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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

Delegating Work: What to Delegate and What Not to? How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1 7 Ways to Improve Your Management Leadership Skills The Importance of Delegating Leadership (And How to Properly Delegate) Why You Need Spirituality Goals To Enhance Your Life

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Published on May 26, 2020

7 Most Effective Problem Solving Techniques That Smart People Use

7 Most Effective Problem Solving Techniques That Smart People Use

Problems are, by their very nature, problematic. There are life problems, work problems, creative problems, and relationship problems. When we’re lucky, intuition takes over, and we solve a problem right away. When we’re not so lucky, we get stuck.

We might spend weeks or even months obsessing over how to write that term paper, get out of debt, or win back the love of our life. But instead of obsessing, let’s look at some effective problem solving techniques that people in the know rely on.

Ideation Vs Evaluation

It’s important to first understand and separate two stages of creativity before we look at effective problem solving techniques. Ideation is like brainstorming. It’s the stage of creativity where we’re looking for as many possible solutions as we can think of. There’s no judgment or evaluation of ideas at this stage. More is more.

After we’ve come up with as many solutions as possible, only then can we move onto the evaluation stage. This is when we analyze each possible solution and think about what works and what doesn’t. Here’s when all those good ideas from ideation rise to the top and the outlandish and impractical ones are abandoned.

7 Problem Solving Techniques That Work

Everyone has different ways of solving problems. Some are more creative, some are more organized. Some prefer to work on problems alone, others with a group. Check out the problem solving techniques below and find one that works for you.

1. Lean on Your Squad

The first of our seven problem solving techniques is to surround yourself with people you trust. Sometimes problems can be solved alone, but other times, you need some help.

There’s a concept called emergence that begins to explain why groups may be better for certain kinds of problem solving. Steven Johnson describes emergence as bottom up system organization.[1] My favorite example is an ant colony. Ants don’t have a president or boss telling them what to do. Instead, the complicated organization of the ant colony comes out of each individual ant just fulfilling their biological destiny.

Group creativity can also take on an emergent quality. When individuals really listen to, support, and add onto each other’s ideas, the sum of that group creativity can be much more than what any individual could have created on their own.

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Therefore, if you are struggling to solve a problem, you may want to find a group of people with whom you can collaborate, so you can start riffing with them about possible solutions.

2. Regulate Your Emotions

The next of the problem solving techniques is to be honest about how you’re feeling. We can’t solve problems as efficiently when we’re stressed out or upset, so starting with some emotional self-awareness goes a long way in helping us problem solve.

Dr. Daniel Siegel famously tells us to “Name it to tame it.” [2] He’s talking about naming our feelings, which offers us a better chance of regulating ourselves. I have to know that I’m stressed or upset if I want to calm down quickly in order to get back to a more optimal problem-solving state.

After you know how you’re feeling, you can take steps to regulate that feeling. If you’re feeling stressed out or upset, you can take a walk or try breathing exercises. Mindfulness exercises can also help you regain your sense of presence.

3. Listen

One thing that good problem solvers do is listen. They collect all the information they can and process it carefully before even attempting to solve the problem.

It’s tempting to jump right in and start problem solving before the scope of the problem is clear. But that’s a mistake.

Smart problem solvers listen carefully in order to get as many points of view and perspectives as possible. This allows them to gain a better understanding of the problem, which gives them a huge advantage in solving that problem.

4. Don’t Label Ideas as Bad…Yet

The fourth of the seven problem solving techniques is to gather as many possible solutions as you can. There are no bad ideas…yet.

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Think back to the two stages of creativity. When we are in the ideation stage, we shouldn’t be evaluating each other’s ideas, input, and possible solutions.

When we evaluate, judge, and criticize during the ideation stage, we inadvertently hamper creativity. One possible outcome of evaluating during ideation is creative suppression.[3]

When someone responds to someone else’s creative input with judgment or criticism, creative suppression can occur if the person who had the idea shuts down because of that judgment or criticism.

Imagine you’re at a meeting brainstorming ways to boost your sales numbers. You suggest hiring a new team member, but your colleague rolls their eyes and says that can’t happen since the numbers are already down.

Now, your colleague may be 100% correct. However, their comment might make you shut down for the rest of the meeting, which means your team won’t be getting any more possible solutions from you.

If your colleague had waited to evaluate the merits of your idea until after the brainstorming session, your team could have come up with more possible solutions to their current problem.

During the ideation stage, more is more. We want as many ideas as possible, so reserve the evaluation until there’s no more ideating left to do.

Another trick for better ideating is to “Yes And” each other’s ideas[4] In improvisation, there’s a principle known as “Yes And.” It means that one improviser should agree with the other’s idea for the scene and then add a new detail onto that reality.

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For example, if someone says, “I can’t hear over your loud music,” the other person needs to go along with that idea and then add onto it. They might say, “Sorry, I’ll turn it down, but I don’t think everyone else here at the club will appreciate it.”

Now the scene is getting interesting. We’re in a club, and the DJ is going to turn the music down. Playing “Yes And” with each other made the scene better by filling in details about who and where the improvisers are.

Yes Anding also works well during ideation sessions. Since we’ve already established that we shouldn’t be evaluating each other’s ideas yet, Yes Anding gives us something we can do. We can see the merits of each other’s ideas and try to build on them. This will make all of our possible solutions more fully realized than a simple laundry list.

5. Approach Problems With Playfulness

Approaching problem solving too seriously can exacerbate the problem. Sometimes we get too fixated on finding solutions and lose a sense of playfulness and fun.

It makes sense. When there are deadlines and people counting on us, we can try to force solutions, but stepping back and approaching problems from a more playful perspective can lead to more innovative solutions.

Think about how children approach problem solving. They don’t have the wealth of wisdom that decades on this planet give. Instead, they play around and try out imaginative and sometimes unpractical approaches.

That’s great for problem solving. Instead of limiting ourselves to how things have always been done, a sense of play and playfulness can lead us to truly innovative, out-of-the-box solutions.

6. Let the Unconscious Mind Roam

This may seem counterintuitive, but another technique to try when you become too fixated on a problem is to take a break to let the unconscious mind take over for a bit.

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Our conscious brain can only handle a limited amount of information at a time. Plus, it’s energetically exhausting to use our conscious brain for problem solving. Think about a time when you were studying for a test. It’s draining.[5]

But we’re in luck. There’s another part of our brain that isn’t draining and can integrate tons more information at a time—our unconscious.

This is why you come up with your best ideas in the shower or on your way to work or while you’re jogging. When you give your conscious brain a break, your unconscious has a chance to sift through mounds of information to arrive at solutions.

It’s how I write my articles. With my conscious brain, I think about which article I’m going to write. My problem is how to write it, so once I think carefully about the topic, I take a break. Then, the structure, sources, content, and sometimes phrasing happens in fits and starts while I’m not thinking about the article at all. It happens when I’m lying in bed, showering, and walking in the woods.

The key is to get in the habit of practicing this alternation between conscious and unconscious problem solving and to absolutely not force solutions. Sometimes, you just need to take a little break.

7. Be Candid

The last of the problem solving techniques happens during the evaluation stage. If we’re going to land on the best possible solution to our problems, we have to be able to openly and honestly evaluate ideas.

During the evaluating stage, criticism and feedback need to be delivered honestly and respectfully. If an idea doesn’t work, that needs to be made clear. The goal is that everyone should care about and challenge each other. This creates an environment where people take risks and collaborate because they trust that everyone has their best interest in mind and isn’t going to pull any punches.

Final Thoughts

In order to come up with the best solutions for problems, ideation and evaluation have to be two distinct steps in the creative process. Then, you should tap into some of the above techniques to get your ideas organized and your problems solved.

Hopefully, these seven problem solving techniques will help your problems be less…problematic.

More Tips for Problem Solving

Featured photo credit: Daria Nepriakhina via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Steven Johnson: Emergence
[2] Dr. Dan Siegel: The whole-brain child
[3] American Psychological Association: Creative mortification
[4] Play Your Way Sane: And What?: Yes And
[5] Daniel Kahneman: Thinking, Fast and Slow

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