In this ever-changing world, having a “growth mindset” vs. a “fixed mindset” is so important. But what exactly is a growth mindset and why is it so important? The term, “growth mindset” was made popular by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck. In her research, she found that people who believed that anything can be developed (growth mindset) compared to those who believe that you need a special gifting (fix mindset) will end up accomplishing and achieving more.
Therefore, the kind of mindset you have will determine how successful you will be in life. If a person focuses on the failure, the results or outcome, rather than the effort, the development of a skill or the value of the experience, then they will feel stuck. In fact, they will struggle when they face challenges or a difficult situation. But those that have a growth mindset will thrive, as they see the challenge as an avenue for growth and development.
This is such an enormous issue, here in Asia because so many people have been raised up with a fixed mindset. It is all about the outcome. Your worth and value are placed on the results. This is why when we “do well” (results), then we find greater significance in who we are, but if we fail, we feel as if we are a “failure” (identity based on outcome). Maybe this is why there seems to be a greater proportion of people who struggle with perfectionism and the fear of failure in Asia, than in other parts of the world.
But there is hope, as things can change. The beauty of a growth mindset is that it fuels the love for learning and produces a “grit” or a resilient attitude, which are critical in accomplishing great things, rather than being devasted by setbacks. There is a clear divide. We are either growing or we are being stunted in our growth.
It all starts in the mind and the way we view ourselves and the things around us. Carol Dweck said, “For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”
Here are 6 skills (GROWTH) to develop in order to have a growth mindset:
- G – GAUGE yourself properly. Without a proper evaluation of ourselves, we will not be able to move forward. We need to see the false beliefs or strongholds that push us back from growing. It helps to reflect and see if there were experiences or things that impacted us in a negative way. Also, it helps to assess the kind of mindset we have when it comes to the challenges in our lives. Are you more negative and pessimistic? Or are you hopeful that change can occur?
Next step: As you reflect on your life, write down significant moments that impacted you in a negative way. Answer this question: How did this experience affect the way I view myself and the situation around me?
- R – REMEMBER incremental steps. The reason why so many people give up and get discouraged when it comes to growing or developing in something is because they only think about the outcome or the results. We have to change our mindset and see the incremental steps that we are taking or the advancements that we are making. If we can see that we are getting better or that we are making incremental progress, then it will be easier for us to keep going. Don’t eat the whole cake in one bite!
Next step: Keep a journal of the progress that you are making in a specific skill or goal and don’t forget to write down the date. For example, if you want to read 5 books in a year, then figure out how many pages you want to read in a day or a week. Then when you finish, write down the date. You can look at the dates and see the progress.
- O – OBSERVE your language. Many of us don’t realize the power of words. When we think about the words that we say throughout the day, we will realize that it really does affect our attitude and our behavior. It all starts in our mind and the thoughts that feed the fixed mindset. When we say phrases like, “I can’t do this” or “I’m not good at this,” it will lock you in and you will feel stuck. Therefore, learn to add one more word at the end of the sentence and that word is, “yet.” So, it will be “I can’t do this YET” or “I’m not good at this YET.” In this way, it will help improve your mindset to think of things as a learning process and that there is room for development.
Next step: Invite several people who are in your context to help you catch negative words that come out of your mouth. Also, practicing adding the word, “yet” in all your negative sentences.
- W – WIDEN your perspective. It is easy to forget that we are finite in our knowledge. This is why we must be humble and learn how to widen our perspective in life. Too often, we find ourselves seeing a situation from just one side, rather than looking at it from other angles. How often have you found yourself making a bad decision or coming to the wrong conclusion because you had a limited perspective on things? We need to see our circumstances from multiple angles, so that we can develop a growth mindset. Don’t get stuck with a certain view of things without pulling back and examining it from a different perspective or outlook. With every negative aspect of a situation, there is some positive quality. Find those things and keep stretching your mindset.
Next step: Try to get good counsel from people who are more experienced and seasoned and ask them to give their perspective on the situation. You will definitely grow through it.
- T – TAKE on new challenges. When you only do things that are “doable” or within your control, then you will not grow. It is vital to the development of a growth mindset to take on new challenges. Too often, we don’t do things where we have a fear of failure or if we think that something is too hard. But it is in those circumstances that will jolt us into greater growth and development. We begin to discover new passions. We begin to see that we are able to accomplish more than we have ever imagined. Therefore, raise your hand and try to answer the question. Be proactive and volunteer for things. Don’t be static, but keep learning and growing.
Next step: Ask yourself: “Is there something that I don’t know how to do, but I would love to give it a try?” Whatever it is, don’t just sit there, get going and try it.
- H – HUNGER for improvement. Don’t be satisfied with where you are. Continue to hunger for growth and go through the learning process. This will take some commitment on your part, but when you are resolved in getting better, it will fuel a greater hunger for growth. You can grow in your hunger for improvement by: asking more questions, remaining curious as you learn, being relentless in asking people for feedback, and sharing with others the things that you are learning.
Next step: Find a few things that you are decent in doing and then try to improve on it. Never settle nor be satisfied with where you are.