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What Is a Growth Mindset and How Does it Apply to Your Career?

September 3, 2019
3 Min Read
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Success can look daunting and unobtainable from afar. Many of us may often wonder why a select few seem to find success so easily. However you define success, recent studies in psychology and business have linked success to your mindset. Some of the most prominent books in business success often share a common theme. They exclusively attribute career and life success to having a mindset that’s determined and adaptive. In other words, success is mind over matter.

What Is a Growth Mindset?

Growth and fixed mindset were first introduced by Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University. At the most fundamental level, growth mindset is the theory that your traits like intelligence and communication aren’t set in stone. These traits are malleable and can continuously grow through development and work. On the other hand, fixed mindset emphasizes that you are what you are. You were born with it or without. This includes both hard and soft skills.

Individuals who embrace a growth mindset will see every inadequacy or perceived failure as something to be developed or explored. These individuals work hard, and through dedication they are able to improve existing qualities and develop new skills.

Oppositely, individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their abilities are set in stone with no room for growth. They believe their traits are innately limited and rarely seek ways to grow or add to them. Surprisingly, these people are also the ones who are most worried about their inadequacies.

All of this may seem straightforward, but oftentimes it can be difficult to know which mindset you are embodying. Practicing self-awareness and getting regular feedback are critical to understanding and transforming your mindset.

The Benefits of Having a Growth Mindset

Your mindset is a collection of beliefs that you have about yourself. This includes how you view your talents, knowledge, skills, intelligence, personality, and so on. All of that will shape the way you view goals and accomplishments in life. Hence, the fixed mindset hinders growth, while embracing a growth mindset propels it. This simple attitude of continuous growth can also benefit your happiness, health, relationships, and all your endeavors.

According to Dweck, people with a growth mindset experience greater joy, motivation, and comfort. They also take more risks and have more aspirational goals. Brain development is also significantly enhanced when you adopt a growth mindset.

Embracing The Growth Mindset

Part of what keeps people locked in a fixed mindset is ‘certainty.’ Doing uncertain work is challenging, and can come with a level of fear of not knowing whether something will work out or not. The fear of failure or receiving a negative response is a major reason many people don’t try new ideas or embrace the growth mindset.

You first must understand that failure is part of the learning process. Each setback or negative response is just a mirror showing you what you can improve on. Over time, you start to see that these opportunities to become even more aware of yourself and your shortcomings can actually be more valuable than your successes, as they provide a measuring stick for your progress. When you embrace a growth mindset you allow every opportunity, both the successes and setbacks, to be valuable for your personal awareness and growth.

Immediate Steps You Can Take To Develop a Growth Mindset

  • View every challenge as an opportunity to grow
  • Be purpose-driven and commit to continuous learning. Always pursue new goals after you’ve conquered others
  • Acknowledge that no one is perfect and start seeing imperfections as things to grow
  • Develop the habit of learning from what others have done
  • Always find better and more effective ways to complete tasks
  • Start thinking of failing as learning and value processes over results
  • Embrace growing over speed to completion
  • Celebrate both the growth of others and yours in a supportive and healthy way
  • Value effort more than talent. Talent is still nice to have, but know it can be developed
  • Take complete ownership over your results, decisions, and circumstances

The Importance of Feedback to Developing a Growth Mindset

Feedback is rarely ever negative even when it seems harsh at the moment you receive it. Increasing the amount of constructive feedback you receive will help you foster a growth mindset.

Set challenging goals for yourself and receive continuous feedback on your work. This will help you grow professionally and personally. You’ll begin to approach feedback as something positive and necessary for learning, and view mistakes as a key part of growth, not as an indication of failure.

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