Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck defines a growth mindset as the belief that one has the ability to learn and grow. Dweck writes in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, “This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts… [that] everyone can change and grow through application and experience.” Those who possess a growth mindset essentially believe that through hard work, good strategies, and input from others, their talents can be developed. So how does one practically go about cultivating such a mindset?
- Embrace Mistakes as Learning Opportunities
Many people view mistakes as failures, but a key to developing a growth mindset is reframing mistakes as vital opportunities to learn and grow. While making mistakes isn’t necessarily fun, it offers us a chance to assess where we went wrong and how we could have done better. We are provided with valuable knowledge and tools that can later be used and implemented to achieve a more favorable outcome. If we redefine failure as simply an alternate route to success, we remove the fear of failure and embrace the chance to acquire key data that will help us thrive later. Thus, failures stop being things we have to be embarrassed about and instead can be things we accept and even are proud of because they assist us in our growth and development.
- Stop Seeking the Approval of Others
When we seek the approval of others it fosters a sense of perfectionism that we feel is needed to obtain acceptance. In striving to be perfect we miss out on crucial chances to acquire new skills. Our focus becomes getting things right versus taking advantage of opportunities to learn and advance. When we strive for self-acceptance, we remove the weight of perfectionism because we recognize that we only need to please ourselves. This then allows us the freedom to transform our idea of success to one that includes room for mistakes because we recognize that making mistakes equals learning opportunities.
- Embrace Criticism and Critiques
Constructive criticism and critiques from others are not the enemies, and should not be seen as personal attacks. Rather, they should be viewed as opportunities to learn more about ourselves and our habits and thus, opportunities to improve and develop. Being open to the perspectives and suggestions of others makes us aware of potential pitfalls or flaws that can be improved upon. Thus, to foster a growth mindset, criticism should never be taken personally and instead should be used in one’s process of self-reflection and self-analysis.
- Value the Process Over the Outcome
Typically, people prioritize the final outcome over the process taken to get to the end goal. Yet, one major aspect of those with a growth mindset is the value they place on the process more than the end goal. Those with a growth mindset understand that there are valuable lessons to be learned as one takes steps towards the end goal that can lead to the learning of new skills and knowledge.
- Be Willing to Take Risks
Generally, people avoid risks because they are fearful of a negative outcome. However, taking risks can present crucial opportunities for learning and growth. Instead of looking at risks as scary unknowns, the aim should be to view them as the potential springs of knowledge. Since risks often include stepping into unknown territory without complete understanding, taking risks create amazing opportunities to develop skills and knowledge you previously did not have.
Ultimately, the keys to developing a growth mindset involve changing our thought process and approach to learning and gaining knowledge. When we shift our thinking to the belief that life is full of opportunities to develop new skills and enhance our own abilities, we will embrace challenges and seek out experiences that allow us to do just that. A mind that believes its learning potential is essentially unlimited is a mind that will never stop learning.