Cultivating a Growth Mindset: Why It Matters and How to Do It
What is a Growth Mindset?
The term “growth mindset” was coined by Carol Dweck, a psychologist who researched how our brains grow. She proved that, just like other muscles in our body, our brain could be exercised to continue to expand. Before her research, it was often believed that our brains were fixed and the abilities of our brains were exclusively dictated at birth.
Why Does a Growth Mindset Matter?
The opposite of a growth mindset is, of course, a “fixed mindset,” which limits your potential. In academics, it is the person who says they’re “just bad at math” or “never going to learn how to write well.” Because people see their brains as born with capacities for some things and not for others, they tend to try in areas of strength only.
However, a narrative surrounding the idea of a growth mindset can flip the script. With the examples above, a person can say that they are bad at math but can also continue learning and growing their brain’s ability. With regular practice, they will improve at math, even though they formerly felt it was out of their grasp.
How Do You Adapt a Growth Mindset?
You can take many steps to change your fixed mindset to a growth mindset, and your life will improve. Here are some tips!
Embrace the “Power of Yet”
Carol Dweck often refers to the “power of yet” as it pertains to a growth mindset. This idea allows a person to acknowledge that they may not be capable of something, but with the ability to practice it, they will learn it over time.
So, instead of the fixed mindset of saying that “I have just always been bad at fractions,” a growth mindset focused on the power of yet would say, “I just haven’t mastered fractions YET.” This empowering shift helps individuals know that they can pursue and succeed in almost anything with practice.
Acknowledge Your Potential
Just as with the “power of yet,” a growth mindset is about acknowledging the potential to increase a part of your brain. By thinking of the brain as a muscle that requires exercise to strengthen it, you release any limits you might have on yoru own abilities. Learning a new skill at ANY stage of life - such as playing an instrument or speaking a new language - is possible because of a growth mindset.
Recognize Your Role
An important part of a growth mindset is realizing that you are the only one who can improve your understanding. Learning can be difficult, but accepting the challenges as new brain development can ensure that you are utilizing the “power of yet” and capitalizing on a growth mindset.
While not everyone will become an NBA star or a poet laureate by adopting a growth mindset, the saying “practice makes perfect” absolutely holds true in a growth mindset. In fact, your brain depends on it!
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