THE BLOG
01/19/2017 12:23 pm ET Updated Jan 19, 2018

Embarking 2017 with a Growth Mindset

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You may well have heard the terms a 'Growth' and 'Fixed' Mindset which have been attributed to the work and research of Stanford University psychologist Dr Carol Dweck. In the last couple of years, they have been popularised with the abundance of neuroplasticity evidence supporting them.

In short summary from my learning, here are a few of the characteristics of a person with a Growth and Fixed Mindset. To assess where you naturally fit on the Growth-Fixed mindset spectrum try this short quiz.

Growth Mindset to Fixed Mindset
  • Lover of learning - Likes to look good
  • Embraces challenges - Stays in comfort zone
  • Intelligence can grow - Intelligence is innate
  • Talents and abilities can be learnt through effort - Talents and abilities are set

To get a quick snapshot from Carol herself I recommend watching this 10 minute TED Talk. For those interested in a more in depth account, check out Carol's book: 'Mindset - The New Psychology of Success.'

So are we born with a Growth or a Fixed Mindset which is then set in stone?

The good news is no, Carol's work supports a Fixed-Growth mindset continuum which we fluctuate along. Through practice and being mindful we can choose to take a more Growth Minded approach to life.

One thing I found interesting from a recent seminar I attended at the Golden Door Health Retreat is that we may have a Growth Mindset in some areas of our lives and not others. For instance when the group were asked who can't sing, there were quite a numbers of hands that went up. Upon then asking about other things like dancing, writing, drawing, mathematical problems, public speaking, everyone had a Fixed Mindset belief about something they 'couldn't do'. To help challenge this, the next evening a lady called Lulu ran a session called the 'Power of Sound' and had everyone singing - people were inspired.

Growth Mindset Examples

We sometimes look at masters of a talent like an elite golfer, yoga teacher or public speaker and think why can't we be like that? Almost instantly wishing it was a natural ability. The truth is we can but it takes effort and 1000's of hours of practice. Our seminar facilitator Justin Robinson shared people's true potential is unknown and it's impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil and training.

In Justin's seminar, we exchanged Growth Mindset stories reflecting on the question 'What is an area you / another had low performance in that then dramatically improved?'. The example that came to me was ocean swimming. When my husband Owain and I immigrated to Australia 5 and a half years ago, I could barely swim freestyle and Owain would describe himself as very average. Through effort and focus we persisted and he is now a competitive age group swimmer having recently won his age-group at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and I managed to swim 3.8km at Ironman Port Macquarie in 2014 comfortably. In the words of Ironman 'Anything is possible' and Justin 'Be prepared to be surprised.'

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Adopting a Growth Mindset in Education and Corporations

Developing a Growth Mindset may be the new black like mindfulness last year, yet I feel like mindfulness it's a trend well worth embracing for the long term. I'm inspired to see many school and organisations facilitating the fostering of a Growth Mindset.

The school my sister teaches at in the UK is one of these. She shared one of her favourite classroom mantras for children is "You don't know the answer yet". Justin passed on an anecdote from Carol Dweck's school research which I loved. If a child gets 20/20 in a test the response was "I'm sorry I didn't give you the opportunity to learn anything."
Many organisations including Microsoft are looking to implement a Growth Mindset in their culture and I'm excited to see what cultures are like when those learning this approach in school enter the workforce.

Some tips to kickstart 2017 with a Growth Mindset:

  • Try something new (like brushing your teeth with the opposite hand) and repeat it everyday for a month - you may be surprised by the progression
  • Share Growth Mindset stories with family, friends and colleagues
  • If you're a left brain thinker look into the neuroplasticity behind this - a good starting point Justin recommended is Dr Norman Doidge - The Brain that Changes Itself
  • When learning something new think 'I don't know the answer... Yet'
  • Try praising others for their effort versus saying an absolute like 'you are smart'

Do you have a Growth Mindset story that you'd like to share? Would love to hear some other examples.

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Originally published at: https://danimatthews.com