Today we are going to talk about Growth Mindset. We will revisit what it is and go on to talk about why it’s important.
Ready to dive in? Letssss go!
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What Growth Mindset Is
Take a minute and collect any thoughts that you have on the concept of mindset or growth mindset. What do you believe about your abilities? Can a person develop their intelligence, creative abilities, character, or even interpersonal skills? Does your mindset matter?
Okay, now let’s get on the same page. In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol S. Dweck says that “believing that people can develop their abilities” is the core of the growth mindset.
Before you go writing the book off as as some hippy dippy self-help baloney, understand that this is just a fact. Many people believe that human ability is just something we are born with or we aren’t. Growth minded people believe that human ability is something that can be developed with hard work. (Fellow boy moms who got that LEGO movie reference, you are my people!! Haha!)
Think about it this way. If you don’t think you can do something, you likely aren’t going to take a risk and try it anyway right? Even if you do get as far as taking the initial risk and fail, you would be done at that point and say something like “I knew I couldn’t do it.” A growth minded person would instead think, how can I attack this differently? What information do I need to learn in order to be successful at this? Do I simply need to put more effort towards this to be successful.
I hope you are already beginning to see why this is important.
Why should you develop growth mindset?
1. Mindset affects your relationships.
What we believe about our own abilities and another’s deeply affects relationships of any kind. It comes out in how we judge ourselves and how we judge others. If we believe our abilities are fixed and we don’t have the potential for growth, we may develop an inflated view of our interpersonal skills.
For example, a small critique or request for change from our romantic partner will leave us feeling labeled as a total failure. Likely we would then resort to the blame game rather than self evaluation and jumping into what we can do to on our end to improve the relationship.
This can even happen in an organizational setting where the leader is set up as someone who can do no wrong. When someone challenges that, regardless of how appropriate or inappropriate their manner, the entire group comes to the defense of the leader. Rather than tackling the areas of their leadership in which there is room for improvement, the leader instead attempts to control the way the challenger is viewed by the group.
A growth minded leader does not see others in the organization as below them but as a vital part of the whole. They value and even seek dissenting opinions so that the organization become the best version of itself.
In the parent-child relationship this can look like a child constantly feeling judged about their fixed abilities. Alternatively in a growth minded parent-child relationship the parent is seen as a supportive coach/mentor in the child’s developmental journey.
2. Mindset affects your education (and your children’s education).
In last weeks post you saw how the fixed mindset negatively affected my education as a “smart” student. But let’s think for a minute about the students who are written off as dumb. Maybe you’ve even written yourself off as dumb in a given area of study. In the fixed mindset you are what you’ve been labeled so why bother trying to change it?
Dweck found in her research that often all it took for these kids to show drastic change was to show them that intelligence was something they could grow in.
My oldest son is already very much like me. He is “smart”, but from now on you won’t catch me telling him that. I will be praising his efforts/hard work/process of learning. And if his effort does not result in the desired outcome (learning with comprehension) he will be encouraged to figure out how he can tackle the concepts differently and increase his learning.
3. Mindset affects your happiness and success.
Think about it, if you believe that your abilities are fixed then you are never going to take a risk and try something new. Even if you believe that you would be happier and feel more satisfied than you do currently.
Here’s a somewhat trivial example. Last year I watched the movie Leap with my boys and again regretted quitting dance back in middle school. Then at church one Sunday I saw a beautiful ballerina (who is now my friend) dance. I told her how moved I was and she said she was hoping to get some adults involved in her dance company. My immediate thoughts were that I couldn’t do that. And honestly if she had opened up the class before I read about growth mindset, I likely would not have taken the risk.
If I want to improve my ballet repertoire at age 30 after an 18 year hiatus its going to take lots of risks, failures, looking stupid, and hard work to retrain my muscles (and my mind to pay attention to my arms, posture, core, and feet all at the same time!) Essentially I have two choices. Either I don’t believe it is possible to improve so I don’t put much effort toward any of the above and continue being unhappy/unsuccessful concerning dance. OR I believe that it is possible to improve my dance skills and lean into my lack so I can be happy and successful in the process of learning to dance again.
Now I called this example trivial because dance is a hobby for me. At this point I’m not planning on quitting my day job. But maybe there is something you would like to quit your day job for. Maybe it feels trivial and risky. But maybe it’s just that you are not looking at it with a growth mindset.
Lean into any lack of knowledge that you have in that area and figure out how to remedy. Silence any voices in your mind that say that you can’t develop whatever skill/intelligence that you desire to. It will likely take a lot of hard work, risks, and failures, but it will be worth it!
How does growth mindset sound to you?
Had you given much thought to mindset prior to reading this? Share those thoughts and anyway that your beliefs have changed or interests are piqued below! If you haven’t grabbed it yet, Carol S. Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is a steal on Amazon!
On another note…
The photos in this are a great example of the growth mindset. Though I likely would have gotten where I am now with photography and editing much faster without fixed mindset voices in my head, I carried out a very growth minded approach. I soaked up any information I could find and did lots of trial and error to find my style. I even joined a mentorship program/course in order to improve my skill.
And now I am trying to pass a growth mindset in this area on to my little boy. He is interested in photos and sooo sooo proud to be mommy’s photographer. We had a little trouble keeping my head in the frame this time. So out of character for him! Haha!