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Published on February 27, 2020

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 July 7, 2020

    Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

    Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

    Exercise isn’t just for your body. Just as important is keeping your mind strong by training your brain with fun mental workouts.

    Think of your mental and physical fitness the same way: you don’t need to be an Olympian, but you do need to stay in shape if you want to live well. A few cognitive workouts per week can make a major difference in your life.

    The Skinny on Mental Workouts

    Physical fitness boosts your stamina and increases your muscular strength. The benefits of working up a mental sweat and brain training, however, might not be so obvious.

    Research suggests that cognitive training has short- and long-term benefits, including:

    1. Improved Memory

    After eight weeks of cognitive training, 19 arithmetic students showed a larger and more active hippocampus than their peers.[1] The hippocampus is associated with learning and memory.

    2. Reduced Stress Levels

    Mastering new tasks more quickly makes the work of learning less stressful. A stronger memory can call information to mind with less effort.

    3. Improved Work Performance

    Learning quickly and remembering key details can lead to a better career. Employers are increasingly hiring for soft skills, such as trainability and attention to detail.

    4. Delayed Cognitive Decline

    As we age, we experience cognitive decline. A study published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that 10 one-hour sessions of cognitive training boosted reasoning and information processing speed in adults between the ages of 65 and 94.[2]

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    Just like in physical exercise, what’s important isn’t the specific workout. To be sustainable, cognitive workouts need to be easy and fun. Otherwise, it’s too easy to throw in the towel.

    Fun Brain Training Exercises for Everyone

    The best about fun mental workouts? There’s no need to head to a gym. Feel free to mix and match the following activities for daily brain training:

    1. Brainstorming

    One of the simplest, easiest ways to engage your brain? Coming up with solutions to a challenge you’re facing.

    If you aren’t good at solo ideation, ask a partner to join you. When I’m struggling to come up with topics to write about, I call up my editors to bat ideas around. Friends or co-workers are usually happy to help.

    2. Dancing

    Isn’t dancing a physical workout? Yes, but the coordination it requires is also great for training your brain. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

    Studies suggest that dance boosts multiple cognitive skills.[3] Planning, memorizing, organizing, and creativity all seem to benefit from a few fancy steps.

    3. Learning a New Language

    Learning a new language takes time. But if you split it up into small, daily lessons, it’s easier than you might think.

    With language learning, every lesson builds on the last. When I was learning Spanish, I used a tool called Guru for knowledge management.[4] Every time I’d learn a verb tense, I’d create a new card to give me a quick refresh before moving on.

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    4. Developing a Hobby

    Like languages, hobbies take time to develop. But that’s the fun of them: you get a little better—both at the hobby and in terms of brain function—each time you do them.

    If you’re trying to train your brain and improve a certain cognitive skill, choose a hobby that aligns with it.

    For example:

    • Attention to detail: Pick a hobby that requires you to work patiently with small features. Woodworking, model-building, sketching, and painting are all good choices.
    • Learning and memory: Choose an activity that requires you to remember lots of details. Your best bets are hobbies that require lots of categorization, such as collecting stamps or coins.
    • Motor function: For this brain function, physical activities can double as fun mental workouts. Sports like soccer and basketball build gross motor functions. Fine motor functions are better trained through activities like table tennis or even playing video games.
    • Problem-solving: Most hobbies require you to problem-solve in one way or another. The ones that test your problem-solving skills the most, however, take some investigation.

    Geocaching is a good example: Using a combination of clues and GPS readings, geocaching involves finding and re-hiding containers. Typically done in a wooded area, geocaching is a fun way to put your problem-solving skills to the test.

    5. Board Games

    Playing a board game might not be much of a physical workout, but it does make for a fun mental workout. With that said, not all board games work equally well for cognitive training.

    Avoid “no brainer” board games, like Candy Land. Opt for strategy-focused ones, such as Risk or Settlers of Catan. Remember to ask other players for their input.

    6. Card Games

    Card games build cognitive skills in much the same way board games do. They have a few extra advantages, though, that make them worthy of special attention.

    A deck of cards is inexpensive and can be played anywhere, from a kitchen to an airplane. More importantly, a deck of cards opens the door to dozens of different games. Challenge yourself to learn a few in an afternoon.

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    7. Puzzles

    Puzzles are great tools for building a specific cognitive skill: visuospatial function. Visuospatial function is important to train because it’s one of the first abilities to slip in people struggling with cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s.[5]

    Choose a puzzle you’ll stick with. There’s no shame in starting with a 500-piece puzzle or choosing one that makes a childish image.

    8. Playing Music

    Listening to music is a great way to unwind. But playing music goes one step further. On top of entertaining you, it makes for a fun mental workout.

    Again, choose an instrument you know you’ll stick with. If you’ve always wanted to learn the violin, don’t get a guitar because it’s less expensive or easier to pick up.

    What if you can’t afford an instrument? Sing. Learning to control your voice is every bit as challenging as making a set of keys or strings sound good.

    9. Meditating

    Not all cognitive exercises are loud, in-your-face activities. Some of the most fun mental workouts, in fact, are quiet, solo activities. Meditating can help you focus, especially if you have pre-existing attention issues.

    Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never meditated before. It’s easy:

    • Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
    • Set a timer for 10 minutes, or for however long you have to meditate.
    • Close your eyes or turn off the lights.
    • Focus on your breathing. Do not try to control it.
    • If your thoughts wander, gently bring them back to your breath.
    • When the timer goes off, wiggle your fingers and toes for a minute. Slowly bring yourself back to reality. Remember the sense of serenity you found.

    10. Deep Conversation

    There’s nothing more mentally stimulating than a good, long conversation. The key is depth: surface-level chatter doesn’t get the mind’s wheels spinning like a thoughtful, authentic conversation. This type of conversation helps in training your brain to think more deeply and reflect.

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    Choose your partner carefully. You’re looking for someone who’ll challenge your ideas without being confrontational. Stress isn’t good for brain health, but there’s value in coming up with creative arguments.

    11. Cooking

    When you think about it, cooking requires an impressive array of cognitive skills. Developing a cook’s intuition requires a good memory. Making sure flavors are balanced takes attention to detail. When something goes wrong in the kitchen, problem-solving skills come into play. Motor control is required to stir, flip, and whisk.

    If you’re going to cook, you might as well make enough for everyone. Invite them into the kitchen as well: coordinating with other chefs adds an extra layer of challenge to this fun mental workout.

    12. Mentorship

    Whether you’re the mentee or the mentor, mentorship is an incredible mental workout. Learning from someone you look up to combines the benefits of deep conversation with skill-building. Teaching someone else forces you to put yourself in their shoes, which requires empathy and problem-solving skills.

    Put yourself in both situations. Being a student makes you a better teacher, and teaching others gives you insight into how you, yourself, learn.

    Final Thoughts

    Your mind is your most important possession, and training your brain is needed to maintain its health. Don’t let it get soft.

    To keep those neurons firing at full speed, add a few fun mental workouts to your schedule. And if you’re still struggling to get your brain in gear, remember: there’s an app for that.

    More Tips for Training Your Brain

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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