Developing a Growth Mindset

Carol Dweck, a psychologist and leading researcher in human motivation, developed the terms “fixed” versus “growth” mindsets.

People who have a growth mindset believe that their talents can be developed through hard work, commitment and assistance from others. They tend to put in extra time and effort that leads to higher achievement because they believe they can do better. Having a growth mindset is essential for success and when companies embrace a growth mindset, it leads to higher employee engagement, retention, innovation and collaboration. On the flipside, a fixed mindset is limiting and people with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence, skills and abilities are static, that we are born with a certain amount of skill or talent, and that they cannot be enhanced. They believe that you either “have it or you don’t.”

Having a growth mindset has so many significant benefits to us as individuals, it empowers us to improve, it gives us the confidence, drive and determination but it also helps us to build our resilience and confidence.

From an organisational perspective, when entire companies embrace a growth mindset, employees feel more empowered, engaged and committed and the organisation benefits from enhanced collaboration and innovation.

Here are the main differences between a growth and fixed mindset according to Dweck:

Challenges: Typically people with a growth mindset have a tendency to embrace challenges as opposed to avoiding challenges with a fixed mindset;

Obstacles: People with a growth mindset persist in the face of setbacks instead of giving up easily;

Effort: People with a growth mindset see effort as a path to mastery instead of seeing effort as fruitless;

Criticism: People with a growth mindset learn from criticism and those with a fixed mindset tend to ignore useful negative feedback;

Success of others: People with a growth mindset find lessons and inspiration in the success of others and those with a fixed mindset feel threatened by the success of others;

As a result, people who have a growth mindset reach higher levels of achievement and those with a fixed mindset may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential.

Now based on this, wouldn’t we all want to have a growth mindset and work for organisations that embrace a growth mindset? The good news is that a growth mindset can be developed and improved over time. It all starts with self-awareness and then practice and commitment to improve, which will have a significant impact on our positivity, outlook and mindset.

Self-awareness – being aware of how we feel and the impact that our feelings have on our behaviour and those around us. When a situation arises, do we automatically think the worst and assume that nothing can be done about it, or do we accept the situation as a learning experience?;

Persistence – a growth mindset is all about persistence in the face of setbacks and challenges and not giving up easily when we face obstacles. Don’t avoid things that we don’t know, use them as a learning experiences;

Be open to, and encourage feedback and criticism – Learning what people think of us helps to improve both our self-awareness and awareness of others- the key competencies in emotional intelligence. Feedback and criticism are very valid and valuable source of data and information that we can use to understand and grow; and

Support other people’s success – find lessons and inspiration in the success of others rather than feeling threatened by others’ success.

Other top tips for developing a growth mindset:

  • Acknowledge and embrace imperfections
  • Face your challenges bravely
  • Replace the word “failing” with the word “learning”
  • Be truly authentic
  • Stop seeking approval
  • Use the word “yet”
  • Make a new goal for every goal accomplished
  • Develop an attitude of gratitude
  • View challenges as opportunities
  • Try new things