Growth Mindset | Thinking for Success


What is a Growth Mindset?

Carol Dweck is a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and the author of Mindset, Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential. Carol Dweck outlines a growth mindset as:

The mindset that our talents can be developed and improved through hard work, good strategies, and input from others.

This is in contrast to a fixed mindset which is:

The mindset that talents are innate gifts that cannot be developed or improved.

Since Carol Dweck’s research into growth mindset, countless studies have identified the right mindset as a key factor in higher levels of success and achievement.


Benefits of a Growth Mindset

Having a growth mindset means understanding that your brain will change and adapt as you challenge yourself. This means with the right mindset we can learn more and learn faster. We’re grittier and more resilient. We’re better at coping with failures and setbacks. And we have higher self-esteem and lower anxiety because we know we can handle whatever life brings.


The Differences Between Fixed and Growth Mindsets

With a fixed mindset failures are embarrassing and show a lack of ability. With a growth mindset failures are opportunities to learn and grow.

With a fixed mindset we look for situations where we can look good. With a growth mindset we seek out new challenges and experiences.

With a fixed mindset we need to hide our limits from others. With a growth mindset we test them every day.


How to Develop a Growth Mindset in Ourselves and Others

Maintaining a growth mindset as often as possible in all we do is essential for success and growth. And if we’re in a leadership position we need to be cultivating the right mindset in others as well.

Inspiring the right mindset in ourselves and others can be narrowed down to one thing; give feedback with a clear path to the future.

“You really worked hard.” instead of “You’re so smart.”

“I’m just not there yet.” instead of “I can’t do it.”

“We’re learning.” instead of “We’re not good enough.”

This kind of self talk and feedback for ourselves and our teams rewards what we’ve done rather than who we are. In doing so we inspire effort, learning, and growth and encourage trying harder next time.


Develop the Habit of Growth Mindset

Our mindset isn’t set in stone. We can change it with self reflection and practice. A pure growth mindset doesn’t exist. We might be confident in our ability to develop creative thinking, while deciding that there’s no way we can lose weight or learn a new language.

To cultivate a growth mindset we need to develop the habit through self reflection. When we recognise a fixed mindset in our self talk or feedback we need to become aware of it and change our thinking. Over time a growth mindset will develop and we’ll be more comfortable and more confident in pushing our limits.