What is a growth mindset? Why do I need one?
Here's a summary of what a growth mindset is. I also cover the alternative. Spoiler alert, it's a fixed mindset. What I've discovered are 30 compelling reasons why you need a growth mindset.
There are more reasons, but 30 is a pretty good starting point.
First a little story...
I didn't enjoy geography at school. Although I liked my teacher - he was great. Until he told me he wasn't putting me forward to sit the O'level. He didn't believe I'd pass. But you know the first thing that went through my mind?
- I'm useless
- I hate you Mr Roke
- Geography - who needs geography anyway
My first thought was...
I'll show him
Little did I know at the time, but this was my growth mindset in action.
What Is A Growth Mindset?
A growth mindset, in its simplest form is the belief you can develop your skills and abilities.
In my article, what is confidence and why you need to understand it, I highlighted the vital part our mindset plays in our confidence.
In the words of Dr Carol Dweck, the genius behind the growth mindset,
'The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.'
Carol Dweck’s work on mindset reveals the power of our beliefs and how they can ‘affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it.’
So, what does she mean by this?
Thankfully you’re not limited to the capabilities you’re born with, but through effort and hard work, you can achieve anything. There's hope for us all who believe we're not naturally talented. That those born with talent will always be successful and we, lesser mortals don't stand a chance.
The secret sauce here is effort. Building a growth mindset is not a quick fix scenario where suddenly overnight, you can change the way you think about things.
A growth mindset needs time, effort and constant stimulation to learn and be better at what you do.
To my mind, embracing a growth mindset is like embarking on a voyage of self-discovery. Are you willing to face stormy waters, the upheaval of emotions and challenging waves?
If you are, then the most extraordinary achievements will be yours.
What Is A Fixed Mindset?
Okay, so we’ve looked at the growth mindset. Let’s have a look at the opposite – the fixed mindset.
The fixed mindset believes intelligence is static. There’s a limit to what you can do and, anything needing a lot of effort can be dismissed as impossible.
In the face of adversity, there’s a tendency to give up. What’s the point in trying when it won’t change anything?. As a result, when others are successful, there’s jealousy over their achievements. The success of others is a threat to you.
With a fixed mindset, there’s a need to prove yourself always right. There’s no acceptance of mistakes or vulnerability. Making a mistake is embarrassing so rather than take responsibility, it’s easier to blame someone else, or the environment or anything else that comes to mind.
If someone else makes a mistake, there’s a relief that it’s not you. Let them make a fool of themselves!
When it comes to criticism, there’s a belief that it’s a way to make you feel small and unworthy. Criticism is a way of putting you down, so better to keep your head below the parapet.
We're social animals, and as a result, there is a strong sense of wanting to belong. Whilst fitting in is not a bad thing, the fixed mindset limits itself. Because there’s a desperate need to be accepted, there is a strong need to seek approval from others. To confirm that you’re doing the right thing. As a result, too much reliance is placed on the opinion of others. Your own needs are forgotten.
The consequences of a fixed mindset is:
- Lack of development as a person
- Stuck in a life with no chance of progress
- Loss of opportunities
I hate to have to point out the bad news, but having a fixed mindset limits you. Embracing a growth mindset means that you can become who and what you want to be.
So, let’s look at the compelling reasons why you need a growth mindset.
30 Compelling Reasons You Need A Growth Mindset
1. The beliefs you have in your ability are unlimited
In the fixed mindset, you believe you can't improve. However the growth mindset believes you can continually grow, learn and become better.
2. Acceptance of your flaws and imperfections
We're all a work in progress, and there's no such thing as perfection. As a result, any perceived flaws or imperfections are accepted as part of who you are.
3. Weakness doesn’t define you
Everybody has a weakness, or an area needing development. It doesn’t mean that you are a failure.
4. You're genuine and open
Accepting your flaws and perfections means you're not trying to hide from your mistakes, or be someone else.
5. Continually evolving
Attention is on improvement. You’re not stuck with regrets or worries about past actions.
6. Encourages bravery
Failure is not a definition of your ability. You’re more likely to push yourself beyond your comfort zone where the magic happens.
7. Builds persistence
You understand that when things go wrong, there's another approach to try. Setbacks are a natural process of learning and build persistence. You'll try again to get the result you want
8. Problems are resolved quicker
A willingness to explore new ways of doing things helps you become more creative about problem-solving
9. You have a greater sense of purpose
Your mind is willing to explore its dreams and desires; as a result, there's a greater sense of purpose to what you do.
10. Avoids immediate gratification
Knowing your purpose in life means you see the bigger picture. With eyes on the big prize, you focus on what you want to achieve. Less distraction from shiny object syndrome
11. Greater Resilience
Setbacks, criticism or opinions of others are easier to handle as your focus is on your advancement without worrying about what others may think.
12. Progress beyond perfection
Waiting for situations or events to be perfect can delay progress. With a growth mindset, you know that making progress is what matters most. Perfection doesn't exist.
13. Focus on growth, not on speed
You’re more deliberate about how you spend your time. As long as you’re improving, it doesn’t matter how long it takes. You’re not seduced by quick fixes that could impact you later.
14. Security and a sense of well-being
Knowledge gained through substantial experience gives you a strong sense of self-assurance and belief in yourself. If you don’t know something, you’re capable of learning it.
15. You're an action taker
With a focus on taking action as being the best way to learn, you become a proactive action taker. Whilst dreamers fantasise about their life, you live it.
16. Happy to embrace challenges
New challenges are an opportunity to grow. You don’t fear going into the unknown.
17. Open to learning new things
Your ability to understand new ideas is fluid. You don’t stay in a rut doing the same old thing and expecting different results.
18. Willing to try new ideas
If at first you don’t succeed, it might be due to the way you are doing something. Trying a new approach allows you to make progress faster.
19. Unafraid of failing
Failing is a learning process. Failure doesn't define you; it means there’s a better way to approach the situation.
20. Learn from others
A willingness to learn from others enhances understanding, knowledge and builds relationships.
21. Love of learning
With attention on learning and seeing its benefits, a new love of learning evolves, which increases your motivation
22. Brain plasticity
Learning increases the connections with the brain - it's like yoga for the mind.
23. Provides self-validation
You become secure in your skillset, understanding your strengths and weaknesses. You’re not reliant on seeking approval which could be biased to how others think.
24. Liberation from what other's think
You're free from concerns about what other’s might say about you. You understand that everyone has an opinion, but you don’t worry about it. It doesn’t keep you up at night!
25. Become a better listener
Due to your focus and understanding, you engage in active listening as you determine what is useful to you.
26. Celebrate other's success
You’re no longer caught up in jealousy of others achievements but see this as a demonstration of an excellent way to do things. You can learn from other’s success.
27. Learn from feedback
You welcome feedback as an opportunity to learn. You hear the good and know that you’re on the right path and you understand the ways to improve which you can implement to become even better.
28. Accepts Criticism
Another opportunity to grow and gather the information you need to improve. You understand that this is not a personal attack and are not stressed by it.
29. Willingness to take risks
By taking risks, you go outside your comfort zone and acquire more knowledge and understanding, which opens up to new opportunities.
30. Reach higher levels of success
Your success is a culmination of all the preceding benefits. You can achieve bigger and greater goals and rewards.
A Growth Mindset Benefits
Due to the large number of benefits, a growth mindset can provide means it’s a better way of thinking. Not only will you make more remarkable progress towards your goals and dreams, you’re free from the stress, anxiety and inner doubt that plagues those with a fixed mindset. Less stress and doubt means greater happiness.
To be more successful is alluring, but it does require an openness and willingness to learn. It isn’t easy to change your way of thinking. It takes hard work, focused effort and action.
Whilst having a growth mindset is something to aspire to, the reality is the majority of us have a mixture of both growth and fixed mindset.
Thankfully, if you do have a fixed mindset, you can always learn how to change.
I know there are times when I think with a fixed mindset. It's heartening to know that Carol Dweck confesses the same thing in her book Mindset: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential.
But, I'm committed to improving every day. Are you?
And, in case your wondering, I did get my O'level in geography. Mr Roke sought me out to congratulate me and to tell me he was proud I'd proved him wrong. If I hadn't adopted a growth mindset, I would never have achieved this.
- I didn't wallow in the criticism
- I took action
- I believed I could do it!
What will you achieve?