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.
Table of Contents
What Is a Growth Mindset?
A growth mindset, according to Lexia Learning is like this:
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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
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
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.
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:
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.
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
- 42 Practical Ways To Improve Yourself
- How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You
- How to Develop a Lifelong Learning Habit
Featured photo credit: Luke Carliff via unsplash.com