Growth Mindset: 3 Ways to Develop this Essential Skill & Learn How to Accept Yourself
Sarah Mae (SMae) |
Understanding Growth Mindset is the Essential Skill students today are learning today that you missed out on when you were in school. With it, you can learn to accept yourself and feel confident – mistakes and all.
As a high school teacher, I’ve seen firsthand what a difference having a Growth Mindset vs. a Fixed Mindset makes. Students that believe that they can achieve ALWAYS get better grades than those who think they’re not smart enough.
I have also seen it in my own life. Understanding this essential skill is hands down the number one thing that got me on track to taking control of my life.
I hope it does the same for you!
Definition of a Growth Mindset
According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, a Growth Mindset is the understanding that your intelligence, skills, traits, and abilities can all be developed.
As Carol Dweck puts it, “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”
This flies in stark contrast to the way we usually talk to ourselves about what we can and can’t do…
Definition of a Fixed Mindset
A Fixed Mindset is a perception and belief that your intelligence, skills, traits, and abilities are fixed and you can’t change them. If you’re not already good at something, then you never will be.
Carol Dweck defines it this way: “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”
How many times have you told yourself, “I’m not smart enough“, or “I can’t do this“? Our Bully Brains tend to default to this way of thinking!
Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
When I first heard the term, “Growth Mindset”, I was certain I had this in spades. I’ve always been ambitious and believed that had a lot of confidence. However, when I read Dweck’s book Mindset, I was blown away by how little I’d actually fostered this Essential Skill in my life.
I realized that my confidence was only surface-level deep, and that ambition does not equal the belief that you can reach your goals.
Here are some beliefs about myself I realized I was holding onto:
- “I can’t draw”
- “I’m shy and can’t hold a conversation with others”
- “I’m not creative enough”
Moreover, I would watch other people do the things I wanted to do and subconsciously think that they just must be innately better than me. Whoa! Has that one ever held me back…
The important thing to understand is that you can have a Growth Mindset in some areas of your life while simultaneously having a fixed mindset in other areas, like your social life. For example, I always knew I was an amazing teacher, but always thought that I was terrible at asking questions.
This awareness alone has been one of my biggest drivers for success. When you know what you’re beliefs are about yourself, you can work to change those beliefs.
Can you think of some areas of your life where you have a Fixed Mindset?
Here are 3 strategies you can use to develop this Essential Skill:
1) View mistakes as opportunities
Having a growth mindset means seeking opportunities for self-improvement. Instead of thinking, “I give up” when you make a mistake or are faced with challenges, look for ways you can learn and try something different.
Babies are great at this. Watch them try to crawl or walk and you’ll see that when something doesn’t work the first time they think about it a bit, and try again. Moreover, you don’t sit there watching and think about all mistakes they are making, you marvel at watching them LEARN.
With this in mind, making “mistakes” becomes a thing of the past. It’s not a mistake, it’s LEARNING.
I like to encourage my students to “fail fast and try again”.
What are 1-2 things you’re going to try to fail at this week?
2) Embrace being a beginner
This was a big one for me. I spent YEARS trying new things and stopping because I wasn’t “good enough”, fast enough. Calligraphy, drawing, photography, graphic design… the list goes on.
The TRUTH is that you can’t get good at something without being a beginner first. Instead of “I can’t do this”, think “I don’t know how to do this YET”.
You see, we’ve had it all wrong all these years. There’s NO such thing as innate talent. If someone is “naturally good” at something, it’s because they have developed complementary skills through other things they have done.
What has helped me the most with this is acting. You cannot act if you do not trust the process of acting. It’s the first thing I ever did that made me stop and realize that to be good, I had to be willing to be bad first.
What’s something you’re gonna be really bad at this week?
3) Follow the research on brain plasticity
Brain plasticity, or neuroplasticity, is the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of learning and experience. We continue to have the ability to learn new skills and habits our whole lives!
This means your brain isn’t fixed, so your mind isn’t either!
Here is a good place to start: https://www.simplypsychology.org/brain-plasticity.html
To be honest, I’ve never had a voice in my head telling me that I am not good enough…
Yet. somehow I’ve been telling myself that for years. No voice in my head, I just thought it was the truth.
That is until I realized it was actually all my past bullies still holding power over me in my Bully Brain.
You see, I was heavily bullied from grade 5-9 and that’s when my Bully Brain took up shop in my head. It started absorbing everything bad everyone ever said about me, tricking me into thinking it was all true.
Perhaps you relate?
I know different now. I might not be good enough at something YET, but I can only get good by being willing to be terrible at first, keep going when I make mistakes, and understanding that our brains are freaking MAGIC, so we can learn anything!
Now that you know what a Growth Mindset vs. a Fixed Mindset is, you can start to cultivate a mindset that will support you in accepting who you are and creating the life you’ve always wanted.
You CAN do anything you put the EFFORT into doing.
Sometimes success is only a mindset shift away.
Interested in what other Essential Skills you likely didn’t learn in school? Check out last week’s Blog Post: How to get back on track with your life: 9 Essential skills not taught in schools.