A growth mindset

Jun 11, 2024

A growth mindset has become such a buzzword, and it refers to a belief that abilities, talents, and intelligence can be developed through efforts, learning, and persistence. Life is never easy and smooth, but people with a growth mindset will always see mistakes and setbacks as the opportunities to learn and grow accordingly.

Carol Dweck, a psychologist and a researcher at Stanford University, was interested in students’ attitudes about failures, and started exploring the connections between mindset and achievement over 30 years ago. She identified two mindsets: the fixed and the growth mindsets. In 2006, she published her book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” and the concept of the growth mindset was then introduced to a wider audience, including the workplace.

Characteristics and benefits of a growth mindset

  • Learning: whether it’s learning from mistakes or learning new knowledge or skills, growth minded people have a genuine interest to learn more. They believe that their basic qualities can be developed through effort.

  • Embracing challenges and setbacks: no one proactively welcomes challenges, but people with a growth mindset see challenges, setbacks, or even failures as part of the success process. They embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and learning.

  • Feedback and constructive criticism: a growth mindset enables people to appreciate feedback and constructive criticism as valuable insight to help their growth instead of taking them personally.

  • Effort and attitude: people believe that hard work, effort, dedication, persistence, positivity, and optimism help overcome obstacles and contribute to future successes.

  • Inspiration: people with a growth mindset not only encourage and support others to grow, but they also get inspired and motivated by others’ achievements

Based on the mentioned characteristics above, people with a growth mindset tend to be more open minded, resilient, and persistent when facing challenges and obstacles. The fact that they see those challenges as opportunities to learn, improve, and grow helps them lower their stress and anxiety and at the same time, foster their ability for further personal and professional development. As a result, they tend to have higher confidence, be more willing to take risks and open to new experiences, enjoy better relationships with others, and ultimately celebrate higher achievements and fulfillment in life.

How to foster a growth mindset

Whether you are a student, professional, or business owner, cultivating a growth mindset is crucial. Scientific research supports the benefits of a growth mindset, showing how it can lead to personal and professional development. It is also important to maintain a positive mindset during this process to overcome challenges effectively. Now, let’s look at a few ways to nurture such mindset in you.

The power of ‘Yet”

Dr. Dweck said, “…If you fail, you are nowhere. But if you get the grade ‘not yet,’ you are on a learning curve. ‘Not yet’ gave you a path into the future.”

Challenges, difficulties, setbacks, or failures simply mean “not yet” and provide opportunities to learn and improve. These setbacks are just the starting point for growth and development. So next time, when you tell yourself that “I can’t do this,” add a “yet” to the sentence, “I can’t do this yet.” I am confident the power of “yet” will help you see challenges and failures completely different and encourage you forward.

Praise wisely

Instead of praising your existing merits and abilities, acknowledge and praise your engagement, hard work, and perseverance. Although people may differ in their initial talents and aptitudes, everyone can change and grow through effort and experience. By doing so, you will gain greater confidence and resilience in you which in return will help you continue this path of growth.

Make conscious change

It’s about knowing and believing that your abilities could grow through your hard work and resilience. Research shows that pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to learn something really hard and sticking to it over time will actually make you smarter.

While a fixed mindset leads to the belief that basic abilities are innate and unchangeable, throwing away your negative or fixed mindset and replacing it with a growth mindset is a choice you make for yourself.

Set and celebrate incremental growth goals

Rome was not built in a day, neither is the muscle of your growth mindset. Set incremental and step-by-step goals focusing on your personal development and progress, and remember to check on and acknowledge your progress, and celebrate each step along the way. Even the most basic characteristics, such as intelligence, personality, and character, can be developed through effort.

Be curious, be kind, and embrace challenges

Make an effort to grow by being curious to the unfamiliar, don’t be shy about asking questions, and put yourself in others’ shoes by looking at things from different angles and exploring opposite perspectives. Stretch yourself with tasks that may require effort, resilience, new skills, new knowledge, or new approaches, but always remember to be kind and gracious toward yourself, especially be patient during your learning process. Cultivating a growth mindset can significantly boost your confidence and self-esteem, contributing to your overall well-being.

Surround yourself with the right people

Change isn’t easy, and you don’t need any nay sayers along your process of growth. On the contrary, you want to walk the journey with like-minded people who not only will encourage and support you, but they will also share the same desire to be inspired and grow themselves with you. This can be a mentor, a peer, or a coach like me whom you feel comfortable and can be honest to share your excitement, struggles, and successes. For a young person, having the right mentorship and support is crucial in developing a growth mindset. Having the right people on your court will continue to inspire you to take steps for future growth and improvement.

The growth mindset research started in a classroom setting; however, the power of a growth mindset is a transformative process to all those who want to be empowered to live their full potential and achieve higher successes in life. Who would you rather hire, a growth or a fixe mindset candidate, for your department or organization? I sincerely hope you choose to model after a growth mindset, see challenges and setbacks with a new perspective, be motivated and resilient, celebrate each learning process, and thrive and succeed in this fast-paced world we are in.


Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

About Faye Weng

Your Online Life and Career Coach

Faye Weng is an expert life and career coach who works with clients to take back control of their lives by rediscovering their passions, living/working with a clear purpose, and becoming people who can positively impact the communities around them. As your life and career coach, Faye will help you minimize noises and distractions, focus your effort and attention on the right things, execute a clear plan of action, and celebrate alongside of you when each milestone is reached. Click here to book a complimentary session.