To answer the question what is a growth mindset, we must first answer the question, ‘What is mindset?’ Next, understand what is a growth mindset or in my world, a Mindset for Success? I wrote extensively about what is a Mindset for Success in a previous article. Simply stated, a mindset is a set of attitudes or fixed ideas that someone has. It is the sum of beliefs, opinions, and thoughts that we’ve formed about the world and ourselves. Our education, religion, upbringing, and experience shape our beliefs and thoughts. It’s the lens through which we observe our world.
In addition, some people have a natural tendency to see the good and positives in life, while others have a tendency to see the negative or worst-case scenarios. A generally negative mindset keeps you further away from achieving your goals and living your best life. Embracing a positive, mindset is important because without one you are unlikely to achieve your goals or fully realise your potential. Furthermore, we have seen how a mindset spreads between people in a group and influences the entire group’s outlook. In psychology, this is called groupthink. How much better is it to spread a positive mindset?
Change your mind transform your life
‘The mind is everything. What you think you become.’ Buddha
Your mindset shapes your relationship with the world and with yourself. It predetermines your interpretations and responses to your experiences. If you aren’t getting the results you want, start to question your strongly held assumptions. Creatively choose more positive meanings for your experiences. Most of all, ask yourself how can you learn and grow from this event? Moreover, embrace a growth mindset and commit to a mindset for your success.
‘If you can change your mind you can change your life.’ William James
As your Mindset is made up of what you think, your beliefs, values and interpretations, beliefs are a critical part of the mindset. In recent years, Carol Dweck has popularised the term Growth Mindset with her book, ‘Mindset, The New Psychology of Success’. In the book, she explains how a fixed mindset is a belief that our qualities are fixed traits that we cannot change. People who have this type of mindset believe that talent alone leads to success.
A Growth Mindset, conversely, is believing that our intelligence can grow with time and experience. From her research, she describes the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. When students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. Moreover, this means they generally put in extra time and effort. And of course, this leads to higher achievement.
Embracing a Growth Mindset is similar to a Mindset for Success.
A mindset for success is focused on growth and expansion, while the opposite is rigid and fixed. Both are critical for achieving goals and dreams. Here is what is required.
- Decide what you want to change
- Commit and establish a course of action
- Set small steps and take them consistently
- Be open-minded and prepared to alter course if required
- Keep disciplined and take necessary
- Create habits of excellence, the foundation of success
- Believe you can
- Guard your thinking
- Show compassion to yourself and others
- Keep a positive and solution-focused attitude
- Commit to keeping learning
So why do so many people fail in their quest to achieve goals?
Now while all this sounds easy, we do have to question why so many people fail in their pursuit of goals? Why is it that knowing the above doesn’t always give us the success we want?
Importantly, part of this is because you have two parts to your mind. A conscious and a subconscious mind. The conscious part is where you set your goals, whereas the subconscious part is the part that actually runs your life. It is a million times more powerful than your conscious mind. Moreover, it is where your habits reside, your memories, beliefs and unresolved emotions. It is often the underlying reason why we don’t do the things we know we should.
So when we ask the question of what is a growth mindset, it is important that to fully realise ours, we focus on understanding and programming our subconscious mind with clear instructions. Furthermore, we continue to question our habitual patterns of thought and behaviour.
Here are five additional steps for building your growth mindset
1. Choose to observe your self-talk. Additionally, whenever you hear yourself berating yourself or focusing on what you don’t want, stop. Make a decision to change it. Focus on what you want instead, and always remember, your words have immense power. Next, question your beliefs. Finally, remember the basis of Carol Dweck’s findings. Beliefs were the major influencing of a growth or fixed mindset.
Your brain works hard to ensure it only lets in information that matches what you currently believe. If you believe you are not smart enough for a job promotion, guess what. You probably won’t get one. You may find yourself performing badly, getting stuck in nerves or unconsciously sabotaging an interview. We have a confirmation bias which is the tendency to embrace information that supports our belief.
2. Give up the need to be right. Wanting to be right means you may reject facts that could question your views or allow you to see things differently. Having fixed opinions and beliefs is a sure way to keep your mindset fixed and stagnant.
Start with the end in mind
3. A growth mindset includes a focus on setting goals and creating a plan. Reverse engineering your plan can be helpful. In the classic book, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey states, ‘The ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes.’ By visualising it as it if had happened, you are first creating it in your mind. And in the words of Einstein,
4. Next, work on sticking with your behaviours until they become habits. Habits are the foundation of all success. Furthermore, small steps are the way to achieving great results. Creating a habit plan is super helpful here.
“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” F.M Alexander
5. Focus on incremental improvement. A great example of both incremental improvements and foundational habits, especially consistency, is the phenomenal success of Team Sky and David Brailsford’s philosophy of the aggregate of marginal gains. David looked at every aspect of the team. The bike setups, the food they ate, beds they slept in, massage oils and sleep patterns. Every aspect of life on the tour.
Furthermore, he made small incremental changes across numerous areas and ensured standards were consistent throughout. Ultimately, Team Sky won the Tour de France and dominated the cycling arena in the 2012 Olympic games year. Brailsford definitely had a 100% commitment to a growth mindset for success
In a future article, I will address the role of a mindset coach in helping you create a Mindset for Success and being able to answer exactly what is a growth mindset and how can you ensure you create yours.
About the Author
Mandy Napier is a Global High Performance Mindset Coach who is dedicated to supporting high achievers fulfil their potential and achieve extraordinary results professionally and personally. Transformations are the norm, and results guaranteed.
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