Growth mindset is a concept that’s recently gained attention in the education world. Researcher Dr. Carol Dweck coined the term after years of studying thousands of school children and their behavior towards failure and setbacks.1 She and her colleagues discovered that students’ perceptions of their abilities were related to their motivation and achievement. Basically, “students who believed that their intelligence could be developed (a growth mindset) outperformed those who believed their intelligence was fixed (a fixed mindset).”2
Fixed mindset traits and beliefs:
- Abilities are innate and unchangeable
- Failure is permanent
- View critical feedback as an attack
- More likely to choose easier tasks and put in minimal effort
- Likely to give up in the face of obstacles
- Focus on measurable accomplishments
- Less likely to take creative risks
Growth mindset traits and beliefs:
- Failure is a chance to learn and pivot
- Feedback is a chance to improve and develop a new system
- More likely to embrace difficult tasks and work hard to improve
- View obstacles as a chance to experiment and solve problems
- Focus on the journey of continual improvement
- Creative risks are a way to innovate and improve
Simply put, growth mindset is “the understanding that intelligence and abilities can be developed.”1 It is the belief that with perseverance, effort, and effective strategies, one can learn and grow.
Effort and strategy
With a growth mindset, failure is not the end of the story; it is an opportunity to learn and try a different strategy. Strategy is a key factor in growth mindset and effort. If someone is putting forth all the effort in the world, but using an ineffective strategy, they are much less likely to improve.
Someone with a growth mindset is able to step back and examine their process. They ask themselves, “What’s working? What isn’t working? How do I need to change my approach?” They explore different strategies, develop new systems, and seek the input of others. Effort isn’t an end unto itself. It is the means to learning and improving.
Take a moment to ask yourself if you lean more towards a fixed or growth mindset. Chances are you’ll find yourself somewhere on a continuum of both. If you find yourself taking on a fixed mindset, try thinking about ways you can look at the situation differently and adopt more of a growth mindset. This will take practice, but over time it can become a habit.
In our next blog post we’ll discuss how to develop effective strategies for reaching your goals. Stay tuned!
If you missed the previous blogs in our Healthy Habits series, check them out here: