We’ve all heard (and perhaps also said) motivational quotes like this headline. As clichéd as these ideas sometimes are, they are rooted in psychological theory. The concept of a fixed versus a growth mindset, as explained by psychologist Carol Dweck, refers to the belief that one’s abilities, intelligence, and talents are not unchangeable or permanent, but can be developed and improved through dedication, hard work, learning and perseverance.
Often those with a fixed mindset hold the belief that abilities and intelligence are innate and unchangeable. They may avoid challenges to avoid failure, may feel discouraged by setbacks, and may view effort as fruitless. By contrast, key attributes associated with a growth mindset include:
- Embracing challenges as opportunities to learn and improve
- Persisting and bouncing back in the face of setbacks
- Seeing effort as essential to mastery and success
- Learning from criticism and viewing feedback as valuable for growth
- Cultivating a love for learning itself, not just achieving specific outcomes
- Believing in the ability to change, develop and grow over time
These characteristics apply not only to how we view ourselves, but how we view others that we may work with and serve as well. If we approach situations with a growth mindset, knowing that facing challenges is an essential part of the learning process, we can help others see setbacks or difficulties as temporary and encourage development and perseverance. Check out this great episode of Leadership Lessons from Central Illinois Public Television focused on developing a growth mindset in the workplace. And if you work with adults and families, be sure to bookmark this Mindset Kit with plenty of ideas and resources to help foster a learning mindset in those you work with.
Cultivating a growth mindset, in ourselves and others, is beneficial as it fosters resilience, adaptability and a positive approach to improvement and development in so many areas, including our work, our continuing education as well as personal and family life.