When faced with a setback, failure or misstep, what does your inner dialogue say to you?
"I'm a failure, I suck, I have no talent… "
"What can I do to improve? Almost there, that's going to need extra attention next time…"
These appear to be simple reactions to adversity and how someone might treat an unfavourable situation. In reality, however, what your inner voice says to you can reveal your mindset type and your propensity for long-term success and happiness.
You're either good at something or your not. Some people get it, others don't. You can't do anything about it. Naturally gifted, born with talent, lucky. This is the call cry of the fixed mindset. The idea that you are born with specific talents or a predisposition to excel in a particular field is how someone with a fixed mindset views the world.
Do you believe you can get smarter and go faster?
The opposite of a fixed mindset says that if you're unskilled in an area, you can gain new skills. If you don't get it, you can learn it. When you don't understand something or you aren't fast enough, you can get faster and improve your knowledge. It's the "I can improve mindset", the "I can get it done mindset", the "say goodbye to failure mindset".
More commonly known as the growth mindset.
What mindset are you?
You can have a fixed or growth mindset. You're probably somewhere in between.
A person with a fixed mindset believes they have fixed traits and talents. Instead of learning or developing new skills they build evidence in support of their natural gifts. They think that talent creates success while effort is something used by people who lack ability. They believe that you are who you are and you can't make positive improvements in your ability or intelligence.
Gonzo is a little learner who has a fixed mindset. When he is challenged he gets frustrated and gives up. He sees failure to be the extent of his abilities. When Enzo is given feedback he gets defensive and sees it as an assault on his character, which is fixed and unchangeable. Enzo avoids challenges because he is afraid to fail and doesn't want his lack of skill to be revealed to the world. Enzo rarely makes an effort in activities that he hasn't already proved himself in and he feels threatened by others success.
Enzo and people like Enzo tend to grow up and attend not such great universities and take not such great jobs. If they do reach the top, they don't stay there as they're more focussed on gathering evidence to support their talents than improving.
Do you believe you can better, smarter and faster? Could be a growth mindset.
A person with a growth mindset believes traits and talents can improve and respond well to dedicated practice and perseverance. A growth mindset is curious by nature and explores the world by learning and developing new skills as required by their life. People with a growth mindset see criticism as constructive and actively seek feedback so they can continually improve. They pursue excellence over perfection.
Ariel has a growth mindset. Upon facing challenges, she tries harder and is inspired by others success. Ariel sees failure and setbacks as an opportunity to grow and focusses on improving in areas where she is weak. Ariel seeks out challenging ideas, concepts and skills and exhibits a love for learning and the process of learning. She knows that talent is only a small part of the equation and that her role models have put in tremendous effort to become the leaders in their field.
People with a growth mindset enjoy higher self-esteem and find more enjoyment in life. They are less depressed and are more confident. Because they see setbacks as the path to success, they are more likely to be resilient and achieve their goals. They see the obstacle as the way and improve mentally, physically and academically in their pursuit of excellence. People with a growth mindset become better friends, parents, coaches and CEOs. As a group, they are more productive and successful.
How to grow your growth mindset
1. Ignore the voice
2. Value the journey over the destination
4. Always set new goals
5. Take risks
How to teach growth mindset
1. Praise effort over ability, every time
When you praise a student on their ability, they become fixated on performance and are unwilling to take risks for fear of failure. Hence you reinforce a fixed mindset. When you praise effort, learners are more likely to take on challenges, and hence become better problem solvers. Don't just praise effort for the sake of it, give detailed feedback.
2. Provide detailed feedback
When you praise a student for their effort, don't just say "good effort" say "good effort + why..". As soon as you add the why, the praise evolves to feedback. Constructive, positive feedback is essential for growth. For example, a student has tried a difficult problem and has given their best. Saying "Great effort" is an OK start, when you say "Great effort, I like how you approached that problem, next time you could look at…." the student has a clear direction for improvement.
3. Set clear (micro) goals
Goal setting for success is the central theme in all self-help books. "Set goals, remind yourself of them every day and always work towards them", sound familiar? When you set big goals for your learners in all areas; behaviour, understanding and skill building, they may become lost on their journey. When you give them micro goals in the learning journey, they take on board the little wins and are inspired to push forward.
Competition breeds contempt, collaboration breeds creativity. Set primary tasks as group or team work. learners who work in diverse teams can build upon each other's strengths and weaknesses to achieve at a higher level. Teamwork also helps the learners to be inspired by other's successes not demoralised. A key factor in promoting a growth mindset.
5. Celebrate mistakes
If you want to get fitter, stronger and faster, you challenge yourself by going to the gym, eating nutritious food and sweating it out. When it comes to our physical well-being, we all know what needs to be done. It's hard to get up every morning and hit the gym, push yourself and eat healthily. The thing is, you know you can improve your physical well-being. Why not think about your intelligence and skills the same. If you want to get smarter, faster and more skilled, you have to challenge your brain, give it nutritious problems to feast on and make a conscious effort to achieve.
That is the growth mindset. Believe you can get better, pursue excellence over perfection, see obstacles as the way and try your very best. Your brain is a muscle, it will grow under the right conditions.
Learners who fill their mind with a growth mindset get better grades, stay in school longer and attend prestigious universities.
A growth mindset is an essential 21st-century character quality that helps learners achieve their potential. Learners with a growth mindset are happier, get better scores on standardised tests and are more likely to attend prestigious universities. We have designed a platform that helps educators teach character qualities such as growth mindset that promote well-being and engagement in the classroom.
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