takes time and perseverance, but it is definitely something you can cultivate.