Active learning, hard work and valuable feedback can change our brains—literally. Our intelligence is malleable and when you give your brain the opportunity to learn new skills, new neural pathways can develop.
It’s these pathways that allow you to develop new habits, broaden and sharpen your skill sets and develop better mental resilience.
A growth mindset is all about using opportunities of learning and self-development to overcome new challenges and try new things. And, the best part? With time and patience, anyone can develop a growth mindset.
Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset
A fixed mindset is often considered to be the opposite of a growth mindset.
People with a fixed mindset often have a laser-focus on the outcome of situations, rather than the journey. They’re likely rooted in the belief that talents and abilities are innate, and adopt the “you either have it, or you don't” mentality.
Over time, this thought pattern can have detrimental effects on people’s overall wellbeing by hindering self growth and encouraging self-deprecating language, causing higher levels of stress.
According to Dweck (2015), this mindset places people in the belief that there’s little to no chance of improvement, causing stagnancy and, ultimately, lower wellbeing.
A growth mindset, on the other hand, chooses to actively engage with learning opportunities and outside feedback. This mindset focuses on the reality that with resilience, hardwork and curiosity, you can approach issues and change with a more resilient, open mind.
The Benefits of a Growth Mindset
Research across psychology, wellbeing, learning and business management has found a broad range of benefits linked to leading with a growth mindset.
- Failures become learning opportunities for your team
- You become more confident in your abilities and stop seeking approval from your superiors
- You use criticism as a map to help figure out what you need to improve on to be better at your job
- You experience higher self-efficacy is higher
- You’re more likely to take control of your physical and mental health
- You find it easier to bounce back and move on from negative situations
- You become a more engaged learner
- Lower-performing students experience improved grades
- A more positive mindset towards academics will develop
Socially and Emotionally
- You experience lower levels of social stress and anxiety
- Collaborating with others becomes a more significant part of your life
- You become more understanding and empathetic to others
Qualities of a growth mindset
A growth mindset is multifaceted and requires numerous interpersonal skills and qualities.
In her research, Dweck often emphasises how these qualities are what promote growth. It’s these qualities that we need to be able to rely on when faced with fixed mindset triggers like criticism or unfair comparison. These qualities include:
- Open and receptive to feedback and constructive criticism
- A willingness to collaborate and acknowledge different point of views
- The drive to seek out and reflect upon learning opportunities
- Consistently putting in the effort to embrace the above
Developing your growth mindset
With time and mental discipline, you can develop a growth mindset. Some habits may be harder to shift than others, however, according to Dweck (2015), consistency is key.
1. Change your language
The language you use when faced with a challenge greatly affects how your brain will tackle that challenge. Negative language like “I’ll never be able to do that,” stalls information processing and can increase stress responses in the body. This causes the challenge to seem too big and complex for you to tackle, leading to stagnancy.
Using positive language and praise when faced with a challenge, however, can improve wellbeing, self-confidence and better information processing. Ultimately, this helps strengthen our mental fitness and resilience.
2. Let go of perfectionism
Perfectionism alludes to the habit of holding yourself to an excessively high standard, and is often paired with overly critical self-talk. When we allow perfectionism to creep in, we often become easily frustrated when certain things don’t go our way from the beginning.
Dweck (2015) states that when we only focus on our abilities in the “now” we completely cut off the possibility of our skills in the “yet”. Instead, when we focus on information processing and problem solving with patience, hard work and learning, we experience steep skill and knowledge development.
3. Emphasise the learning journey
Intelligence is malleable and a curiosity for learning is essential for forming new neural pathways and expanding your intelligence. This is why, even when our hunger for learning diminishes, we persist in reflecting on how things work and why—developing our skills and knowledge even further.
4. Leave your ego at the door
Realising that your current abilities and knowledge are not adequate for the ahead challenge is sometimes a tough pill to swallow. In a fixed mindset, it leads us to quickly giving up and feeling bad or bitter for doing so.
A growth mindset demands humility and the acknowledgement that your current abilities may need some development to properly address your new hurdle. Once you’ve checked your ego at the hypothetical door, however, this becomes infinitely easier.
It takes time and patience, but developing a growth mindset will greatly impact your overall wellbeing. From lowered stress to raised self-confidence, you’ll start to approach situations with a healthy problem-solving attitude, rather than one of dread.
A growth mindset is not the only tool in your arsenal that you can develop to improve and support your wellbeing. Learn more about the skills you can build to make your mental fitness bulletproof.