Do you know how to grow?

By Jason Brennan, Director of Mental Health & Wellness, Videodoc - Wrkit

“Growth mindset” has become a buzzword in many major companies. However, while many of us have heard of the term, do we really understand what it means, and how it differs from a “fixed mindset”?

Dr Carol Dweck, first put forward these two theories in her best-selling book ‘Mindset: The new Psychology of Success’. Through her research with children and young people, Dr Dweck concluded that many of our beliefs stem from a type of thinking that can set in in early life. The growth and fixed concepts of mindset arose from the responses Dr Dweck received from these young people when they were faced with the various tasks, challenges and puzzles she put before them.

Some of these children, when faced with not being able to complete puzzle would get very upset, disappointed and often blamed themselves for not being good enough or able enough to have completed the challenge. While others would saviour the challenge, enjoy the difficulty in completing it and rejoice in both completing it or not. These children seemed to realise that they were learning more and more as they went along, and that the harder the puzzle was to complete, the more there was to learn - about the task, and about themselves.

Skipping forward in time, Dr Dweck also recognised that the same type of beliefs existed later in life. These beliefs can also be a precursor to indicate which individuals will go on to be really successful, and also indicate those who are less likely to reach their full potential.

For Dr Dweck, the Growth Mindset focuses on a couple of conclusions:

  • Challenges are good and can be embraced

  • Persist and learn in the face of setbacks

  • Putting in effort is worthwhile

  • Not giving up is the key that leads to mastery

  • Feedback is important and we can learn from criticism

  • We can learn from those who have been successful before us

Applying this mindset will lead to greater success and an overall desire to continue learning.

The Fixed Mindset in contrast is very different, with an alternate focus, believing that:

  • Challenges are difficult and often best to avoid – to save face

  • When faced with too many obstacles it is easiest to give up

  • Effort is fruitless and not a good idea

  • Negative or critical feedback is not good and should be ignored or avoided at all costs

  • Others are successful because they are made of different stuff and can even be a threat

  • Often there will be a pessimistic outlook

  • Learning is not always a good thing, especially if it leads to the risk of failure and embarrassment

Using the above to help we can begin to recognise these traits in ourselves. Do we sometimes flick back and forth depending on the challenge we are facing into? How do we go about allowing ourselves to learn new things? Do we always have an open growth mindset, or do we sometimes have a closed off or fixed mindset?

What then if we had a choice? Which mindset would we prefer to inhabit? Which mindset might feel better – more challenging, but better?

The reality is that we are and will always be faced with numerous challenges in life, some of them small, some of them very big and sometimes lots of them all at the same time.

When we feel out of our depth, as we all do at times - it is always good to simply slow down and check in with ourselves to see which mindset we are inhabiting in the moment. From there we can simply ask the question: What can I learn from this experience that will help me grow as a person, become wiser and less harsh on myself? How can I influence the present situation by adjusting my own mindset.

Blog post provided by Wrkit - The employee engagement platform: