Having a "growth mindset" has become something of a hot topic these days, but what does it really mean to have a growth mindset, and how can it help you reach your goals?
Defining the Term
A growth mindset is, in short, understanding that intelligence can improve - your intelligence is not necessarily "fixed". In other words, a person who says "I'm terrible at math" might be terrible at math, but if that same person thinks to themselves "I'm not good at math right now...I need to study more", it could be argued that the second statement is more in the growth mindset camp.
Originally, it was studied more in the education sector. Nowadays, this mindset has been adapted to the adult world, as well, and it has much the same meaning as it does for students.
What Does it Mean for You?
If you're reading this, you're probably no longer a middle or high-school student, but that doesn't mean you can't still benefit from a growth mindset!
If you understand that failures are a part of learning and that you can always grow your intelligence, you may be what's called a "lifelong learner". You may find value in learning for learning's sake - you may not need a particular outcome to happen (for instance, making money) in order to learn something new. This is the way in which a growth mindset can help you as an adult.
Can It Be Developed?
In short, yes, but one of the original researchers, Carol Dweck, has cautioned that it's not as simple to develop a growth mindset as it may seem. She notes that everyone has a mix of both fixed and growth mindsets - it's not really possible to have a growth mindset all of the time, and it may be counterproductive to try to hold yourself to such a standard.
Remember that progress and learning are a journey, and it may not come easily. If you can praise yourself for your efforts and perhaps re-strategize as necessary, it may help you in the long run. To learn more, you can check out her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
Gross-Loh, C. Don't Let Praise Become a Consolation Prize. Retrieved 16 June 2021, from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/12/how-praise-became-a-consolation-prize/510845/
Ng B. (2018). The Neuroscience of Growth Mindset and Intrinsic Motivation. Brain sciences, 8(2), 20. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci8020020
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