I’m starting to feel as though the term ‘growth mindset’ is becoming just another buzzword – a term that people use quite a bit, yet don’t really have a solid understanding of what it means. At our Los Angeles Public Relations agency, we lead with a growth mindset – it’s extremely important for us in order to foster excellence and growth within our community.
A quick survey with my food and beverage PR colleagues on their definition of ‘growth mindset’ found a majority of them believing it to be the ability to think strategically about how to grow in any situation – growing your business, your workforce, your relationships. And while they seem to be correct in a sense, the professionals tell us it goes deeper than that.
Premier growth mindset expert and Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, Dr. Carol Dweck, who is known for her work on the mindset psychology trait, has spent years exploring human motivation and success. She defines ‘growth mindset’ as “people having the belief that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.”
So, while yes, having a growth mindset is about your ability to read a situation and think ‘how can I make this better”, it really starts with our abilities to foster success and the effort that goes into nurturing those abilities. As Dr. Dweck says best, “…brains and talent are just the starting point.”
Dr. Dweck believes developing a growth mindset starts with a desire to learn. Having a mentality with no limits to the amount you absorb and embrace – developing your intelligence and ultimately growing from that knowledge. To achieve a growth mindset, one must:
Embrace challenges: Don’t shy away from what is unknown – embrace it and approach with gusto. Don’t be afraid to fail as it will always be a lesson learned and allow you to apply those learnings to conquer future challenges.
Persistent in the face of setbacks: Don’t give up – stay positive through setbacks and work around them – it may delay or make success more difficult, but it’s temporary and will give you the knowledge to avoid potential setbacks in the future.
See effort as the path to mastery: Effort is essential to growth – you can’t have one without the other. The more effort you put in, the easier your path to success becomes.
Learn from criticism: Criticism, the hardest pill to swallow. While not all criticism is favorable, it’s important and will help you understand your situation from another point of view – potentially leading to your efforts being spent in a more meaningful way, leading to success.
Find lessons and inspiration in the success of others: While it’s easy to be envious of other successes, learn from them. Understand why they were successful and how they got there – their challenges and setbacks could be like yours and how they overcame them can help you better understand how to get past your own. Dr. Dweck says “in a growth mindset, failure can be a painful experience. But it doesn’t define you. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from.” And learning from our challenges, setbacks and failures can help us achieve higher levels of growth and achievement.