The growth mindset

By December 3, 2015Personal health

I’m a big believer that most forms of intelligence can be learnt. We all have an innate level of ability, but our happiness and success in life depend much more on how much we grow than where we started. Practice is a simple and powerful tool that helps us get better at all tasks and for me self-reflection and a willingness to get stuck in are the other main weapons in the armoury (and both of these are learnt skills.) With work we can all get better at most anything – conversation, management, spreadsheets, public speaking, teaching, design – you name it.

I’m writing all this now because I’ve just read a post which brought a lot of clarity to my thinking in this area. In Growth Mindset: Clearing up some common confusions Eduardo Briceno makes the following helpful points:

  • The growth mindset is the belief that qualities can change and that we can develop our intelligence and abilities.
  • The opposite of having a growth mindset is having a fixed mindset, which is the belief that intelligence and abilities cannot be developed.
  • The reason that this definition of growth mindset is important is that research has shown that this specific belief leads people to take on challenges, work harder and more effectively, and persevere in the face of struggle
  • Fostering the growth mindset amongst our family, friends and colleagues should be one of our objectives – it will make them happier and more effective
  • There are two steps to fostering the growth mindset
    1. Praise effort rather than innate ability
    2. Encourage reflection on strategies and methods used

As with much good insight this thinking is counter-intuitive. Like many parents I am strongly drawn to the idea that my children might be talented and am prone to commenting and praising when I see positive signs. Eduardo’s article is a welcome reminder of how to stay focused on what works for them rather than what I want.