How To Develop A Growth Mindset

It’s been over thirty years since the phrase “growth mindset” was conceived, but its relevance in the workplace now appears more apparent than ever.

In a climate where employers have come to expect innovation on demand, having the ability to tackle challenges with a sense of unfazed curiosity is paramount to creative success.

People who possess growth mindsets believe intelligence is open to development. They embrace challenges, are persistent and welcome feedback – all of which contributes to higher levels of learning and achievement.

In contrast, individuals with fixed mindsets consider talent to be innate – you either have it or you don’t. Because of this, such people tend to avoid situations in which they do not feel competent. They take a more superficial stance towards intelligence, see effort as pointless and often fail to meet their potential as a result.

Perhaps the most important thing to note about fixed mindsets is that they are not permanent. The ability to take a growth approach to personal development can be learned.

Here’s how to start:

  1. Recognise: Before you can implement change, you must first try to identify your limiting behaviours and beliefs. If you reject learning opportunities out of fear, feel too self-conscious to express your thoughts or find yourself thinking “there’s no point in trying”, know that you now have the opportunity to substitute those beliefs for a more progressive perspective.

  2. Reflect: Once you have identified the areas in which you are restricted, it’s time to determine what you’re good at. Consider moments when you were resolute on mastering a new task and succeeded and times when you surpassed your own expectations. If you’re struggling to identify your positive traits, ask your friends, family and colleagues for feedback. By enlisting the help of trusted others, you are likely to develop a more complete understanding of where your strengths lie.

  3. Treat Challenges as Opportunities: People with growth mindsets tend to view challenges as potential learning opportunities. If this is not your natural approach when faced with a testing situation, try emphasising the process over the result and see it as a learning opportunity; regardless of the end result.

  4. Identify Triggers: Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Dr Carol Dweck, the Stanford professor who coined the term “growth mindset”, noted that every individual has their own set of “fixed mindset triggers” which tamper with their ability to grow. Situations in which we are subject to criticism or comparison can induce feelings of insecurity which in turn inhibit the growth approach. Make note of the triggers in your life, then decide how best you can manage them.

  5. Allow Yourself to Dream: Fixed thinking suggests there is little point in fantasising about untapped potential because your capabilities are in some way predetermined. By taking inspiration from the successes of others and permitting yourself to engage with your own dreams, you are more likely to make those ideals your reality.