Yes you can! Adopting a Growth Mindset

- Motivation

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by Louise Brace

How many times have you said, “I can’t do it, I don’t know how, I wasn’t born with that ability”. Having a mental block against certain tasks or skills stems from school, even as far back as your nursery years.

And as parents we tell our children, “Believe in yourself and you can achieve anything”. But is believing really enough to achieve anything? Sometimes words of encouragement alone won’t cut it. The good news is, ability can be developed. We all have it in us to learn the skills we’re not born with.

Growth mindset, learning new skills

Did you know: Tolstoy and Darwin were considered ordinary children, Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lacking imagination, Steve Jobs was removed from the first company he started, Oprah Winfrey was demoted from her job as a news anchor, because they felt she wasn’t fit for television, or that Geraldine Page was advised to give up acting, because she was lacking in any talent?

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has spent decades studying achievement and success – she came up with a very simple theory called Mindset, that can help people of all abilities achieve excellence. .

The two types of mindset

A fixed mindset leads people to believe basic qualities, like intelligence or talent, are fixed characteristics they are born with. Those with a fixed mindset tend to focus purely on the intelligence they believe they have, rather than how to develop further talent. If they don’t have a natural ability for something, they tend to switch off from that subject.

In a growth mindset, people believe that even complex abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. The genius you were born with is just the start. People that are trained or educated in a growth mindset love learning and developing their skills. They are challenge-seekers, persistent and generally achievers of excellence.

The proven way to improve performance

And Growth Mindset isn’t just a passing trend, with no substance behind it.

In the education sector, it’s received scientific back-up from both cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists. Students in secondary education, who took part in a mindset curriculum called Brainology, were reported to perform substantially better in both verbal and non-verbal IQ tests.

Actually it doesn’t matter what stage you are in life: in education, starting out in your career, half way through one, or embarking on a new venture; having a growth mindset can drastically improve your performance and productivity and help you get to the top of your game.

Why start nurturing Growth Mindset now?

Motivation, better engagement, increased productivity. And on a personal level, you might get on better with your other half!

People with a growth mindset are more motivated to learn and exert effort, whatever their age. And they usually outperform those with a fixed mindset. If you start to employ a growth mindset attitude in your organization, you can expect increased team effort and employee engagement.

Ways to adopt a Growth Mindset attitude

The Huffington Post recently focused on three tips to develop growth mindset, through: giving, gratitude and reflection.

If you are a business leader, having a fixed mindset will get your business nowhere fast. You can’t expect your team to be up for learning new abilities, if you don’t believe you can also change and improve. Having a growth mindset is about being able to admit you make mistakes and then moving on.

Fail and move on, growth mindset

Superiority sucks: If you feel superior to other employees in your organization, stop right now! A growth mindset attitude sees superiority as one step towards failure. Your attitude should be confident, without being superior.

If you are working in HR, or as a talent scout, then you should be seeking individuals with a growth mindset, rather than hiring just talent. Talent worship has been the downfall of more than one global business.

Question yourself every single day:

“What did you learn today?”
“What mistake did you make that taught you something?
“What did you try hard at today?”

Give yourself feedback based on each answer:

“I definitely got a bit smarter today.”
“Tomorrow I’ll try it this way.”
“I certainly didn’t imagine I would be able to achieve that.”

Grow your brain! Challenge yourself to learn new skills. Learning changes our brain; makes it more pliable and helps it grow stronger. Take a look through sites like Udemy or and find a course that will teach you skills you always wanted, but didn’t think you had the ability to learn.

I have just taken on a course to ‘Make Winning Decisions’, something I have never been able to do. But I’m up for growing my brain. Why not?

What does a growth mindset company look like?

A business that champions growth mindset should be continually giving feedback on process, over personal abilities. i.e. effort, persistence, challenge-seeking, goal-setting, planning and creating strategies.
Attitudes from the top down, might look something like this:

The board: support managers’ learning and are willing to learn from their team, are responsive, not defensive, to honest feedback, seek to build the abilities of the company.

The management: collaborate with colleagues at all levels, rather than shut their office doors to the world, strive to improve their own practice and admit failure, rather than blame others, believe that the team as a whole can learn and succeed and is willing to demonstrate how.

The team: are enthusiastic, motivated, hard-working and persistent. They take charge over their own success.

If you want to find out more about how Growth Mindset works, how you can apply it to you, your business or your children, I highly recommend Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Go on, challenge yourself!
Header Photo: Nikola Jovanovic (Unsplash)
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