The Psychology of Growth Mindset and How it Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

A growth mindset can help you realize your full potential, the ability to learn, and achieve a fulfilling life. Here's how you can develop a growth mindset.

Growth Mindset originally came into popular discourse with the book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. Growth mindset is the belief that your basic qualities are the things that you can cultivate through your efforts. Although everyone has a basic level of talent, growth mindset suggests that the most successful people aren’t necessarily the most talented but rather the ones who work hard consistently.

Growth mindset is all about the willingness to learn and having a desire to improve. In other words, it’s the belief that your intelligence can change and that people can expand their brain power and abilities. It’s not about how you were born into this world and how smart you are doomed to be. Instead, it’s about embracing life-long learning. Growth mindset is about continuing to take on challenges to achieve goals successfully. It pushes you to be better than yesterday and be more determined than ever before.

In this article we explore what growth mind set is, why it pays off, how you can adapt it successfully and how to nudge your organization and teams to cultivate this.

​​The point of the Growth Mindset is to always be improving every day. Choosing not to get better at something, even if you’re ‘the best’ right now, is a decision to regress, to fall back instead of moving forward.

How to promote growth mindset at workplace?

Growth mindset can be promoted in the classroom, at home, and certainly at work. But it is not necessarily a simple or easy thing to do. Like any major cultural shift, it requires time and persistence to produce results. Fortunately, with the pointers provided below, it is a goal that you can work towards, encouraging growth mindset among your colleagues. With their help, you can create an environment of compassion and a passion for new challenges—which are exactly what we all need as we build our careers.

1. Learning goals vs. Performance goals vs Output goals

Instead of evaluating employees on their output and creating goals around that, organizations should focus more on how an employee is growing as each year passes. Managers can evaluate how employees improve over time and set goals based on this improvement. This allows the employee to develop their skills and improve themselves while still being held accountable for performance-based metrics. This can help employees be more engaged throughout their employee lifecycle.

More companies have begun thinking of their employees as lifelong learners who are constantly aiming to better themselves; they have created learning and development programs and even adopted training philosophies on this premise. Many companies have also developed growth affirmations in an effort to instill an organizational growth mindset that reflects these new training methods.


2. Ask for feedback

When you hear only positive feedback and see people always praising your work, you may fall into the trap of fixed mindset of believing that you’re innately talented and therefore don’t need to do anything to improve. This isn’t to say that praise is a bad thing. However, it still has a place in your growth mindset strategy. It’s important not to make it our only source of feedback. 

Every mistake holds valuable information that can help us improve the next time, and effective praise will encourage our desire to learn from them. In other words, there’s a difference between flexible growth, where we embrace mistakes and criticism as potential sources of learning and personal growth, and fixed mindset, where we strive to avoid mistakes altogether by avoiding areas in which they may occur. HR leaders and people managers should set up a culture where evaluations and feedbacks include a summary on what to improve and how to improve. This growth mindset culture where you’re open to being taught, learning from your mistakes, and improving constantly will reward us tenfold in the long term.

3. Reinforce your long-term goals

If you want to develop a growth mindset, you must set long-term career goals and plans that lead you to growth. This is the only way to constantly upgrade yourself. The key to staying motivated and inspired, while achieving growth in the workplace is to plan ahead. Set time aside to evaluate your goals, make any needed revisions, and readdress them in line with your work. It’s also important to maintain a positive environment at work. By doing so you will remain productive and focused on the things that matter most.

4. Overcome Groupthink

It is essential for organizations to get all the team members to reinforce open mindset and teamwork. Groupthink has been a problem that every organization needs to overcome, because in the end every decision made by an organization is an output of different minds. So if a small portion of organizational minds have perceived risk, to avoid making mistake or bad judgement, the overall organization will go in the direction of low risk and low rewards, which is the antithesis of a growth mindset.


5. Encourage transparency and ask employees to speak up

Growth mindset is not a tool to assess whether your employees are doing enough but is a culture shift to promote a more transparent and forward-thinking organization. People in growth mindset organizations feel empowered to speak up and provide input when they see something that needs improvement. They feel safe and valued enough with supportive leadership to know that their honest feedback will be taken positively rather than with criticism and backlash. 

Sometimes the best ideas come when you listen and consider what other people have to say. Asking employees to speak up, opening your ears and mind to all kinds of feedback can be incredibly difficult. Yet growth mindset is ultimately about challenging yourself, taking risks, and stepping outside your comfort zone. Venturing out of this comfort zone might result in new opportunities. It is about doing the work to improve, both as an individual and as a business—not just expecting it to magically materialize overnight.


6. Upskilling and cross domain learning

The growth-mindset approach is especially important for organizations that are trying to increase technical proficiency and cross-domain learning on a large scale. If you want your organization to thrive in the long term, it’s imperative that you establish a growth mindset culture that fosters continuous development and learning. By empowering your team members to upskill constantly through coaching and cross-domain learning, you give them the tools they need to bring value to their jobs every day and develop into more versatile employees down the road. Fostering a culture where everyone needs to be more open to learning and looking for growth opportunities is the key. 

Based on personal experience, people tend to learn faster when focused on developing skills that are needed, depending on the job description rather than acquired through curiosity or recommendations from peers.

How can someone develop a growth mindset?

Everyone's mindset is different, and the best way to promote growth in mindset is through interactions with other people. In particular, you should make an effort to connect with peers who have a growth mindset and get curious about their perspective. By being exposed to these perspectives on a regular basis, you will be better equipped to identify how the mindset can help your development, both as a leader and as a member of the team. 

Taking a growth mindset view of success also applies to work and personal life. If we are always looking for opportunities to improve, to challenge ourselves, and to grow, then we're more likely to be successful even in the face of challenges. So identify challenges and stick to your personal metrics, key performance indicators or business goals and keep doing better each time.


Below are a few steps to inculcate and develop growth mindset at an individual level.

1. Don’t try to embrace perfection

The first rule of a growth mindset is to adopt and embrace imperfection, and believe in the fact that you can grow from it. A growth mindset is achieved through an honest acknowledgement of your own imperfection; by developing a willingness to accept failures, setbacks, and errors as inevitable on the road to mastery, improvement, and success.

2. Take up challenges

Challenges are part of everyone's learning curve. Challenges give you a chance to learn new ideas and expand the mind, that in turn broadens the scope of your thinking.

Learning how to tackle them and using the learning for your own success will lead to growth, happiness, and greater fulfillment. It could be as simple as taking up more projects at work or home. Or you can take up more activities similar to the ones you love. Whatever it is that you choose to do, just remember to always try harder and be resilient.

3. Be authentic

Sometimes, we wither away from ourselves throughout the years. We also tend to give up the things that we enjoy and over time forgot how to be true to who we are when things get too busy. A growth mindset is a way to turn this around in your life and it's through the power of being yourself. Authenticity is a way to show that you have your heart in the right place, but more importantly—authenticity will lead to more growth mindset than hiding behind a persona which isn’t true to who you are.

4. Treat criticism as feedback

Most people are quick to fire back with a snarky quip when their work is criticized, or they see their efforts as an extension of their very self. While this is a difficult practice, treating criticism as valuable information is the first step in developing a growth mindset. 

Choose to view all negativity as feedback, regardless of whether it is constructive or destructive. It may be true that no one knows you better than yourself. However, if your work space can benefit from improvement, don't be afraid to let go of your past selves and add new skill sets to your repertoire.

5. Pay attention to the process

The path towards success is, in many ways, paved by failure. People should learn to push through tough situations and persevere in their pursuits as long as they are aware of the steps being taken towards progress. While it may not be evident at first, concentrating on the process allows us to recognize the changes that will be made over time.

6. Develop a “Not Yet” mindset

It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re terrible at something and give up. It’s important to remember that the difference between a master and novice is the amount of time and effort devoted to honing their craft. Throughout the process, convincing yourself you are "not yet" an expert is the key to building grit.


7. Take risks

Taking risks is an important aspect to increase your ability to learn and develop a growth mindset. If you want to be smart, you need to be open-minded about taking new challenges and approach them in the right way so that they can work for you.

Having a risk appetite can be very fruitful in the long-run. You can train yourself to go through this process every time--for anything that scares you or is difficult--and rise up stronger.

8. Give yourself time  

When that task comes up, don’t obsess about how long it will take to finish. Instead, remind yourself that you just haven’t mastered the task “yet.” There’s still time—and since you’ll be practicing, you’ll most likely get better at it over time. So take heart: with patience and practice, you really can reach your goal of mastering a particular skill. Shortcuts are for dilettantes, not for serious learners.


9. Do things with purpose

People can positively influence their attitude towards a task by tailoring a sense of purpose in their tasks. This will aim to develop a growth mindset among them, who will then be more likely to find challenges effective and engaging and are more likely to develop a sense of agency that strengthens their general self-belief. While building a sense of purpose is not always a straightforward process, it is still helpful to develop resilience when managing challenges.


10. Be Mindful

Mindfulness is the ability to be in the present moment, and you can use it to change your life. By being mindful we can focus on what is most important and develop a growth mindset. Mindfulness is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. If we are to pursue our passions—or even survive in this tumultuous world—we must learn to be present in the moment, and embrace self-compassion.

What is the difference between a growth mindset and fixed mindset?

The main difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset is that the first one consists of limiting beliefs that can prevent us from becoming better (and escaping mediocrity), whereas the latter contains empowering beliefs that can lead us towards self-improvement and success. 

A growth mindset is developed by both learning new things over time and understanding that you have the ability to learn new things. On the other hand, having a fixed mindset means you may not be capable of doing something because you don’t think you will be able to. Having a fixed mindset can rob someone of trying new things, as well as other skills people can use to accomplish things in life. However, a growth mindset allows people to be their best and at the top of their game all the time, whereas a fixed mindset is always looking for validation and confirmation. 

People with a growth mindset are always willing to learn and grow, but those with a fixed mindset want to be perfect right away. Growth requires effort and hard work---you don't just gain skills quickly. Growth comes with mistakes and bad outcomes, which people with a fixed mindset struggle with because they want to be perfect--or aren't willing to put in the effort. And while it may take longer to reach your goals, you'll eventually get there and learn something along the way if you have a growth mindset. 

When in the fixed mindset you fail, get low grades etc. you fear failure and become harder on yourself, so it may lead to a low self-esteem. You don't see yourself improving and believe that when you do succeed, it will be because you're lucky or by chance. When in a growth mindset if you fail or get low grades, you feel that it's because of your effort. You don't give up and think you have to work harder on succeeding.

In short, when one focuses on and invests in the development of themselves and their skills, they have a growth mindset. When one focuses on what they can or cannot do, or their innate talent in specific endeavors, they have fixed mindset.


Conclusion

We believe that working towards creating a more positive, collaborative and innovative workplace is never a bad thing. Increasing awareness for these ideas – just as we have done with growth mindset in this article – can ultimately lead to improved practices at the office. Growth mindset seems to be a good first step toward fostering a more inclusive corporate environment. Our hope is that this article makes people more aware of how they can achieve the same goals.

FAQs about Growth Mindset

1. What are the characteristics of a growth mindset?

A growth mindset is an attitude of mind characterized by belief in personal abilities to grow through application and experience. People with this attitude believe that success is more a function of their own efforts, rather than a product of external factors like being "smart" or "talented". Self-confidence, action over thoughts, self belief, optimism and resilience are some defining traits of a growth mindset person.

2. What are the personality traits of a fixed mindset?

When people with a fixed mindset develop new skills, they don’t tend to take on tough challenges to show others how good they are or test their skills. Growth mindset people, on the other hand, understand that challenges help them to learn more and can even gain them praise. A fixed mindset, on the other hand, can spell failure even for very talented people. The key to success isn’t about getting the most "talented" people –- rather it is about getting the most "hardworking" people. Fixed mindset people are usually characterized by risk adverseness, defensive mindset, jealousy etc.

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