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10/10/10 #8: The Growth Mindset: Growing to Achieve

10/10/10 #8: The Growth Mindset: Growing to Achieve

“We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves.” – Swami Vivekananda

A growth mindset is key to progression. Stanford Professor Carol Dweck, a prominent contributor to the research area, states that with a growth mindset we believe our abilities can be developed through application and instruction. It’s in contrast to a fixed mindset, which is of the belief that one’s abilities are fixed.

Dweck’s research, centred around education, shows that performance levels increase with a growth mindset. The research also demonstrates that students with teachers who help to foster a growth mindset fare better than those with teachers who were more ‘fixed mindset orientated’ towards student learning.

What does a growth mindset mean for our careers?

Adopting a growth mindset has huge potential benefits for realising career ambitions. For business leaders, creating an environment that supports a growth mindset can generate greater levels of performance across a team.

How do we create a ‘growth mindset’ approach?

Praise the Process:

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perserverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pele

While goals matter, identifying a process that can enable you to achieve your goals is also key. As Dweck outlines in an article in the Harvard Business Review, the process can include a mix of working hard, trying new things and saying yes to opportunities. When learning and progress emerges from the process you define, Dweck stresses the importance of praising the process. Because it’s ultimately the process that enables you to achieve your goals.

Know your end-goal, focus on milestone goals:

Dweck states that ‘process’ alone is not what the growth mindset is about. Effort needs to be channelled in the right way. But while knowing your end-goal is important, being solely focussed on it is not the answer either. It can be demotivating, particularly if it is used to monitor progress in the early stages of pursuing a goal.

Milestone goals, a mix of short, medium and long-term objectives are most effective to create realistic and motivational targets. They also provide regular updates on the true picture of your progress in pursuing an ultimate goal. From the start-line to the finish-line.

 Embrace the Fails:

”The only true failure lies in the failure to start.” – Harold Blake Walker

Through her research, Dweck highlights that openness to, and learning from, failure is a key attribute of a growth mindset.  A person inspired to achieve an aspirational vision of themselves is proven to be more open to new experiences. This attribute of inspiration, combined with embracing failure through a growth mindset is a wonderful springboard to achieve.

The growth mindset is likely to increase in prominence in work and everyday life. A simple ‘starting-point’ commitment to it is to try something new each day for the rest of the week. And to celebrate the learning and progress gained each time.