Cultivating a growth mindset

January 28, 2022

When you reflect on your skills and talents do you believe that they are something you were born with or that they can be improved through effort?

Consider the following…

  • are you innately good at maths?
  • are people born with a talent for music or sport?
  • is public speaking a gift?
  • do you think your choices have influenced your successes?
  • does life reward effort?

Your answer to these questions is a good indication of whether you have a fixed mindset or growth mindset.

If you believe you are able to overcome challenges and improve your abilities through effort and dedication then you have a growth mindset. If you struggle to persevere in the face of set-backs then it’s possible your mindset is fixed.

The influence of mindset

So why is this important?

When we believe we are born with or without certain capabilities it has a significant impact on how we approach obstacles (and opportunities) in our life . If we think our abilities are fixed there is little motivation to put effort into changing them. Similarly if we believe we are naturally talented at something why would we need to push ourselves?

Yet scientific research shows us that our abilities are not set in stone. We have the capacity to grow and develop throughout our lives and mindset plays a big part in determining whether we access this capacity.

As Carol Dweck found in her research into mindset, those who believe that they have the ability to enhance their capability with effort tend to be more resilient, persistent and ultimately more successful. Why? Because when they come up against hurdles they will attempt to overcome them. They see other people’s successes as inspiration and embrace change. They also believe that their decisions and actions are influencing their future.

Tips for cultivating a growth mindset

If you realise that you are holding yourself back, or that your mindset has a tendency to be rigid, there are things you can do to encourage greater flexibility.

1. Reframe challenges as opportunities

Quite often we learn the most from the set-backs and challenges we face. It’s not only our successes that teach us, quite often it’s our perceived failures. More importantly, just because something hasn’t worked out this time doesn’t mean it won’t next time. Take the learnings and apply them.

2. Get outside your comfort zone

We don’t learn by doing the same thing, it’s by pushing boundaries and challenging ourselves to stretch. If you feel like you are stagnating do one thing you know would be positive but scares you!

3. Remember your brain isn’t hardwired

We know a lot more about neuroplasticity now, and one thing science has taught us is that our brains are malleable. It’s not just a belief that we can grow our abilities – it’s a fact.

4. Embrace Change

When you are given the opportunity to do something new or different, take it. Sure, it might be daunting but it’s also a chance to learn and gain new perspective.

5. Remind yourself of past successes

Every single one of us has developed new abilities over our lives – otherwise we’d all be lying around in nappies being hand fed. From taking our first steps, to learning to run and ride bikes, we have pushed our boundaries and grown as a result. Sometimes though our self-belief falters and we stop pushing ourselves. If you are stuck remind yourself where you have taken on a challenge and succeeded in the past. You can do it again.

Final thoughts

The key thing to remember is that whether we are conscious of it or not our mindset is having a significant influence on our lives every single day. It can be the difference between happiness and sadness, triumph and failure, resilience and defeat. By simply taking the time to notice your thoughts you can start to build awareness of your mindset. And once you are aware you have the power to challenge yourself to grow.

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