The term Growth Mindset seems to be everywhere these days. But what exactly is a growth mindset?
Let’s begin with the origin of the term.
The idea of a growth mindset was developed by Dr. Carol Dweck, a psychologist, and author of the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
According to Dr. Dweck, “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”Dr. Carol S. Dweck, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”
So what’s the alternative to a growth mindset?
A FIXED MINDSET.
Dr. Dweck says, “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”Dr. Carol S. Dweck, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”
In a nutshell:
- GROWTH MINDSET = Belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.
- FIXED MINDSET = Belief that no amount of effort and work will change one’s abilities.
What is your mindset? Growth or fixed?
Think about how YOU tend to view your personal traits, challenges, mistakes, and accomplishments.
When was the last time you experienced a significant challenge in your life? How did you respond?
How you answer this question is your first clue as to whether you’re operating with a growth or fixed mindset.
Do you embrace learning new skills even when it’s uncomfortable? Do you enjoy challenges, learn from your mistakes, and believe that with effort and hard work, you will be successful?
If so, this describes a growth mindset.
Or do you usually shy away from challenges, fear embarrassment or failure, and avoid mistakes at all costs?
If so, this points to a fixed mindset.
Again, depending on how you answer these questions, you’ve got a pretty good indication of what type of mindset you’ve got. Growth or fixed.
It’s been a few decades since Dr. Dweck and her colleagues became increasingly interested in beliefs surrounding achievement and failure. Throughout their research, they observed that some people bounced back quickly after a disappointment or setback, (what became known as a ‘growth mindset’) while others were devastated and experienced an extreme drop in confidence, (what became known as a ‘fixed mindset’).
mindset describes the underlying, (and powerful!) beliefs that people have about their own intelligence and learning abilities.
When people believe they can get smarter, they understand the need to exert effort and practice in order to improve their intelligence. The same can be said for athletic pursuits, artistic endeavors, and any other skill a person is interested in obtaining.
Dr. Dweck’s research implies that people who have a growth mindset believe that they have the ability to learn, become smarter, and develop new skills. They understand that the more effort they exert and the more consistent they are in this effort, the more likely it is that they will gain skills and see improvement.
When these individuals make mistakes or fail, (which we’re ALL bouned to do sometimes!) they understand that this is simply part of the learning process and pick themselves up to face more challenges. When they’re confused and overwhelmed, they ask questions and reach out for support.
Their belief in themselves is ABUNDANT; it’s rooted in GROWTH.
On the other hand, people who have a fixed mindset tend to learn less than they are capable of learning and avoid challenges for fear that they won’t be able to perform well or that they will embarrass themselves.
When these same people make mistakes or fail, (which WILL happen because, again, we ALL make mistakes!) they have a very difficult time bouncing back. They assume that they are just bad at a specific task. Instead of asking for help or clarification, they allow their fear of being judged to hold them back from seeking support.
Their belief in themselves is LIMITED; it’s FIXED.
Examples of Mindset:
“Painting is much harder than I thought it would be. But I know I’ll get better if I keep practicing.” – GROWTH MINDSET
“I am hopeless at budgeting. I just don’t have the discipline for it.” – FIXED MINDSET
“I’m not very good at tennis yet. But I know I will get better if I work hard.” – GROWTH MINDSET (Notice the word ‘yet’. It’s a powerful word and expresses possibility and growth.)
“I want to get stronger but what’s the point of weight training? I don’t have the time or energy to make it to the gym.” – FIXED MINDSET
So are we BORN with our mindset?
And if we’re born with a FIXED mindset, does this mean we’re doomed to a life filled with limits?
While the concept of nature vs nurture, genetics, and biochemistry obviously play a significant role in how we perceive the world around us, there is A LOT we can do ourselves to improve our ability to strengthen our minds.
According to Dr. Dweck’s research, as well as the latest research in neuroscience, our brains are WAY more adaptable than we previously thought! Lots of research on brain plasticity shows that neuron connectivity actually has the ability to change.
This change occurs through consistent practice, and the result of this practice is that neural networks actually grow NEW connections and strengthen connections that are already existing.
These incredible discoveries illustrate how we’re able to increase neural growth which actually alters the way that we think!
Our brains literally have the ability to grow stronger and change with consistent effort!
Challenging ourselves, practicing consistently, using positive self-talk, and reaching out for support are all ways to strengthen our brains and become more growth-oriented.
we can “exercise” our brains by thinking positive thoughts and practicing empowering reactions to challenges.
This is such encouraging news!
As I’ve tried to incorporate developing a growth mindset in my own life, I’ve compiled a list of 10 practices that help me on a regular basis.
Are you interested in learning about these 10 tips for developing a growth mindset? If so, I encourage you to read about them and incorporate whatever you can into your own life!
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