The Growth Mindset

Our "mindset" can influence our behaviour and confidence, and our perception of ourselves.[1] Rigid standards can cause us to become conditioned to believing everything is black or white, right or wrong and affects our belief in our capacities, and our self-esteem.


The Fixed Mindset

People with a ‘fixed mindset’ believe that their characteristics cannot be changed, that you either have the ability, or you don’t. It can be heard in the words. “I can’t do it, I’m not good at spelling.” “I’ll never be able to play piano, I don’t have the talent." “There’s no point in joining the running team, I won’t be as fast as the others.”

A fixed mindset could hold a person back by stopping them from trying for fear of failure or criticism, or giving up easily and not seeing the value of sustained effort.

Although we are all born with different innate strengths, it is a human trait that our brains have ability to change with experience, either in terms of perception, understanding, or motor skill.[2] What does that tell us? It tells us not to underestimate the power of the time and effort put into developing a skill.


Benefits of a Growth-Mindset

Having a growith mindset is more than just having a positive outlook; according to Professor Carol Dweck it is “the understanding that abilities and understanding can be developed”.
People who nurture a growth mindset understand that taking risks sometimes leads to failure, but that this is a natural part of the learning process. are more likely to:
  • Embrace challenges
  • Persist in the face of setbacks
  • See effort as the path to mastery
  • Learn from criticism
  • Find lessons and inspiration in the success of others

Moreover, people with a growth mindset are better able to handle challenges and emotional events, protecting them from psychological distress.[3]


Develop a Growth-Mindset

Developing a growth-mindset is an on-going, and life-long process. Here are some starting points.


Cultivate self-awareness.

Children that are more aware of their strengths and weaknesses are better able to accept their failings and redirect their efforts. This also goes for being aware of the thoughts that may hold us back and checking them.


Praise process.

Praise the effort and the way your child solved a problem, rather than just the outcome.


Encourage asking for help.

Develop the understanding that we can learn from others, whether that is from someone else's success, or asking a teacher a question even if it seems 'stupid'.


Embrace curiousity. 

Look at the world as an opportunity for life-long earning, so become familiar with the feeling of being outside your comfort zone.

Remember the Power of 'Yet'.  

Skills take time to learn. When a negative thought about one's ability comes up, add "yet" to the end of the sentence. "I'm not a good player yet". It's always helpful to review the things they have learnt since they started.


Like most things in life, we’re usually never entirely on one side of the spectrum. Our mindset can change based on our experiences and feed back we get. To buffer the times and parts of our life where we may doubt ourselves, it is important to practice self-compassion rather than be critical.
If you’re interested in participating in programs that help develop a growth mindset for kids, parents and teachers, have a look at MindWorks.