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Growth Mindset: Building your Mindset Muscle

Growth mindset is one of the key differentiators between people who achieve their goals and those who don’t. Recognising a Growth mindset (and using it) dramatically impacts upon your performance whatever you do in life. Achieving your goals with a growth mindset is a lifelong habit worth investing your time in. But what is it and how exactly can you build your mindset muscle? We give you the lowdown.

Your IQ does not define you (phew!)

School. it seems almost everyone has a horror story or two to tell. Carol Dweck, renowned psychology professor at Stanford University and mindset expert, experienced a classroom situation as a child that was so profound, it influenced the direction of her career. Dweck’s teacher routinely seated children in her class according to IQ scores. Those with the lowest IQs were not trusted to carry the flag in assembly or even wash the blackboard. Dweck remembers,

“She let it be known that IQ for her was the ultimate measure of your intelligence and your character…”

This experience sparked Dweck’s life time fascination with intelligence. And why wouldn’t it? Dweck had noticed something about intelligence and success that was to set her on the road to defining mindset. Her best selling book, ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’, examines the theory that we all possess either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Which mindset you possess can have a profound affect on motivation to learn as well as your ability to set yourself and achieve challenging goals.

What is growth mindset?

Whereas a fixed mindset is a belief that our abilities and talents are fixed at a set point and cannot be changed, a growth mindset is the belief that abilities can be developed and that we are capable of improving all areas of our lives by developing our strengths. The good news is that you can develop a growth mindset approach (hooray for Dweck!).
Neurologist, Dr. Harry Chugani, uses the following analogy about learning and synaptic connections in the brain,

“Roads with the most traffic get widened. The ones that are rarely used fall into disrepair.”

Dweck conducted research over two years with New York City junior high school maths students. Dweck noticed a downward trend for students with a fixed mindset and an increase in results for those with a growth mindset.

An eight week intervention was then implemented for some students who were taught how they could learn to improve results by understanding that the more they used their brain the greater it’s capacity to learn would be. A control group was taught study skills but not Dweck’s theory about strengthening the brain. The students who learned about Dweck’s theory showed a significant inprovement in grades & study habits after only two months. Mindset was clearly powerful stuff.

The power of belief

Dweck attributed the improvement to a difference in motivation and the power of belief, the children who had learned growth mindset theory understood that they could have an impact on their mind. The students were energised by the thought that their efforts could make a difference to their abilities.

Whats more, researchers later asked teachers to pick students who had shown positive change. Although the teachers were unaware that there had been two groups, all the children they picked were from the growth mindset group. Deck’s research began life in education but soon spread to a multitude of spheres.

Mindset is now used worldwide in education, business, sports psychology and by individuals everywhere who want to improve their abilities and achieve their goals. Asking yourself how you can develop a growth mindset? Here are 4 steps to help you on your way.

4 steps to grow your mindset

The belief we hold about our own abilities and how this affects motivation is key to understanding how we can change. Dweck recommends 4 steps to increase self-belief and motivation and develop a growth mindset:

Step 1: Learn to hear your fixed mindset inner dialogue voice. “Maybe you don’t have the talent?”, “You’ll fail.”

Step 2: Recognise that you have a choice. Your response to challenges, setbacks & criticism is your choice.

Step 3: Talk back to it with a growth mindset voice. ”Most successful people had failures on their way,” “if I don’t try I automatically fail.”

Step 4: Choose to act with a growth mindset approach:

1) take on the challenge wholeheartedly

2) learn from your setbacks and try again

3) hear the criticism and choose a growth mindset response, your mindset is up to you.

To discover more:

    • to hear all about mindset and how you can develop it listen to our growth mindset podcast on iTunes
    • or listen to the show on Stitcher

Listen to Stitcher


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