Growth Mindset

What Is A Growth Mindset? How It Works And Why You Should Try It

To be human is to grow. Challenges are an integral part of one’s life. How they navigate through it all is what makes them develop. Some might give up- believing that the challenges are too complex and difficult for them to deal with. But people with a growth mindset usually see it as the next mountain that they need to go through. 

What is Growth Mindset?

One can describe a Growth Mindset as a way of looking at setbacks and challenges. People who inculcate this mindset within themselves are of the opinion that even if they fail in a particular venture- or if they miss out on something because of a skill that they lack, it isn’t the end of the road. They believe that if they put in work, they would be able to improve their skills over time. A person with a growth mindset would readily tackle any problem- for they believe it to be the next level in their journey. 

The Origin Of Growth Mindset

The very concept of Growth Mindset came to being around three decades ago, when Dr. Carol Dweck, a neuroscientist, and her colleagues started finding interesting patterns in the attitudes that students displayed when they came across failure. After her team conducted tests and had a sample of over 1000 students, she coined the terms Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset- with regards to how students, and subsequently, other individuals viewed learning and intelligence. They realized that when students thought they could get smarter, it would show in their efforts. Therefore, they put in more time and effort- something that yielded better results. All these results, and more, are found in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”.

For those who are uninformed, a Mindset is simply a self-perception or theory that people have about themselves. But irrespective of how they see themselves, an individual could always be made aware of their potential- which in itself would mean a more concerted effort on improving their skill acquisition, personal relationships, and other facets of life. 

The Advantages Of A Growth Mindset

1. Looking at Challenges As Opportunities

If you see challenges as opportunities, you probably have a Growth Mindset- which is extremely helpful. For, nothing would deter you from taking a step, and improving yourself from all sides. You could always attack the challenge until you end up learning something new both about the challenge and about yourself. 

2. Develops Your Self Esteem

When someone has a Growth Mindset, they are able to truly envision who they are- they are well aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They are not completely invulnerable, and they know it. There are things that they cannot do- and they have accepted it. They are never hard on themselves for losing out in a particular field- for they will definitely work on it and improve themselves. 

3. Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism is quite important for someone who has a Growth Mindset. As it stands, this is not something others would be catering towards- humans, as a rule, don’t like criticism of any sort- where they might miss out on something. But a person with Growth Mindset is secure in themselves- so they would have no problems with anyone or anything giving them constructive criticism. 

5. There Are No Limitations

For someone with a Growth Mindset, the sky’s the limit. They wouldn’t have to limit themselves to anything- be it a particular skill that they don’t know- or a particular job that they don’t have the necessary qualification for. They would strive hard to achieve what is needed, and would not accept defeat.

Examples Of Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset examples come in various ways. But usually, it implies a particular affirmation or a rule that individuals have ingrained within themselves- so that they don’t end up being entirely defeated and disappointed. 

  1. If one’s office manager screams at them, it would be better to not take offense to it- but rather get better at the job. 
  2. If one is going through a job or a process- it is not important to just find success. In fact, looking at it from the perspective of success can often lead to failures and consequently, disappointment. One would be better suited to look at it as research. They could gather insights from their actions- which would help them improve in the future. 
  3. There is literally no age at which people can’t learn. Learning comes from desire- and the only thing that prevents people from learning something is their own hearts preventing them from doing so. There are several news articles that would show an adult going back to college to get that degree that they always coveted. John Basinger, at the age of 58, learned Paradise Lost by heart- a poem that has over 60,000 words. 
  4. Not giving up at the first sign of adversity is a big indication that you display a growth mindset. In fact, you would rather put more effort into understanding and developing something- for it will give you a platform to stand on. 
  5. Results don’t make a man. The teachings and learnings over the course of the journey are what create a man. You will get results for your actions, but that shouldn’t be the be-all or end-all for your journey. 

What Is Growth Vs Fixed Mindset?

Differences between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset
Fixed Mindset VS Growth Mindset : Differences between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset

According to Sam Laura Brown, a mindset coach, the difference between Growth and Fixed mindset is pretty distinct. She states, “Someone with a growth mindset believes that their talents, intelligence, and abilities can be developed with effort. Someone with a fixed mindset believes that their talents, intelligence, and abilities are fixed and that effort is, therefore, a sign of inadequacy.” It should come as no surprise to someone that being in possession of a fixed mindset would hold one back from reaching their truest potential. On the other hand, if they were to truly embrace a growth mindset- it would lead to greater success, as well as happiness. 

One of the key differences between a growth and a fixed mindset is that the former would always be focused on effort and development. A person with a fixed mindset would be glad with just the credentials that they have. Brown says, “Another subtle way someone might be in a fixed mindset is when they pride themselves, or compliment others, on being a ‘natural’ talent. As a society, we tend to praise others for their ‘natural’ abilities and yet this only perpetuates the fixed mindset. People in a growth mindset pride themselves on their ability to learn and grow, to be courageous and to be resourceful.”

Another difference that should be pondered upon is that people who have a growth mindset usually love to go through new and interesting things and challenges. It doesn’t matter to them if they don’t achieve success in it- they do it because it helps them learn a particular trade that they didn’t know about previously. But people with a fixed mindset would rather do things where they are assured of a result. They crave success, and it doesn’t make a difference to them if they learn something from it or not. 

Finally, another difference between the two mindsets would be that people with a growth mindset covet some form of feedback. But people with a fixed mindset would rather bury their hands in the sand and relish past glories. 

Myths About Growth Mindset

1. Making Mistakes Are A Big Problem

Absolutely not. Mistakes are the stepping stones to discovery. You aren’t perfect, are you? But remember, you will take away certain learnings- which is more important. 

2. Ever Positive

The world doesn’t run on optimism- but rather on practicality. Being a person with a growth mindset doesn’t mean that they are forever being optimistic about their chances, and believing in their own invulnerability. Rather, it means understanding where one’s limitations lie. Only when one is honest with oneself, are they able to develop. 

3. Success Doesn’t Matter At All

Polarizing views have no place in one’s growth mindset. Just because success takes a back seat to development doesn’t mean there is no importance to success. At the end of the day, we are human and we desire some achievement and some amount of recognition- something which we will get only when we are able to bring in a balance between development, and success. 

Developing A Growth Mindset

How to develop a growth mindset
How to develop a growth mindset

There are a few ways through which you can develop a growth mindset.

  1. First, what sort of mindset do you have? How do you see challenges? Do you want to shirk away from them? Or do you like to face them headlong? If you are able to identify which mindset you belong to, you would be able to make the shift accordingly. 
  2. Next, why is a growth mindset so important for you? Are you in limbo, and life is quite stagnant? Or do you see yourself at quite a distance from your true potential? There are certain difficult questions that you will need to ask yourself- questions that will help you understand the next step toward this mindset. 
  3. Don’t be too harsh on yourself for your mistakes- for you are only human. Try to identify your mistakes, and chart possible points where you could have evaded them. Also, make a note of your achievements, so that you can gauge your development. 
  4. Don’t look at failure as an inability, for it is not. Rather, see failure as an integral process of your education. You can’t expect to be perfect at every point in time, and you will fail someday or the other. Don’t get beaten down- learn from your mistakes. 
  5. If you truly want to try a growth mindset, set goals that you can realistically achieve. If you set such goals, you will find the necessary motivation to achieve them. 

Growth Mindset FAQs

1. How Far Will I Need To Push Myself To Reach A Growth Mindset?

You can’t have a growth mindset if you are not willing to grow. And for that, you will have to step out of your comfort zone. But, the step should be small, and should not hamper or press upon your well-being. Make the leap when you are comfortable, and strive on. 

2. How Should I Deal With New Challenges Everyday?

See them as steps to your journey. Every challenge will teach you something now- all you need to do is open up to it and learn. Are you willing to do that?

3. Is a Growth Mindset A Skill?

Even though it’s fundamentally a psychological habit, it can be considered a skill in today’s world. In fact, it is one of the most desired soft skills in everyday life!

Failure doesn’t mean the end of things. A Growth mindset is about learning from your experiences and applying it in your own life. So, how far are you willing to learn? Write to us in the comments below!

Read more: Mindfulness Meditation: A Complete Guide to Self-Awareness


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Growth Mindset
Growth Mindset