Growth Mindset


This month I have been thinking a lot about the growth mindset and how often my thoughts focus more on my limitations and what I think I can’t do and less so on my potential and what I believe I can do. And, so many of my clients are in the same practice or shall I say “bad habit”. Why do we spend more time on what we “can’t do” and less on what we “may be able to do”? I am really not sure. Maybe because it is easier, because it keeps us stuck and comfortable, or it is simply a way we have leaned to be. Whatever the reason, I do believe it comes down to a conscious choice to have either a growth mindset or a fixed mindset and only we have the power to decide this!

The growth mindset is the willingness to put forth continual, purposeful effort. Intelligence and school success is not fixed. When you think you are stuck in your intelligence and limited, you are much less likely to grow and learn! The brain can (and does) change.

Success in school (and in life) is more likely contingent on the growth mindset including the attitude, effort, and positive expectations you have for your own success. The belief that you can do it and that your effort is what will lead to growth and success far exceeds intelligence and natural abilities.

The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset often focuses on labels and past experiences and outcomes, but not on potential and possibility. Labels can hold us back and prevent us from trying and learning new things. Labels and categories can keep us stuck in certain roles and ways of being. Fixed mindset can hold us back from flourishing and finding our true capabilities and talents. Fixed mindset also undermines the role of effort and attitude in the learning process. Often those with a fixed mindset don’t want to try for fear of making mistakes, failing, and looking badly, or not being “perfect”. Students with fixed mindset are usually more concerned with how they appear to others and what other people think of them.

What are the aspects of growth mindset?

  • Attitude – be willing and ready to try your best and expect the best from yourself. If your attitude is positive, you are more likely to feel encouraged and achieve positive results.
  • Effort – hard work is everything. Always put forth your “best efforts”, especially when things come easy to you. Continued and consistent hard work, along with focus, will reap many benefits. Don’t compare yourself to others but rather, go for personal best! Effort is far more beneficial than outcome and achievement.
  • Self-belief and self-efficacy – believe that you can succeed and you will. Believe that you are smart, you have the skills and abilities you need, you can ask for help if you need it, and you will be able to achieve what you want. Find the passion and intrinsic drive and motivation that helps you to believe in yourself. Know that your effort does matter and that your persistent effort can lead to success.
  • Positive self-talk – this is the difference maker in thinking, choices, and positive behaviours. “I can do it”, “I am trying my best” and “I will try and experience success” are phrases that can help you continue to put forth effort.
  • Getting feedback – feedback is how we grow; trial and error learning is the best way to learn and we learn more from our mistakes and “errors” than from our successes. Feedback can help us know exactly what is working and what we can improve on. Specific and timely feedback is very helpful in growing and learning.
  • Noticing and accepting your growth – when you take the time to reflect on what you notice about your own growth and when you write down specific ways you are growing, this can build your confidence, and help you embrace the changes you are experiencing. Attribute your success to: hard work, effort, level of commitment, resourcefulness, creativity, and practice.
  • Setting new goals – as you grow and become aware of your growth, learning, and change, it is important to set new goals so that you stay motivated and don’t fall into a “rut” where you are not growing or become stagnant or bored. Set goals and build on your successes!

What are the benefits of growth mindset?

  • Growing, learning, and improving at specific tasks/skills/activities
  • More likely to try and take risks
  • Boosts confidence and self-esteem
  • Motivates you to keep trying
  • Helps you to persevere when things get hard and you want to give up
  • Learn the habit/connection between effort and success
  • May feel empowered
  • May learn more and perform better
  • More likely to embrace challenges and truly enjoy the process of learning

So, if you want to grow, decide to grow. Spend time thinking about how you can grow and make this kind of thinking a daily habit and a way of being. Ask yourself, what you really want and the new skills you want to acquire, and take small steps to make your ideas a reality. It takes time, practice, and lots of patience with yourself. But, by focusing on your growth and how great you will feel as you grow, you are more likely to “get growing”.