There are essentially two ways to view competence or intelligence. Some people think that the level of ability we are born with cannot be changed, which is known as a fixed mindset. Others believe that through effort and persistence, we can improve and reach new heights. This is called a growth mindset, and it’s unsurprisingly the more productive viewpoint.
How you think about your capabilities has a major influence on what you can accomplish. It’s true that hard work is vital to success, and that it’s important not to give up. However, the crucial component here is the underlying belief that you can push past apparent boundaries, changing, learning, and growing well into adulthood.
In this guide, we explore the growth mindset and provide several practical ways for you to implement it in daily life.
The Growth Mindset
So, where did the idea of a growth mindset come from? It was originally conceptualized by Stanford Ph.D. Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Here, she outlines a simple demonstration analyzing the test results of two groups of students, namely one with a fixed mindset and one with a growth mindset.
Those in the second group were shown to score higher grades over time, while the grades of those in the first group not only showed less improvement but in some cases got worse.
In practice, people with a fixed mindset are more focused on results, with their brain being more active when receiving information about the outcome of their efforts. On the other hand, those with a growth mindset are interested in being told how they can do better and finding out what they don’t already know.
The right approach is not to ask how you did, but rather what you can do better next time. Put another way, a fixed mindset focuses on how you’re perceived, while a growth mindset is about what you can learn.
Simple enough, right? Before we discuss how you can adopt the growth mindset, let’s rule out a few common myths and misconceptions about the theory.
Myths and Misconceptions
First, it should be noted that the fixed and growth mindsets are not an either/or affair. While we tend to identify with one or the other, the reality is that they exist on a spectrum, and we may shift from end to end. Thus, maintaining a growth mindset requires cultivating the right habits and staying mindful of how we perceive ourselves.
Another misunderstanding is that a growth mindset is the same as a positive mindset. While having a growth mindset is a positive thing, it’s not simply a matter of trying to stay happy. It’s wise to be realistic about what can and cannot be done. Setting goals is useful, but you don’t want to aim unrealistically high and end up losing motivation.
This brings us to the last misconception, which is that everyone has unlimited potential. We might not ever know just how much we’re capable of – unless we find out! However, we do have limitations. At the same time, people with a growth mindset recognize that their capacity for accomplishment isn’t determined by their genetic makeup.
Having said that, we can now move on to the habits that are common among individuals with a growth mindset.
Implementing the Growth Mindset
A key tenet of the growth mindset is lifelong learning. Here’s how you can incorporate it into your routine.
Whatever challenges or dilemmas you currently face, rest assured that there’s at least one book or article that discusses it and provides appropriate solutions. There’s an overwhelming amount of evidence that reading is something we should all do more often, from the way it trains your brain and sparks your imagination to the valuable lessons you can learn.
For most people, education is something that stops after high school or college. But for those with a growth mindset and a dedication to lifelong learning, investing time into educating oneself is an ongoing facet of life. Now more than ever, you can comfortably take on courses and delve into other forms of learning in your spare time.
There are many online schools where you can study a subject of interest and receive recognized degrees that could potentially be career-changing. For example, you can check out this site to explore the degree and certificate programs that are available in areas such as business, education, and nursing.
As you invest more time into learning, you mustn’t forget about your health along the way. You will only be able to reach the heights of your potential if your mind and body are in working order. From eating a healthy diet to getting enough sleep to exercising regularly, these activities are just as important as growing your mind.
Be sure not to limit yourself to one area of growth at a time. Einstein, for example, was an avid violinist, and Steve Jobs was also passionate about music. Expanding your skill set and areas of expertise ensures that all of your mental muscles grow equally, and none get neglected.
Find something that you truly enjoy, be it yoga, hiking, playing a musical instrument, or practicing a sport, and use the time you spend on that activity as a way to rest your mind and get into your body. A balanced lifestyle is key to a growth mindset.
There’s something to learn from even the most boring situations. What you pay attention to during an interaction with someone can mean the difference between an uninteresting conversation and an insightful learning experience. At the same time, notice how you speak and act, and don’t hesitate to consider where there may be room for improvement.
Depending on where you currently are on the fixed and growth mindset scale, moving towards the latter end might take some diligence. Be that as it may, your efforts are bound to pay off as you become a more competent, motivated, and successful individual.