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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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    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How Systems Thinking Makes You a Smarter Person

    How Systems Thinking Makes You a Smarter Person

    There are several perspectives on the term systems thinking. The discipline goes beyond a collection of tools and techniques. A lot of individuals are fascinated by tools like brainstorming tools, structural thinking tools, dynamic thinking tools, as well as computer-based tools. They believe the system thinking tools can make them smarter and productive. However, it goes beyond that as systems thinking is more strategic and sensitive to the environment we find ourselves.

    So what is systems thinking and why is it good for you?

    What Is Systems Thinking?

    Systems thinking is a diagnostic tool that can help you to assess problems before taking action. It helps you to ask questions before arriving at conclusions. It prevents you from making an assumption, which is the lowest level of knowledge.

    A systems thinker is curious, compassionate, and courageous. The systems thinking approach incorporates the act of seeing the big picture instead of seeing in parts. It recognizes that we are connected, and there are diverse ways to solve a problem.

    Characteristics of Systems Thinking

    Systems thinking can help you in analyzing the connections between subsystems and understanding their potentials to make smarter decisions.

    In a soccer team, the elements are the coach, players, the field, and a ball. The interrelationships are strategies, communications among players, and game rules. The goal is to win, have fun and exercise. We all belong to several systems and subsystems.

    Some characteristics of systems thinking include:

    • Issue is important
    • The issue is familiar with well-known patterns
    • Attempts have been made to resolve the issue.

    Given these characteristics, systems thinking goes beyond an operational tool; it is a strategic approach and a philosophy.

    How to Use Systems Thinking

    Here’re 3 ways you can use systems thinking:

    1. Understand How the System Works and Use Feedback Points

    The first task is to know what system is all about and identify the leverage points or feedbacks that influence its functioning. This is what will help in adjusting the system.

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    If you want the system to be productive, enhance the feedback points. If you want it to be less productive, exhaust the same points.

    A good example is that of a bathtub. The leverage points are the faucet and the drain. If you forget to close the drain, having turned on the water, the water will never stop flowing, and the tub will never overflow.

    If you want more water, close the drain while you turn the water. If otherwise, turn the faucet off and open the drain. You can apply this to your personal development.

    Once you discover the feedback points in your life, find your leverage or feedback points, then enhance those points. If you want to be fit, get a trainer, find a mentor, or eat healthy foods.

    2. Discover the Patterns, Structure, and Events

    Trends and patterns could be compared to clues for a crossword puzzle. As you aspire to enhance the system, trends and patterns offer you hints and cause to shift your paradigm. Usually, they can direct you to unusual and unexpected aspects, to ideas, people, or places you have never thought about.

    Smart people watch out for trends and patterns so they can be conversant with changes.

    You can view the world from 3 different perspectives:

    i. The Event Perspective

    If you consider the world from an event perspective, the best you can do is to be smarter is ‘react’. You tend to be smarter by reacting quickly, becoming more lighter on your feet, and flexible as you advance through life.

    So how do you view the world from an event perspective? You ask a question like, ‘What happened?’.

    There is the possibility of becoming more aware and seeing more at this level. An excellent technique to achieve this is by telling a story to a group. If you can see beyond each event, see beyond patterns and trends, you will be empowered to anticipate, predict, and plan.

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    ii. Pattern Perspective

    To view the world from a pattern perspective, you need to ask, ‘What has been happening?’

    It is most times difficult to see the actual size of an iceberg (underlying structures that are the causes of events). The waterline dissects what’s visible from what’s not visible.

    A systems thinker does not assume from what’s visible only; he or she seeks to know what has been happening.

    Take a look at this video to understand more about the Iceberg Theory:

     

    iii. The Structure Perspective

    To view the world from a structure perspective, you need to ask, ‘what is causing issues?’ The answers will be the factors and forces responsible.

    If you find yourself in a traffic jam, you don’t blame the next driver as a smart person; you could ask, ‘what’s been causing the traffic jam?

    The usual answers could be a decaying road surface, careless driver, or high speed, but that would be the same things identified as trends. What makes the structure perspective different from others.

    The structure is what propels your energy. It is what affects happenings. A systems thinkers make deductions based on internal structures to arrive at a conclusion

    3. People Problems vs System Problems

    Several issues ranging from security breaches, product flaws, poverty, to transportation inefficiencies are systemic.

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    Even when you misbehave, there is usually an internal system to blame.

    If you are not productive in your business, it may not be caused by you. There may be a system that you need to enhance.

    Do you remember our feedback points? As soon as you assess the system, you can focus on people. Is a new hire causing lag in the packaging process? Is poor communication affecting the team’s performance? Reallocating job roles may be a perfect leverage point.

    In the traffic jam example, there could be a system-based solution such as installing traffic lights and subsequently enforcing traffic laws in the area to penalize reckless drivers.

    How to Foster Learning with Systems Thinking

    Systems thinking helps you to appreciate the interrelationships of people, organizations, policies, decisions, ideas, and relationships.

    Peter M Senge propounded five disciplines that foster learning in your DNA- whether you are leading an organization, starting a venture, or working as a freelancer.[1]

    1. Gain Mastery

    You can take online courses, attend conferences, read blog articles and books, listen to podcasts, converse with leaders within and beyond your industry, watch documentaries, learn from your team, and stretch yourself by improving your skills.

    2. Discover Your Assumptions and Biases

    There was this parable of four blind men who made different assumptions about an elephant. Their assumptions and biases hinder them from understanding how the animal looks like.

    Biases can rob you of innovation and prevent you from experiencing personal growth. To become aware of your biases, you have to take an internal trip and engage breakthrough thinking.

    3. Establish Your Vision

    Systems grind to a halt when the goal or mission is not defined. You will not have the motivation to complete the online course if you don’t know why you subscribe in the first place.

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    Is it for career advancement? To up your game or to gain general knowledge? Vision inspires you.

    4. Learn in Groups

    There is power in shared learning. There is a solidification of understanding when you learn in a group. You can have the lessons etched in your long term memory.

    For instance, you can join learning groups where information is shared weekly.

    5. Think in Systems

    Systems thinking is about lifelong learning and improvement. It has also been linked to the Iceberg principle, which affirms that visible events are insignificant compared to what’s visible. There’s more ice below the waterline than what you can see with your physical eyes.

    Anytime you are battling with a challenge, think in systems. Understand the details of the issue. Discover your leverage points. Assess, adapt, and keep improving your models.

    After all. If you meet a lion in the wild, you need to understand what you are facing.

    Final Thoughts

    You can foster systems thinking by modeling your own environment. Participate in training, watch TED Talks, and create time to connect with others.

    Also, practice critical thinking instead of making assumptions before you make a decision. The more you think systems, the more you will become smarter and productive in every aspect of your life.

    More to Help You Think Smarter

    Featured photo credit: Olav Ahrens Røtne via unsplash.com

    Reference

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