A growth mindset is correlated with success more than intelligence is predictive of success. So how do you get this growth mindset?
Did you know your brain can learn to change the way it works? It doesn’t just learn the new information you study at school. Our brains are able to change and adapt. You can learn to use your brain to your benefit through developing a growth mindset.
What’s a growth mindset?
The concept of fixed and growth mindsets was introduced by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in 2007. Her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, discussed this new way of thinking about how we think.
Of course, Yoda knew this long ago…
Per Dr. Dweck, people with a fixed mindset believe that people’s intelligence and abilities are static and outside their control. In contrast, those with a growth mindset know that intelligence is dynamic. We know that the brain is able to change based on experiences and efforts.
Some kids worry that they don’t have enough.
Not enough intelligence.
Or enough skill.
This is the fixed mindset.
Young Luke Skywalker was suffering from a fixed mindset. Yoda, the wise master, told him there is no try. He was pushing Luke to have a growth mindset.
Some kids grow up thinking that they can do anything if they just work hard at it.
They don’t worry if they’re smart enough or skilled enough.
These kids know that if they work hard, they have a chance. This is a growth mindset.
Who succeeds in life?
You know what? Studies show that intelligence doesn’t matter as much as grit.
People with a growth mindset have grit and resilience. They are more successful in life.
Even people who are very gifted intellectually can fail to succeed if they stop trying. They often start off in school finding that it’s easy, so they don’t need to learn study skills early on. When academics become challenging, they don’t know how to learn. They can easily get frustrated and give up if they’ve relied on being smart and lived with a fixed mindset.
Many people with ADHD develop a fixed mindset because they so often struggle with everything. They focus on getting a good outcome, but they fail to see the benefit to the process of trying. The good news is that they can learn to succeed if they change their mindset!
How can you get a growth mindset?
Okay, so it’s obvious that a growth mindset is better than a fixed mindset, but how do you get one?
Look at your way of thinking
When you face a challenge in daily life and you want to quit (or just not start), ask yourself what’s going on.
Really stop and think.
- Is there a voice telling you that you can’t do it?
- Does it say you’re not good enough?
- Is the little voice telling you that it’s someone else’s fault?
This little voice is your fixed mindset.
A fixed mindset is when we believe our intelligence, attributes and abilities are fixed and unable to change.
If you listen to this little voice, you will stop before even trying.
This voice holds you back. It keeps you from achieving your goals and dreams. You’ll never know your full potential if you listen to it and quit.
When we have a fixed mindset, we constantly feel the need to prove ourselves. It leaves us vulnerable and highly sensitive to being wrong or making a mistake. When we have this mindset, any failure or mistake destroys our self confidence. This leads to being anxious and keeps us from learning from constructive criticisms and mistakes.
Choose to ignore that little voice
Once you recognize that the little nagging voice is your fixed mindset, you can learn to ignore it.
A growth mindset allows us to understand that our talents and abilities can be improved and developed.
If your fixed mindset voice is telling you that you can’t do it, think of how you can.
Is a big task overwhelming? Break it into several smaller task and get started on the first one. Small tasks seem manageable. And after doing one, you can move on to the next. Before you know it, the whole thing is done!
Instead of saying…
“I’m not very good at this.” or “This is too hard.”
“This is really hard for me. I need to keep practicing.”
Celebrate the hard work
Remember all the times you weren’t sure if you could do something, but you did it?
Even if it wasn’t perfect, you did it!
If you don’t even try, you can’t succeed.
How can you start whatever needs to be done? What tools do you need? Are there resources you can use? Is the size of the task intimidating? Can you break it down into smaller parts?
Instead of thinking you’re not good enough, think about what you can do to be good enough.
Know that you are able to solve problems. You can grow from doing anything you set your mind to doing!
Keep track of progress
Keep a notebook or electronic file of all the things your fixed mindset said were not possible to do but you were able to get them done.
Include your successes as well as the times you tried but didn’t quite meet your goal. They can be celebrated for the process of doing, even if the outcome wasn’t what you wanted.
You can learn a lot even when you don’t quite meet your goal. Think about what happened when you didn’t quite get what you wanted – usually it’s not that bad.
Be sure to not get lost in the goal itself, but the process of how you got there. There’s a lot of good learning that comes from the process.
Maybe you didn’t get an A on that really hard project, but you learned something about the topic. Maybe you didn’t see it at the time, but you learned organizational skills or research tips from the process.
Sometimes the best teacher is a mistake – as long as you evaluate what happened and use it as a learning experience. You can take all the things you learned with you when you work on your next project.
It’s the effort you put in to a project that helps you learn. The outcome if things work well or not really is less important. Focus on how you problem solve and your determination to continue, even when things are hard. That’s what helps you to strengthen your growth mindset.
Exercise your brain
Your brain is like a muscle: the more you use it, the better it gets. Each time you’re faced with the negative little voice of a fixed mindset, you need to challenge it with positive thinking.
The more you practice this, the easier it gets. It might never be your first line of thinking, but you can always choose to think with a growth mindset.
Growth versus fixed mindsets are explained in this short video from TedEd.
This is a FANTASTIC inspirational video.
Take the time to watch The Wisdom of a 3rd Grade Dropout.