Most professionals will be familiar with the term ‘growth mindset’. It is a popular phrase and I tend to use it in some of the articles that I write, especially those that promote professional growth and continuous learning. But what exactly does it mean?
Well, it seems that the term comes from Dr Carol Dweck who is an American psychologist and a leading researcher on motivation and how the mind works when it comes to being successful. She also wrote a highly successful book called Mindset. Her theory is that success does not necessarily stem from intellectual intelligence or natural skills but rather success is attributed to how someone thinks and perceives the world around them and uses this focus to become successful themselves.
An example is someone who wishes to write a book, just like the aforementioned author. They may come from a family who ridiculed any dreams the person may have had of doing something ‘out of the ordinary.’ Going back generations, no one had identified any particular talents or abilities yet all worked hard during their lives in order to provide for their families. So, this particular person who wishes to write a book gains an average education and gets an unfulfilling job that pays the bills and which is perceived by society as a safe and comfortable vocation. However, this person never gives up their dream and writes tirelessly in their spare time. Despite rejection after rejection, they refuse to give up. They decide to publish their own book and instead of being surprised at their sudden success they simply say ‘I always knew I would write a book!’
Another example is someone who wants to become a millionaire from a young age. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he replies confidently ‘A millionaire!’ This person drops out of two universities and ends up in a mundane job that pays a little over the minimum wage. However, he never gives up planning his future and focusing on exactly what he wants and how he will attain it and guess what…he attains his dream of being a successful business man and a millionaire by the time he is forty.
I have personally witnessed first hand how a growth mindset can work. The people who have a growth mindset are far less likely to be discouraged by failures and setbacks because they turn a challenge into a learning opportunity and each time they get knocked back, they get right back up and keep going.
People with a growth mindset have the attitude that their intelligence, their skills and talents can be improved through consistent effort and by their motivated actions. They do not sit and wait for success to happen. On the contrary they make it happen and never let criticism or the many naysayers affect what they believe in. They find inspiration in others and instill discipline in themselves. They mix with the right people who have similar mindsets to themselves.
Of course, a growth mindset is not just how to succeed and be successful in the world of work but it can be incorporated into any aspect of life by not seeking other people's approval and fully focusing by committing to practice and perseverance in order to tap into your potential.