7 ways to develop a growth mindset
Newcastle Life Coach, Sam Hook, shares why having a ‘growth’ mindset could change your life.
Developing a growth mindset has many benefits.
Increasing your effectiveness at work, improving the quality of your relationships, to name a few, and generally maximising your potential in all areas of your life, to name them all.
We can have both a ‘fixed’ and a ‘growth’ mindset. These are a set of beliefs that shape how you make sense of the world and yourself, and these beliefs affect how you think, feel, and behave in any given situation.
WHICH GROWTH MINDSET DO YOU HAVE?
A ‘fixed’ mindset is when you believe that your qualities and abilities are fixed or static. You think that you’re either good at something or you’re not, which affects your intelligence, personality, abilities and morals.
This mindset doesn’t recognise effort, as you believe you either have the ability or you don’t. You’re fearful of trying and failing, and of being judged negatively, so you may be prone to giving up easily as you’ll think that if you don’t have the natural talent, why bother and expose yourself.
If you’re naturally talented at something and have a fixed mindset, you might tend to blame others or external events or circumstances if you fail, as you can’t bear the idea that it had something to do with you.
In contrast, when you have a ‘growth’ mindset, you’ll believe that your basic qualities and abilities are things that you can cultivate with effort, strategies and help from others. You consider your true potential to be unknown and so spend time getting better and improving yourself.
Having a growth mindset creates a passion for learning and the love of a challenge. You believe that your abilities and personal qualities can change and you aren’t afraid of failing, as you know that with training, perseverance and help you can achieve anything.
SO, WHERE DOES YOUR GROWTH MINDSET COME FROM?
Your mindset comes mostly from your environment – your upbringing, family, experiences and influences.
Humans are born with a love for learning – you just need to watch a baby trying to walk as evidence – but the fixed mindset, which can develop as we grow, can undo this and we can fall into a limited way of thinking.
CAN OUR MINDSET CHANGE?
Just as someone can grow and develop their intellect, a person is also capable of changing brain functions and their thinking patterns.
According to Dr Carol Dweck, who first identified fixed and growth mindsets and has published a book on the subject, you can change your mindset from a fixed mindset to one of growth.
Neuroscience shows us that the brain continues to develop and change, even as adults. The brain can be remoulded over time, as new neural pathways form. This has led scientists to identify the tendency of the brain to change through growth and reorganisation, terming the process ‘neuroplasticity’.
Studies have shown that the brain can grow new connections and strengthen existing ones, suggesting that a person with a fixed mindset can slowly develop a growth mindset.
7 STEPS TO DEVELOP YOUR GROWTH MINDSET
Realise that, scientifically, you can improve your mindset
One of the best ways to develop a growth mindset is by understanding that our brains are built to grow and learn. By challenging yourself with new experiences, you can strengthen neural connections to ‘rewire’ your brain which, in turn, can make you smarter. You have a choice of which mindset you are going to adopt.
Remove the ‘fixed mindset’ inner voice
We all have a negative inner voice that acts against a growth mindset. Be aware of what triggers your fixed mindset; the voice that says that you don’t have what it takes, you’re a failure, you’re struggling, you’re not the person you thought you were, give it up. Try to flip thoughts such as ‘I can’t do this’, to ‘I can do this if I keep practicing’, or even simply to ‘I can’t do this yet’, to nurture a growth mindset.
Reward effort and the process
Although society often rewards those who achieve excellent outcomes, this can work against a growth mindset. Instead, reward the way you have done something and the effort you’ve exerted.
Ask for feedback
Try and seek feedback, especially at work. When we’re provided with progressive feedback about what we do well and where we can improve, it creates motivation to keep going. Feedback is also associated with a pleasurable dopamine response and enhances a growth mindset.
Get out of your comfort zone
Being brave enough to leave your comfort zone can help foster a growth mindset. When faced with a challenge, try to choose the harder option that will allow you to grow as a person.
Accept failure as part of the process
Failure, setbacks, and initial confusion are all part of the learning process. When trying something new, see ‘failures’ as positive learning opportunities.
Be aware of when you’re judging yourself and others. Having a growth mindset can give you compassion, so don’t punish, write off or threaten yourself or others. Give yourself and others a chance to learn and grow.
It’s important to remember that we don’t just have a ‘fixed’ or a ‘growth’ mindset – we have both, and our mindset can change depending on what we’re doing. Letting go of a fixed mindset can take some time and practice, especially if people around you also have a fixed mindset. Strengthening your growth mindset is a gradual, life-long journey and can lead to you feeling more alive, courageous and open, so it’s well worth considering.
Sam Hook is a Life and Business coach at Uniquethinking and offers 1-to-1 and group coaching on confidence building and improving your mindset.