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Last Updated on February 9, 2021

7 Growth Mindset Dos And Don’ts

7 Growth Mindset Dos And Don’ts

When it comes to the mind, there is so much the average individual doesn’t know. Take the idea of a growth mindset, for example.

Many believe that our own abilities and our intelligence remained fixed after some point in time. Some think this happens at birth, while others may think it’s after college or university.

The reality, however, is that our minds are constantly growing and adapting. How much depends entirely on our view of intelligence and learning.

These ideas came surfaced when Stanford University’s Carol Dweck researched the subject. In her book on the matter, she talks about these notions and also about a solution to the issues of mental stagnation.

That solution is the growth mindset.

I’ve shared information about this before, but for this post, I want to explain some dos and don’ts of nurturing a growth mindset.

After all, one does not simply follow one trail and begin to grow. There are various traps along the way — namely, the false growth mindset.

What Is the False Growth Mindset?

At the start of her research, there were two mindsets that Carol Dweck stumbled upon. These mindsets were the growth mindset and the fixed mindset.

How you determined which mindset you fell into was based on how you faced your failures and challenges.

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All of these ideas are explored by Dweck through her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. [1]

However, the question of where this false growth mindset comes from was where Dweck returned to in order to further explore this topic.

In 2016, she uncovered something called the false growth mindset. In her words, a false growth mindset is:

“…saying you have a growth mindset when you don’t really have it or you don’t really understand [what it is]. It’s also false in the sense that nobody has a growth mindset in everything all the time.” – Carol Dweck [2]

Dweck expands:

“Everyone is a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets. You could have a predominant growth mindset in an area but there can still be things that trigger you into a fixed mindset trait… So I think we all, students and adults, have to look for our fixed-mindset triggers and understand when we are falling into that mindset.” [3]

It can be easy to assume you have a growth mindset, simply because you are aware of the concept, but that does not mean you will not stumble along your journey of growth.

Why Is It so Bad?

We can break the problem down into three simple points:

  • First, if you have a false growth mindset, it means you don’t have a grasp of the area you’re trying to improve upon. This, in turn, leads to distorted applications of the growth mindset.
  • Second, improper use of a growth mindset can lead to undeserved praise. Praising someone despite a failure only makes the problems worse, as it’s processed as a consolation prize rather than a reward.
  • Finally, while a growth mindset will encourage us to learn, any other mindset can distort our view of learning. Many fixed mindset individuals don’t bother studying further and improving skills. The same can be true for those with a false growth mindset.

Dos and Don’ts of a Growth Mindset

Fortunately, there are remedies to a false growth mindset. Here are some key dos and don’ts that you can use to ensure that you are developing the proper mindset.

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1. Do Change How You Praise

Whether it’s to yourself or to someone else, how you phrase praise matters to how others interpret it.

One of the key differences between those with fixed mindsets and growth mindsets is how they’ve been praised.

How you can get a true growth mindset over a false one depends on how you word your praise. So, to help you with praise phrasing, here is a chart that touches on person- and process-praise.[4]

    The key is to focus on praising the process that leads to the outcome. This is a different approach than praising only the outcome or the effort that was put into it.

    This prevents you from a false growth mindset, as most teachers who adopt the false method will focus on praising exclusively effort.

    2. Do Emphasize Learning Goals

    Learning goals are the goals that spark curiosity and push someone forward. You can say these goals are all effort-based, as they require more action.

    The action part is important because learning isn’t all about hitting a certain test score or grade in a class. Learning goals focus on understanding the topic for the sake of it in order to complete a task.

    For this reason, you want to avoid performance-based goals like getting a certain score or achieving a specific grade.

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    Of course, we all want to pass, and that’s important, but our focus should be on learning more so than on hitting a specific number.

    3. Don’t Praise Effortless Achievement

    What I mean by this is don’t focus so much on finishing something as quickly as possible. Nor should you dish out praise if something is passed to you in record time.

    If something is obtained without so much as breaking a sweat or learning anything, then it wasn’t time well spent. In those situations, it’s worth looking back at your goals or moving on to something else.

    4. Do Attribute Success to Effort

    While we should be avoiding some effort-based praise, the fact still stands that you need to put in the effort to succeed. If you’re not working hard and smart, then you aren’t going to be able to solve your problems.

    With this in mind, be sure to incorporate strategies, plans, and setting strong goals that will bring you to your version of success.

    5. Don’t Label Yourself or Others as “Smart”

    Yes, people can be intelligent, but there isn’t a need to bring that up. The word “smart” suggests that you or the other person has an innate ability of higher intelligence.

    And while our innate abilities do matter, a lot of us overestimate how important they are on a general scale or in specific subjects.

    Remember that many people stop actively learning once they have a degree. In other words, most people attribute their intelligence to this degree and feel there isn’t a need to learn more, even if that degree was obtained years ago.

    Industries evolve and change every day, and what we learned as recently as two or three years ago may not be relevant today.

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    6. Do Accept Mistakes

    Mistakes are part of the process and are needed for us to grow. Again, Dweck’s conclusions stemmed from student’s reactions to problems and mistakes that they made.

    It’s an important criterion and ingredient to determine our mindsets.

    As such, if we want to develop a true growth mindset, we want to embrace our mistakes.

    7. Make Mistakes Part of the Learning Model

    Not only should we accept mistakes, we should also incorporate them into the learning process. You don’t need to be in a school atmosphere to apply this. Some prime examples are at work.

    Say, for instance, that the company brought in a new machine or is introducing new concepts or roles that you’re struggling with. Instead of grumbling about it, take a step back and highlight the specific problems that you have.

    From there, go and look for help. This can be within your own office, or you can turn to the Internet.

    A Growth Mindset Is Within Your Reach

    Now that you have a more refined grasp on the topic, I hope that you understand why it’s so important to ensure you have the right mindset.

    There is more to a growth mindset than understanding a simple explanation or approaching failures and mistakes differently.

    While those are important, you can see already there is more at work here. A growth mindset is well within anyone’s grasp should they devote more time to practicing it the right way.

    More About the Growth Mindset

    Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Indie Bound: Mindset Paperback
    [2] The Atlantic: How Praise Became a Consolation Prize
    [3] The Atlantic: How Praise Became a Consolation Prize
    [4] MindsetKit: Do’s and don’ts of praise

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    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Published on April 14, 2021

    8 Surefire Problem-Solving Strategies That Always Work

    8 Surefire Problem-Solving Strategies That Always Work

    Whether you’re dealing with a creative block on a personal project or you’re facing challenges in the workplace, finding sustainable solutions to problems is an integral part of personal and professional growth. As the British-Australian philosopher Karl Popper once said, “all life is problem-solving.”

    As important as problem-solving is to success, not all approaches are created equal. The best problem-solving strategies ensure both efficiency (finding a solution as quickly as possible, with the minimum number of barriers) and effectiveness (finding a solution that actually solves the problem long-term).

    To accomplish both, you may need to try out some new ways of seeing and handling challenges. Here are 8 surefire problem-solving strategies that work, no matter what you’re struggling with.

    1. Break It Down Into Smaller Pieces

    Staring down a big problem can feel overwhelming, especially when the stakes are high. That sense of overwhelm doesn’t just cause you to feel on edge, but it also compromises your ability to work effectively. Studies show when the stress response is active, the part of the brain required for problem-solving tasks essentially shuts down.[1]

    To ease that stress and enlist the much-needed logical part of your brain, try breaking the problem down into smaller, individual issues you feel more confident tackling. For example, if you’ve missed your revenue goal two quarters in a row, try to resist framing the problem as “we’re losing money.”

    Instead, identify the individual problems contributing to the larger one—for example, marketing, supply chain, or communication issues that may be at play. Then, work—slowly but surely—to overcome barriers in each area, ideally, in order of importance. Not only will you feel less stressed in the process (which leads to smarter decision-making), but you’ll also feel more motivated to press on as you gain a sense of accomplishment, one step at a time.[2]

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    2. Ask Someone Else for Input

    I remember it clearly: I was sitting in my office, staring at the computer screen, trying to figure out where I went wrong in a line of code. Two hours in, and I wasn’t any closer to figuring out where I’d messed up (and, more importantly, how to fix it). Then, a colleague I’d planned to have lunch with came in. Almost instantaneously, she looked over my shoulder and saw the issue. I had to laugh—she hadn’t even been working on this project with me, but her fresh set of eyes solved my problem.

    One of the most effective ways to reach a solution, faster? Don’t rely only on your own mind for an “aha” moment. Involving people who see the world differently than you—ideally, someone with a different skillset or from a different department—to chime in will help you more easily and quickly find the right approach.

    3. Understand the Root Cause

    Albert Einstein famously said, “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.”

    It sounds like common sense, but it bears repeating—you can’t solve a problem unless you know what the issue actually is. Before you start mapping out potential solutions, ask yourself, “why did this problem occur in the first place?”

    For example, imagine one department in your business is consistently not meeting its goals. That’s certainly a problem, but it may not be the problem. When you dig a little deeper, you might find a need for better communication or more training.

    Ensuring you have a deep and accurate understanding of what’s causing the problem will save you time working toward a solution and prevent you from having to backtrack to find a better one.[3]

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    4. Define Success

    One of the most important things I’ve learned as an entrepreneur: start with a clear vision of success. Before I launched my business, I envisioned what people’s lives would be like if my product succeeded. I try to follow the same approach when I’m tackling challenges.

    Begin the problem-solving process with a clear understanding of what “success” would look like when the problem is solved. How will your company and team function if this problem isn’t an issue anymore?

    Once you see how you want things to be, you can work backward to find practical ways to achieve that vision. For example, if you’re consistently frustrated by low morale among your employees, imagine what a motivated, positive team would look like in everyday operations. What do you want to achieve, and how would it change the course of your business?

    By picturing your ideal situation, you can more easily pinpoint the steps you need to take to make it happen—in this case, perhaps implementing team-building events, more paid vacation, and incentives for reaching goals.

    5. Try Silent Brainstorming

    Enlisting other people’s perspectives can be a good way to find the answer you’re looking for. But if you’re attempting to tackle a problem with others, keep in mind the dynamic of the group.

    Think back to your last Zoom or in-person meeting. Whose ideas do you end up hearing or applying most often? If I kept a running tab, I’d guess my most outgoing, assertive team members “win” these brainstorming sessions most often—simply because they’re not afraid to speak up.

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    If you’re hitting a wall in problem-solving, you’ll need to find a way to hear everyone’s voice. One way to do that is a silent brainstorming session. Invite team members to spend a designated amount of time coming up with solutions for the same problem. Then, have them share their approaches and ideas in front of the group, or individually with you.

    When everybody has a chance to contribute equally—without the distraction of a lively discussion—you’ll be more likely to develop an effective problem-solving strategy and find the answer you’ve been looking for.

    6. Imagine Someone Else’s Perspective

    Can’t get a group together but feeling like you need someone else’s brain to solve the problem you’re struggling with? One of my favorite problem-solving strategies is to use someone else’s perspective to see all sides of a problem and potential solutions.

    As you brainstorm, imagine you’re sitting at a table with different personality types and thinkers—for example, a critic, an optimist, an artist, and a data analyst. You can think of real people you know and imagine how they’d respond to the problem, or you can simply imagine people who think differently than you.

    The idea is that by using your own creativity to adopt different perspectives on the same issue, you can more quickly reach an effective solution.

    7. Decide What Won’t Work

    Process of elimination can be a helpful tool when you’re trying to figure out how to overcome a challenge—mostly so you don’t waste time “reinventing the wheel.”

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    Next time you come up against a problem at work, ask yourself (or someone else) if you or anyone else in the organization have encountered similar issues in the past. If so, what are the solutions people tried, and more importantly, did they work? If not, cross it off the list and keep brainstorming.

    If the past solutions proved to be effective, then ask yourself one more question: “Do I have the resources to apply this solution in my current situation?” If the answer is “yes,” then you have a resource at hand—and you just saved yourself some time.[4]

    8. Take Breaks

    It might sound counterproductive to step away from a problem you’re trying to solve, but doing so can actually save you time and help you develop an even better solution.

    Sometimes called the “wanderer technique,” taking breaks has long been shown in research to boost creativity and attention span.

    When you’re focused on (and stressed about) a problem, your brain can grow fatigued, which prevents you from finding innovative ways to deal with the issue. On the other hand, when you step away and think about or do something else, your brain can wander. Given some stress-free time with your unconscious mind, you can make connections you wouldn’t have if you were staring at a screen or notebook.[5]

    Final Thoughts

    As common as it is to encounter challenges at work and in life, it can be frustrating to spend time finding solutions, especially if you’re not sure if the solutions will be effective. By approaching your problem-solving with a bit of strategy and intention, you can both save time and find better solutions. It’s a win-win!

    Just follow these 8 surefire problem-solving strategies and you’ll have higher chances of overcoming obstacles in your journey to success.

    More Problem-Solving Strategies for Overcoming Challenges

    Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

    Reference

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