Within the last decade or so, a new concept has arisen relating to how we perform at our jobs or how students function in school. This idea is known as a “growth mindset” and relates to our way of thinking. Whether or not you possess a growth mindset can influence all aspects of your life, from your education to your career and even your personal relationships.
What is it?
A growth mindset is the opposite of a fixed mindset. When you hold a fixed mindset, you believe certain traits in people are stagnant and cannot be changed or improved. It’s believing that “you either have it, or you don’t”. With a growth mindset, you realize that certain skills and characteristics can be made better and refined. You’ll face challenges head-on and be more open to criticism and advice on your work. You won’t balk at asking for help or collaborating with your co-workers. Those with a fixed mindset, generally look at their lives as a series of competitions, whether it’s with their colleagues, their peers, or their friends. It’s all about who can prove to be innately better at something, instead of looking for ways to improve the traits you already naturally have. Check out this chart to see different attributes of a fixed vs. a growth mindset.
How can it help?
When you have a growth mindset, you’ll very likely perform better in your job as well as in life in general. Instead of viewing life as a long of successes and failures while worrying a decision or risk could make you look bad, you’ll tackle challenges and projects with the attitude that you’re going to try your best, because even if it doesn’t go the way you anticipated, you’ll have learned something from the experience.
Research has shown that this difference between growth and fixed mindsets particularly affects students. It is common for young students to believe they are either intelligent or unintelligent and this belief affects their work accordingly. When a student believes he’s just not good at math, it causes him to not want to work as hard in the subject and instills a defeatist attitude in him, which results in lower scores no matter what he does. On the other hand, if that same student believes a bad grade in a math class doesn’t correlate to his natural abilities, he’ll be more likely to work harder on the next assignment or exam, which will result in a higher grade.
This same method works in your professional and personal lives. At work, instead of looking at projects and tasks as ways to continually prove how successful and smart you are, look at them as ways to create innovative ideas and solutions while collaborating with your co-workers. This method creates a more positive working environment and often produces better results for the company. Similarly, in your personal life, it’s important to view relationships as learning experiences, instead of situations where you must constantly prove to another person that you’re worth their time and attention.
How to get it
Unfortunately, a growth mindset isn’t something you can magically perfect over night. It’ll take effort to develop. Most people are a mix of growth and fixed mindsets, which may change day to day. Just remind yourself every day of the type of mindset you want to embody and what ways you wish to improve your personal outlook. There is no specific type of growth mindset that is superior to others, so just tailor your new mindset to what areas you need to improve. Your first step toward developing a growth mindset is being open to the idea that you won’timmediately have one!