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Published on January 21, 2020

17 Ways To Develop a Growth Mindset

17 Ways To Develop a Growth Mindset

What if your learning potential was something you didn’t even know? What if it was impossible for you to know what you could achieve in the span of a few years?

According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, that situation I mentioned isn’t hypothetical. There are many of us who don’t know where our work or effort would take us. But there are those who do know.

How much people can achieve comes down to their mindset — a growth mindset. Dweck outlines all of this in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In the book, she outlines what a fixed mindset is and how a growth mindset thrives from challenges and failures alike.

But there is more than Dweck’s research and analysis. There is a lot of information outlining how beneficial having this type of mindset can be.

What Is a Growth Mindset?

A growth mindset, according to Lexia Learning is like this:[1]

Growth mindset is the idea that, with effort, it’s possible to increase intelligence levels, talents, and abilities. Students who demonstrate a growth mindset believe their abilities develop over time, tend to seek out opportunities to gain new knowledge and broaden their skills, and do not typically shy away from challenges .

To best understand what a growth mindset is, it’s important to know another mindset. When people talk about it, they often compare a growth mindset to a fixed mindset.

A fixed mindset is a belief that our intelligence and our talents are static. Those who think this way judge whether they have the skill or not. If not, they’ll turn down anything that allows them to grow.

We see this all the time in everyday life.

People turn down management positions because they don’t believe they’re good enough. Or maybe you don’t bother applying for a job because you don’t think you can do the job justice or you’re not qualified.

This is a fixed mindset at work because we compare our own skills with what’s being asked of us.

A growth mindset, on the other hand, is the polar opposite. These are the people who will throw out resumes for the sake of it, not worried so much if they get the position or not.

What’s the Point of a Growth Mindset?

As you can piece together, a growth mindset is essential to learning. When we believe that our talents and skills aren’t static and that they can adapt and grow as we do, we start to put more effort into all manners of life.

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While what Lexia Learning focused on is the teaching environment, this mindset can apply in all aspects of our lives. From getting more in shape to being a better partner or friend, and more.

When we have a growth mindset, we:

  • Start to look for challenges.
  • Perform better than others. That’s because we see failures as reasons to try again with more knowledge than before.
  • Have a better grasp of why success and advancing in life means for us.

This is only the beginning though. There are all kinds of perks that come from being better at the aspects of our life on top of that. Better health means having more energy to do things and be around the people you care about.

You can say that this mindset is a foundation for a variety of perks that stretch over our entire lives.

17 Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset

There are a number of avenues for us to be developing a growth mindset. Pick out the methods that work best for you and implement them into your life.

1. Focus on Your Effort

Effort is an obvious one, but in terms of a growth mindset, it’s one you have to be careful about. While we will be working towards our goal regardless, there are elements along the way that can disrupt us.

For example, consider praise. Praise can help us in pushing forward. After all, we all love a nice pat on the back or some words of encouragement. But it’s something that you have to be careful about.

One study has already toted praise as a good intrinsic motivator.[2] But it doesn’t mean any sort of praise works.

It’s important that while putting in the effort, we are praising our efforts instead of our abilities. For example, don’t praise your ability of being great at your job. Praise the effort and devotion to your craft instead.

Why?

Dweck explained it best:

The ability praise pushed students right into the fixed mindset, and they showed all the signs of it, too: When we gave them a choice, they rejected a challenging new task that they could learn from. They didn’t want to do anything that could expose their flaws and call into question their talent.

Even though this was in a student case, adults are no different. When we focus on our abilities, we push ourselves into thinking of them in a static way. That we’re not able to improve them and that we’ve plateaued.

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2. Ask Different Questions

Questions are the building blocks of learning when you think about them. Going back to what I mentioned above, when we push ourselves to “just try harder next time,” we’re not learning anything.

Instead, whenever you fail, reword your questions. Ask yourself “what could I do differently”, or “what worked and what didn’t?” This strategy helps with kids so they’re not working hard and getting similar results. This applies to adults as well.

3. Get Feedback Proactively

Those questions are part of feedback of course, but you can always look for feedback in other ways.

When you have a growth mindset, it’s almost instinct that you look for feedback. For some, it’s akin to looking for new challenges.

Here’s How to Learn Faster with a Feedback Loop.

4. Be Persistent with Your Purpose

Part of learning is failing and getting back up and trying again. It’s persistence at its core, but you do need to be cautious.

As I hinted at with asking questions, you don’t want to fall into a loop where you’re doing one thing over and over again and getting nowhere. That’s the definition of insanity, keep doing the same work but expecting different results. Instead, make sure that you are moving forward with a purpose.

How you get to that purpose is up to you. It could be looking for a new method of execution, looking at yourself and what you could change.

5. Do Things That Are Tough

Those who have a fixed mindset will avoid tasks that present challenges to them. They would rather stick with what they are comfortable with.

Instead of doing that, throw yourself into the deep end. Even in situations where you’re not fully aware of what you need to do. I’m not saying do anything reckless, but rather be strategic with them.

Ask yourself if you could see yourself getting into that type of work or doing that project. If you have a passion for it, then you’re going to learn more about it; even though at the moment you don’t have the skills to handle the job well.

6. Have High Standards

Having high standards for ourselves has more weight than you can imagine. For some, it could be stressful, but I’d put those standards into something you are passionate about and want to get better at.

Take a study that focused on limits for example.[3] It focused on a group of cyclists who were told to bike as hard as possible for 4000m. Later on, those same participants were asked to do the same track and were given an avatar to race against.

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What the participants didn’t know about was the avatar was programmed to be faster than their previous time. What happened next was the cyclists either kept up with the avatar and some surpassed them.

What this means for us in setting higher standards is that when we place higher standards in ourselves, we’ll often reach out and strive to hit that standard or surpass it on instinct.

7. Rewire Your Mindset

Our mindsets are all based on what we believe and think. With this in mind, there are a number of things you can work on to rewire your mindset.

Some things to consider are:

  • Acknowledge your faults and look for ways to overcome them.
  • Look at challenges as opportunities.
  • Replace the word “failing” with “learning.”
  • Redefine “genius” too. Being a genius requires hard work. It’s not some unobtainable talent.
  • Seek criticism as positive too.

8. Don’t Look for Approval All the Time

This could also be considered as a way to be more independent when it comes to approval. When we place our efforts towards pleasing a person other than ourselves, we start to lose ourselves.

Instead of focusing on what others think, focus on your own learning and growth in the area.

9. Enjoy the Process over the Result

While the end results are great, that’s not the reason we pursue learning and growth. Yes, there are more perks, but the end results are fleeting and often, people who do something for the sake of end results find themselves stalled. They’re stuck and not sure what to do next.

Instead, when we value the process and find joy in putting the effort and learning, we begin to grow more that way.

10. Spend More Time in Reflection

Self-reflection

is an invaluable tool. It provides opportunities for us to ask ourselves questions. We can also use it as a means to rewire ourselves and to see things in a new light as well.

You can use the reflection time to learn and to process what you are learning.

11. Seek Expert Help

If you’re struggling in an area, sometimes you need someone more skilled in the field to show you the ropes. That’s self-improvement at its core.

Try these tips if you’re not used to asking for help: How to Ask for Help When You Feel Silly to Do So

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12. Abide By Brain Plasticity

It’s a fact that our brain isn’t fixed. It’s always making new pathways and is expanding in its own way. Our minds shouldn’t be fixed either.

13. View Improvement as Separate from Failure

We are quick to assume “room for improvement” is another way to say we failed or are a failure. That’s not the case at all.

Train yourself to see it for what it is: room for improvement and growth.

14. Start Saying “Yet” More

Or “not yet.” It’s a powerful phrase because it leaves room for growth. You have not yet reached where you want to be. Sounds powerful right?

15. Learning from Others’ Mistakes

There have been people over years and decades who have gone the same way you’re going now. Sure there may be differences and their journey took different turns, but you can still learn.

Don’t go and compare yourselves to them, but look at those stories to remind yourself that other people have the same weaknesses as you do.

Here’re 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On.

16. Always Be Setting Goals

Whenever you achieve a goal, focus on setting another goal. Getting into the habit that there are more mountains to climb and things to achieve stops us from asking the dreaded question:

“What’s next?”

That question stalls growth and you don’t need it. Avoid it by setting some more goals. More targets to work towards.

17. Think Realistically About Your Time And Effort

It takes time to learn and it takes time to put in effort. Some things will take longer to learn than others.

Be wary of that as some people think they’ll master something in one sitting. It doesn’t always work that way.

Final Thoughts

A growth mindset is limitless as there is always new information being put into the world. We may not be soaking up every bit of information, but having a strategy to grow in areas we care about can help us in our lives overall.

When we start to change the way we think, act, and learn, great things can be achieved.

More About Ever-Growing

Featured photo credit: Luke Carliff via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

How Long Does It Take to Learn a Language? Science Will Tell You Delegation of Authority: The Complete Guide for Effective Leaders How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips 12 Things High Self-Esteem People Don’t Do A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success

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Published on October 13, 2020

How to Unleash the 4 Types of Creativity In You

How to Unleash the 4 Types of Creativity In You

Human history has no shortage of brilliant minds: writers, musicians, inventors, entrepreneurs, and more. Not everyone chooses a creative career, but all of us could use the power of creativity to live brighter, more fulfilling, and more successful lives instead of going through the same motions day in, day out.

Could one become more creative?

A one-size-fits-all answer is hard to give because there are different types of creativity. Do you want to know the least useful type?

1. Least Useful Type of Creativity

It is “Ideation creativity”—the good old coming up with new ideas.

Surprised?

There exist techniques for producing more and better ideas: idea buckets, brainstorming games, and first principles thinking. Those are specialized creativity tools used by composers, novelists, and serial entrepreneurs—not so much by the remaining 99% of the population.

Do you still want this esoteric knowledge? Then go straight to the masters:

  • Josh Waitzkin, a U.S. Junior chess champion and later a World Champion in the martial art Tai Chi Chuan, has written an autobiography.[1]
  • Gianni Rodari, an Italian children’s book author famous for his Adventures of Cipollino, outlined his approach to teaching fantasy in an actual manual on the subject.[2]
  • Twyla Tharp, a celebrated American dancer and choreographer, wrote a book explaining her creative process. We will revisit this book in a moment.[3]

What Distinguishes Creative People (Aside From Their Ideas)?

Anyone can have interesting ideas—would it not be nice to build a flying car, create a musical about South American tribes, cold-email the French president, or ask to get hired as the next prime minister?

Just like yourself, billions of people are also touched by beautiful sunsets and would like to double their respective incomes—but this does not automatically make all of them artists or entrepreneurs.

Only those who have acted upon their ideas or emotions and produced tangible outcomes can be labeled “creative.” Mozart and Jane Austen became so famous because of their results—the symphonies and novels that they had respectively produced—not because of their ideas.

Creativity Does Not Require So-Called Inspiration

A related misconception is that masterpieces are created in “Eureka!” moments—extraordinary bursts of creativity and otherworldly inspiration.

The exclamation “Eureka!” refers to the apocryphal story about the ancient Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes who was taking a bath and stumbled upon a solution to a difficult problem he had been thinking about.

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But consider that Mozart composed over 600 musical works in his lifetime including 50 symphonies.[4] He would have needed thousands of “Eureka!” moments to produce such a staggering amount of world-class music, which is about one per week of his short career. This is clearly absurd—extraordinary moments of inspiration are rare by definition.

Acclaimed choreographer Twyla Tharp believes it was all hard work,[5]

Nobody worked harder than Mozart. By the time he was twenty-eight years old, his hands were deformed because of all the hours he had spent practicing, performing, and gripping a quill pen to compose. . . . As Mozart himself wrote to a friend, “People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times.”

Creativity can only be manifested during a creative process, whether it is trying a new dish in the kitchen, composing a new symphony, or figuring out how to help your child get into a good college. If you have never played a musical instrument, you are not going to suddenly produce a symphony after doing a creativity exercise.

This brings us to the most useful but underrated type of creativity:

2. “Kaizen”: Finding Ways to Improve a Process

What would be a non-creative approach to any activity? It would be doing the same thing every day in the same way.

Therefore, a creative approach would be constantly varying what you are doing and the way you are doing it. Sometimes, it means adding complexity, such as experimenting with sophisticated dishes for dinner to keep your family happy.

Other times, it means reducing complexity. When mass production was still in its infancy, engineers at the Ford Motor Company used a great deal of creativity to speed up the process:[6]

In the past a worker—and he had to be a skilled worker—had made a flywheel magneto from start to finish. A good employee could make thirty-five or forty a day. Now, however, there was an assembly line for magnetos. It was divided into twenty-nine different operations performed by twenty-nine different men. In the old system it took twenty minutes to make a magneto; now it took thirteen.

Ironically enough, a few decades later Japanese car manufacturers ended up overcoming the big American ones including the Ford Motor Company itself. The approach that made it possible is often translated as “kaizen” or never-ending incremental, continuous improvement.

Kaizen type of creativity entails continuous improvements in your process:

  • today you research a new dish to make for dinner,
  • tomorrow you try making it in less time,
  • the next day you try varying the ingredients,
  • the next day you discuss your recipe with others,
  • the next day you take a class on that same recipe,
  • the next day you research the nutritional properties of the ingredients.

This is the mindset of an aspiring world-class chef and by adopting it, you will become very creative in the kitchen indeed!

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3. Transformational Type of Creativity: Change Your Life

You may be arguing that it is all good for Mozart, Jane Austen, or Twyla Tharp to be creative because they were engaged in creative activities full-time.

How could one find creativity in an uninspiring job? How could one creatively spend leisure after-work time?

A piece of common advice is to “work on your goals,” but most of us do not have clear goals, let alone a specific life plan telling us exactly how to employ the time at our disposal.

The time-honored answer is, “if you do not like something about your life, figure out how to change it.” Goals or no goals, this is your life. Take responsibility for it because nobody else will.

This is where transformational creativity comes into the picture. Transformational creativity is not decorating the wall of your cubicle with cute cat stickers to make the job tolerable; it is taking an evening course so you can move to a more enjoyable line of work.

Transformational creativity is not throwing random ingredients into a pot hoping for a miracle; it is befriending a gourmet chef who can teach you some serious kitchen magic. Transformational creativity is not trying all ice cream flavors at a local parlor; it is making up your own flavor, or better yet, opening up your own ice cream shop!

Transformational creativity is taking intelligent steps towards the life that you want and away from the life that you do not want. If Kaizen creativity helps you move forward and keep growing, transformational creativity helps you change course.

How Can You Unleash Your Transformational Creativity?

Eliminate the obstacles.

The first obstacle is not knowing what you want in life. A solution is to set goals anyway.

Success expert and bestselling author Brian Tracy recommends setting 10 goals for the next year, but you can start from three: one financial goal, one relationship goal, one health goal:

Your goals may be unrealistic—say, to double your income, go on a date with a celebrity, or complete a marathon, all before the end of the year. This is fine. Eventually, you will learn how to set goals that are motivating and appropriate for you, but you have to start somewhere.

The second obstacle is not wanting your goals badly enough. The solution is to act as if you did.

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You may decide to write a novel and yet not feel creative or committed because there is no strong emotion underlying this decision. This is fine. Just keep writing, rain, or shine. Your emotions will catch up with you later.

Of course, if you can increase your level of motivation, by all means, do it! One aspiring entrepreneur unleashed creativity and eventually achieved great success after moving from cold and wet Chicago to the sunny Phoenix, Arizona.

Want to know the last type of creativity? It is special in that it offers a shortcut to success. Mozart used it too!

The fourth and last type is named after Dr. Watson, the colleague of the great detective invented by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

4. Dr. Watson’s Type of Creativity

Sherlock Holmes himself commended his friend and ally Dr. Watson for exhibiting this type of creativity:

It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it. I confess, my dear fellow, that I am very much in your debt.[7]

Even if you are not particularly creative yourself, you may be able to do great things by partnering up with someone vastly more experienced and insightful. At the same time, a close association with an accomplished master is one of the best-known ways to cultivate your own creativity—all types of it.

This association can take various forms:

  • a formal mentorship that you are paying for
  • an unstructured mentorship relationship combined with a friendship or a marriage
  • an Executive Assistant-type job that you are paid for
  • an apprenticeship whereas you work on your mentor’s projects without monetary compensation

How Can You Convince a Master to Let You Be Their Dr. Watson?

The single most important quality of Dr. Watson is that he executes on Sherlock Holmes’ ideas, sometimes even risking his own life in the process. It is only through immersing himself in the execution that he can come up with insights which—even if wrong —manage to stimulate Holmes’ powerful imagination.

A second equally important quality of Dr. Watson is that he accepts the overall approach as well as the daily mode of operation set by Holmes and does not question them, except in extreme circumstances.

A little humility and an exemplary work ethic go a long way, but you still need to ask for what you want. If you found a potential mentor online and were able to connect with them, how could you phrase your request?

Here are excerpts from messages sent to a potential mentor by an aspiring mentee that actually worked:

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  • Nothing short of an honor to be connected with you.
  • Is there any way I can work with you, [Dr. such-and-such]? It would be nothing less than an achievement.
  • I wouldn’t need any money. To be associated with you is a dream I hope I can achieve. Is it possible for you to lay down some guidelines for me, which if I follow, I’ll get to work under you?
  • I will follow all the guidelines and directions you provide, if you do. I can be your first apprentice in [city Y or country Z].
  • I will follow all your directions, guidelines. I want to be under your guidance. Please accept my proposal.

Believe in yourself. Napoleon Hill relates the striking story of Edwin Barnes who wanted to become a business partner of the great inventor Thomas Edison—and he eventually did! He had no money or education; his only advantage was his burning desire combined with persistence.

The book Think and Grow Rich is an absolute gem informed by conversations with some of the most successful entrepreneurs of the day, including Andrew Carnegie himself, with lessons in creativity sprinkled on every page!

Parting Words

The power of creativity to change your life for the better is undeniable.

Ideation creativity is the most overrated type: unless and until you specifically decide to become an artist, a book author, an inventor, or someone similar, it is irrelevant.

The most practical type of creativity is Kaizen, finding ways to continuously improve a process. Specific advice can be found in countless books on forming better habits including Leon Ho’s 74 Healthy Habits That Will Drastically Improve Every Aspect Of Your Life. So long as you have a process that you keep improving from time to time, you are on the right track.

Transformational creativity can change your life, though it does require courage, ingenuity, and most of all, persistence. Just keep making one little change at a time and your life will unfold like a piece of art. Even if you feel no motivation whatsoever, it is fine. Creativity is a state of mind and can override your emotions.

Perhaps the most empowering type is Dr. Watson’s creativity, which entails aligning yourself with a master whom you can learn from. Here, the sky is the limit. but you do have to give—sometimes a lot—to be able to benefit as greatly as Dr. Watson did from his association with Sherlock Holmes.

Pick one type of creativity that you want to develop and discuss it with a friend. And remember the words of the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu:

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

More on Thinking Creatively

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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