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Published on January 30, 2020

7 Growth Mindset Activities To Build Your Mindset

7 Growth Mindset Activities To Build Your Mindset

Ever since Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, has been published in 2007, “the growth mindset” has been a buzzword. I’ve already talked about its power in the past. How it can be the key to deeper learning, and growth in many areas of your life.

And there have plenty of studies that have continued to explore the growth mindset.[1] But one thing that I haven’t touched on yet is that while we can be fostering a growth mindset, Dweck makes an important note:

“The path to a growth mindset is a journey, not a proclamation.”

What this means is not only should we be creating an environment, but indulge in growth mindset activities. Activities that can help us develop ourselves further and enjoy the process.

What Is a Growth Mindset?

For the uninitiated, a growth mindset is a mindset coined by Carol Dweck, Dweck talks about two mindsets: fixed mindset and growth mindset.

Based on her research, Dweck came to realize that whether a child would succeed or fail boiled down to their mindset. She realized that those who were encouraged to learn more had a different attitude and behaviour about everything in life compared to others.

For example, one student would see challenges as opportunities to grow while others would give up after they failed the first time. She attributed these behaviors to the two mindsets I mentioned above.

But though Dweck’s research covered children, adults aren’t that different. We are after all a more mature version of our habits as children in some cases.

For example, look at our own goals in life. Are you someone who doesn’t set them or gives up after you failed? Chances are you have a fixed mindset which suggests that everything you do is based on your current skills. You also – in all likelihood – have stopped learning about your industry or growing your skills.

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Unless you have a growth mindset.

7 Growth Mindset Activities To Try

So if you are looking to be growing yourself, it’s important to develop your mindset. One such way is through growth mindset activities. Even though it’s best to learn and use these at a younger age, we can still change our ways as we grow older. As the saying goes,

“The best time to grow a tree was ten years ago. The second best time to grow one is right now.”

With that in mind, here are some growth mindset activities you can try out.

1. Self Exploration

If it’s not clear already, our current mindset influences how we shape our future moving forward. If we have a fixed mindset, chances are likely that we’ll be stuck in the same position we are in right now.

So one thing that we can do to change that is doing some growth mindset activities that encourage us to change. One such activity is self-exploration. This means diving into your mindset and start making changes to that mindset.

To help with that, I suggest watching the video ‘Lost Generation’. It’s a two-minute video, but the idea is to get others to watch the video, and for you and the others to discuss what they found about this video.

The idea of the discussions is to touch on how the future changes based on the attitude we adopt today. You want to end this experiment with the question: What happens when we change our mindsets?

If you can’t do this in a group or with someone else, you can still gain some benefits by asking about how you felt about the video.

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Here’s the video:

2. Identify Everday Mindset Examples

A fixed mindset and growth mindset don’t just show up in learning environments but everyday life too. Out of the several growth mindset activities out there, this one brings our attitudes to the forefront. How it does that is that we are looking at the behavior and presenting examples.

To do this activity, take several sheets of paper and an assortment of colored pens. If you’re doing this by yourself, then you could type these out.

After that, write down examples of how each mindset can be applied in everyday life. These can be phrases that each mindset uses, their opinions to subjects like challenges, failure, and roadblocks, how they handle adversity, and so on.

To do this activity properly, you will need to have a general description of both of these mindsets. It also pays to do this in a group as the idea is to write these out and then discuss why you think this way.

3. Take Action

One of the simplest growth mindset activities out there is to do it. Starting something new, whether it’s learning something or building a habit, is the toughest part. If you have a fixed mindset, there are good odds that you’re not eager to step out of that comfort zone.

If you want to develop a growth mindset, you’ll need to change your attitude and start doing more. This isn’t just focusing on stuff you’re passionate about. It’s also about exploring new passions. This means trying things you wouldn’t have thought of.

4. Self-Reflection

Similar to self-exploration, self-reflection is also important. Self-reflection is one of the growth mindset activities that looks at your external self rather than internal. It’ll focus on your skills that you’ve built and how you were able to develop them.

Regardless of the mindset you have right now, reflecting this way can piece together many things. For one, it helps us to realize that when we first started something, we weren’t good at it. And over time, we got used to it.

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A great example is the work that you’re doing today. Think back to your first day at work. What was it like? Did you show up being able to move through a routine and have a solid workflow for the entire day? Or did you have to experiment and figure out what you were good at and what you needed some guidance with?

When you take up a new skill, make sure to reflect on your progress too. Keep a record of your changes.

5. Research Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is the study of our brain and how it adapts to the environments, actions and experiences we go through life.[2] What this research uncovered was the fact that how we thought of brains before was all wrong.

For a long time, we though our brain was a “non-renewable” organ. We never thought our brain could form other neurons on its own, let alone be able to grow and be shaped however we like.

What decades of research have uncovered is that, regardless of our age, we can grow and learn new things. After all, our brain contains many circuits and pathways.

What this means in simple terms is that, these pathways allow our brain to push us through a sequence of steps. The more we go through those steps, the more our brain builds up that pathway. It eventually forms a circuit that allows us to perform that task with more skill and speed than before.

Being aware of neuroplasticity and how it can impact our lives is key to our growth.

6. Actively Look for Opportunities to Learn

Better yet, to look for learning opportunities that you think you don’t fit in for. This can be within your own industry or outside of it.

Whatever the case is, taking up something you are hesitant towards can build you up. The biggest reason for that is it teaches you to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It also teaches you about how your attitude matters.

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Again, someone with a fixed mindset would hesitate and give up when things get tough. Someone with a growth mindset will push forward in their own way.

By no means will learning a little about a subject or practicing a skill will make you a professional in that area. But it will bring you one step closer to being knowledgable and good in that area. That can be the confidence you need to do this more and apply it to your life.

7. Develop Grit

Grit is what defines your perseverance to meet the goals that you set. It’s the effort that you’ll put into your work and your willingness to overcome obstacles and keep moving.

Developing grit comes down to finding something that you are interested in or have a passion for and continue to improve it. Another way to see it is that through hard and necessary work, you can develop, improve, and succeed in that area over time.

To develop grit is to surround yourself with those who have grit as well. Find the people who stick to their goals and work closely with them. Being with those who show up every day will ensure you become like them in time.

Dr. Angela Duckworth’s book Grit is a good read to help you develop grit.

Final Thoughts

The list of growth mindset activities is abundant. Out of them all, there is no superior method to develop a growth mindset. The key is to find the methods that work best for you.

So adopt the attitude to experiment and see what you like. After all, trying these growth mindset activities will develop your mindset to begin with.

More to Train Your Brain

Featured photo credit: Eris Setiawan via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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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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