This informal CPD article on The power of a growth mindset was provided by Johanna Scheutzow, Business Psychologist at Thrive Mental Wellbeing, a software company that prevents, screens and manages mental health conditions 24/7.
“Do you believe that attributes are fixed traits that can’t be changed or that they are malleable qualities that can be grown?”
If you answer this question by saying that with practice you can develop and improve your attributes such as intelligence, skills and creativity, then you exhibit a growth mindset. Based on Carol Dweck's research, a Stanford psychologist, people with a growth mindset believe that they can always get better and improve. Who defines what your potential is and what you are capable of if you challenge yourself and have a continuous passion for learning and personal growth?
On the other hand, if you believe that your attributes are fixed, you may experience black and white self-talk like "will I succeed or fail?" that tells you that you have to be good and prove your abilities to others. You may also label yourself with negative words when you do not achieve what you ought to be. Your performance-oriented mindset tends to see failure and mistakes as a threat because they prevent you from achieving the success you want, making you prefer to avoid any risk as much as possible.
Continuously nurture a growth mindset
So why should you continuously nurture a growth mindset? Essentially, depending on our mindset, we react differently to success and setbacks. Most importantly, it affects our resilience - our ability to bounce back from adversity and grow from it, our performance, our personal development and our ability to learn and remember things. For example, receiving feedback helps our personal development, and seeing it with a fixed mindset might prevent us from hearing things that can be learned and improved, while leading to self-defeating self-talk and performance-interfering thoughts that only see the binary outcome being failure. Our mindset is deeply ingrained from childhood and shapes our beliefs, values, goals and choices we make throughout our lives.
If we cultivate a growth mindset, we will be able to thrive in the face of challenges and setbacks, which will allow us to learn and become more resilient in the future. Challenging ourselves and stepping out of our comfort zone might lead to us making a mistake but it is the only way we can learn and develop. If we do not make mistakes or things always go well, we do not learn and stay fixed in our current state of mind. Neuroplasticity, our neural pathways constantly changing through experience and learning, shows us that we can always get better, learn new skills and improve existing capabilities.
How to adopt a growth mindset
The most important question you may be asking yourself now is: How can I change my cognitive habits to adopt a growth mindset?
- Learn about the mindsets and how they can affect you.
- Increase your self-awareness. We all carry fixed and growing mindsets about all sorts of abilities, which requires us to learn identifying your triggers and fixed self-talk so we can see that we have a choice.
- Challenge your self-talk and how you interpret and respond to triggers. Ask yourself growth questions such as "What can I learn from this or what have I learned today?", "What did I find difficult today?", "What is my current learning strategy?”, "Is my current learning strategy working / if not, how can I change it?” Am I finding constructive feedback?" and so on. Consider how you feel now that you have challenged your thinking and beliefs.
- Then take action, such as embracing new challenges or adjusting actions based on the feedback.
- Be patient with yourself and remember that it takes time, calibration to find the right method, effort and practice to develop a growth mindset.
To conclude, everyone can learn, grow and develop with the right mindset. Always challenge yourself, set yourself new goals and use setbacks as an opportunity for growth. There is always room for development and improvement. This will not only help you become the best version of yourself, but also increase your well-being.
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