“Thoughts create your reality” – this expression has become extremely popular and, as a consequence, has almost lost its original meaning. What this attitude means in practice, how thinking affects our lives, what is the nature and mechanism of human motivation and how to stop being afraid of failure. Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, was one of the first in the world to study the motivational component of the human mindset.
In lectures she gave at many leading universities, Carol talked about the psychology of development. That thinking determines our lives has long been a well-known fact. But before Dweck, no prominent psychologist had considered the typical speeches of professional life coaches (in the “Act, you can do it!” style) as an object of study. The main interest was how motivation emerges and how to manage it. Thus the concept of Growth Mindset, or growth mindset, was born.
It is a special way of looking at the world, according to which everything that happens is not a threat, but an opportunity for development and a failure is just another stepping-stone to progress, but not an excuse to dig yourself up. A growth mindset is also about continuing education or life-long learning. The idea is that life and success are not predetermined by starting conditions. Everyone has the opportunity to learn any skill – though to a certain extent, depending on the underlying characteristics.
According to the growth mindset concept, people can be divided into those who are used to self-learning and those who believe that all qualities are “given” by nature. People with a “fixed” mindset are afraid of failure like fire, so they use only known and reliable ways to solve problems. They are unwilling to take responsibility for new tasks because they do not want to challenge their competence. At the same time, people with a flexible way of thinking are always ready to fail, are open to search for new solutions, and they are ready to leave their comfort zone for the sake of their development.
Why growth mindset works
A team of researchers led by Carol Dweck conducted many experiments to support the concept of growth mindset. In one, she divided 400 children into two groups and asked them to put together simple puzzles. One group was praised only for reaching the goal, and the other group was praised for trying. In the group where the children were instilled with the value of the result, fixed thinking was reinforced: they got satisfaction only from the outcome, not from the process itself, and they chose an easier puzzle for the next stage. In the other group where children were praised for their efforts, they formed flexible thinking, they did not stop there, they took up more complicated tasks and tried to find new ways of solving them. This is the growth mindset that drives our development.
How to cultivate a growth mindset and constantly evolve
1. The brain loves training
But it is not enough to develop in one area; you have to challenge yourself in new directions. Most of the outstanding personalities develop multifaceted. A famous financier turns out to be an expert in astrophysics and geology, while an excellent scientist is a connoisseur of art and music. If you constantly saturate your brain with knowledge from various fields, it will find non-standard solutions to problems. As a result, your thinking becomes not just flexible, but creative. The main basis of innovation is the ability to look at a problem from a different angle, inaccessible to people with fixed thinking.
2. Be open to new experiences
Don’t be afraid of novelty, encourage it in your life. Be open not only to experimentation but also to healthy criticism. If you love the very process of finding a solution, you will not seek self-affirmation at the expense of approval from society. For example, you will run a marathon primarily because you enjoy the process, not for the likes on Instagram.
3. Analyze your thoughts and actions
Document your emotions through reflection or a personal journal. This way you can control your feelings, and not go along with them. Take into account past mistakes and don’t turn them into a tragedy that leads to a dead end. Conclude, but do not dwell on your own mistake.
4. Form positive habits
Let me give a simple example of a diet: a person can lose weight in a month and achieve the desired result. However, without a habit, it will not work. You must have an initially positive attitude and a clear interest in the new knowledge, and the habit is a good help to develop discipline.
5. Do and be wrong
You can regularly listen to motivational speeches and praise yourself for old results, or you can work hard, experiment, and move on. Performance is the foundation of all motivation. It’s not enough to just believe that things will work out, you have to try the options in practice. It is important to understand that the growth mindset can be instilled and it is not an abstract category or an innate trait.
What kind of specialists especially need flexible thinking
In today’s economy, almost every industry is intensively developing. Adaptation has become the most important quality for any specialist. Bright examples are IT and marketing. Programmers, as well as marketers, can’t stop developing, they have to master new technologies, software, and methods of problem solutions. A person needs to keep up with the times. A growth mindset is not only a foundation for self-development in fast-growing industries, it also helps to adapt to rapidly changing conditions.
Where to learn the growth mindset
If you have already developed willpower, then you can change your life for the better and adjust yourself to the growth mindset on your own. You need to understand the essence of the approach and instill discipline, good habits, and the right attitude to failures. However, if at the initial stage you have difficulties, then you should try to start with courses that are based on separate blocks on the development of soft skills.