Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is more than just being open-minded. Open-mindedness is willing to explore new thoughts and ideas, but a growth mindset means you are eager to put in the work and view challenges and setbacks as opportunities.

A article states that a growth mindset means that you believe your talents can be developed through hard work and support from others. In addition, having a growth mindset means you worry less about looking smart and put more energy into learning.

What are you saying to yourself about hard things? We all have tasks that are asked of us, which no one wants to do. We may dig our heels in and say, “I don’t want to do it.” For example, what is yours in dialogue with yourself?

  • I have to go to work, or I get to go to work.
  • I have to go to the gym, or I choose to go to the gym to take care of myself.
  • I have to study, or I choose to study and learn.

When you feel like you “have to” do something, it feels like a chore. But when your change your inner dialogue and it feels like you “get to” do something, it feels like a choice.

There have been many times when you feel overwhelmed by all the responsibilities you signed up for. Yet, no matter the challenges and risks you face, there will always be struggles with new beginnings and feelings of frustration when the skills we want to develop are not as easy as we thought.

I felt overwhelmed while earning my bachelor’s degree with young children. I felt overwhelmed balancing a busy career while earning a master’s degree and becoming a single parent. I felt overwhelmed moving to a new state for a new job as a single parent. Yet, during these times of struggle, there were also growth opportunities. The beauty of this journey called life is that we are not finished products.

As humans, we are often our own harshest critics. I know I am. We set high expectations for ourselves, and when we don’t meet them, we feel disappointed and frustrated in these moments of self-doubt. In these moments of self-doubt, it becomes easy to compare ourselves to others and feel like we don’t measure up. However, growth can and must occur at every stage. Growth is not a punishment. It is an opportunity to surprise ourselves with what we are capable of, and no matter what stage of life you are at, there is still a tremendous amount of surprise left for you and me.

8 Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset

  1. Listen to the voice inside of you.
    1. If you fear failure, this means you have a fixed mindset.
  1. Recognize that you have a choice.
  2. Talkback with a growth mindset voice.
    • Say, “I am not sure I can do it, but I will be worth the try.” A few years ago, I tried snowboarding for the first time. I had many reasons why I should not do it. I was too old, did not have good knees, and might break a leg. I tried it and had many falls, but the point is that I tried it. We have opportunities all around that push us out of our comfort zone. A growth mindset is not allowing fear to stop you from trying.
  3. Practice
    • Put yourself in challenging situations. There are many opportunities. Watch for them and act on them.
  4. Find outside help.
    • You need support, encouragement, and advice from others. So surround yourself with people who cheer you on.
  5. Stop seeking the approval of others.
    • Stop worrying about pleasing others. Stop comparing yourself to others. Instead, focus on how you can grow.
  6. Replace the word “failing” with “learning.”
    • Embrace failure as an opportunity for continual learning.
  7. Act
    • Sometimes, you will fail and tell yourself that it is ok. But, never stop trying.

By Cheryl Viola, Executive Director & CEO, Doctoral Candidate Organizational Leadership