11 Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset
Mindset – it plays an enormous role in our lives. It dictates everything from how we see the actions of others to our own sense of self-worth. I talked previously about mindset in my post on how to develop a mindset of success. Today, I want to discuss how to develop a mindset of growth. The topics are related, but independent of each other.
What Is a Growth Mindset?
Before we delve into how you can create a growth mindset, we should really establish what it is, how it differs from a success mindset, and what it brings to your life in terms of value. Simply put, a growth mindset is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a default way of looking at things that ensures you believe that growth is not just possible, but almost inevitable. It ties into ideas like abundance over scarcity, and that change can and does happen.
Many people have what’s called a “fixed mindset.” This mindset assumes that everything about a person will remain the same once it has formed. Your personality, your interests, your values and more – they will be the same 20 years from now as they are today. This mindset assumes that change (growth) is not possible. You can try to change and grow, and may succeed for some time, but eventually you will return to your “true” self.
The growth mindset turns that idea on its ear. It focuses on human beings as dynamic creatures that are always in a state of change and evolution (growth). It says that you can increase your intelligence and change your personality over time and through personal efforts.
Why does it matter? Actually, there are quite a few reasons, but one of those is that a fixed mindset leads to stagnation and a sense of urgency, combined with the need to continually prove yourself time after time. It creates a sense of scarcity and creates an almost predatory environment in which it is everyone for themselves.
A growth mindset offers a more relaxed, less-stressful view of the world. It also has a huge impact on your ability to run a successful business. In fact, it can change what you see as success in the first place.
How do you go about developing such a mindset?
See the Opportunity, Not the Challenge
This particular tip probably sounds trite, but it’s true nevertheless. Rather than seeing challenges as hurdles or obstacles that you need to force your way past, see them instead as opportunities. Opportunities for what, though? Growth and change. In particular, you should see them as opportunities to further develop yourself.
Find New Ways to Learn
A fixed mindset discourages learning. What’s the point if you cannot change anything? What use is there in learning if nothing ever alters because of it? A growth mindset, on the other hand, encourages lifelong learning. Finding new ways to learn can help ensure that you are able to build your intelligence and your intuition and improve yourself in a wide range of ways. Also, remember that different people learn in different ways. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
Foster a Drive for Perseverance
According to Merriam-Webster, perseverance is defined as, “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition; the action or condition or an instance of persevering; steadfastness”. Learn from that. Every entrepreneur must have the ability to persevere even in face of seemingly overwhelming odds. As you keep pushing forward through things that would have made anyone else call it quits, you will be able to build a growth mindset. After all, nothing quite sums up this mindset as well as pushing through obstacles confident in the knowledge that you can make it through and change things by doing so.
Be Good at Receiving Feedback
Most of us are pretty good at giving feedback, but we suck at receiving it. Change that and you can start to build a mindset of growth. Be open to feedback, and be open to feedback from people you might not have always considered. For instance, chances are good you are willing to listen to your business partner(s). You probably also listen to other stakeholders who have a vested interest in the project, process, or your company itself. However, there are other people who have things worth your time.
Being open to feedback should be used in conjunction with good goal-setting skills. Feedback helps you judge your progress toward reaching the goals you have set, as well as whether your progress is being created by the right processes, steps and strategies. It’s all about learning what is working and why, as well as what is not working, and why not. Based on that knowledge, your process for reaching goals can grow and change.
With a fixed mindset, imperfections are dire things usually because they are seen as being permanent. If you’re bad at a particular activity, you will always be bad at it no matter what. With a growth mindset, imperfections are just additional opportunities for growth and self-improvement. If you embrace your imperfections, rather than trying to hide them, you can learn how to improve them. Eventually, you may be able to transform your imperfections into your strengths. At the very least, you can ensure that they are not liabilities.
You Need No One’s Approval
There are times that you need to seek approval for your actions, but those times should be few and far between. If you are constantly seeking approval for your decisions and your actions, then you’re not prioritizing learning. You’re prioritizing approval. You’re saying that you put a higher value on someone else’s opinion of you, your idea, or your actions than you do on self-improvement. You will never achieve success in life, much less in business, with that outlook. Yes, the approval of other people does matter at times. However, learning always trumps outside approval.
Share Your Successes
When you truly develop a growth mindset, you will want to share what you have achieved with other people. It’s part pride, but also part encouragement. It’s about helping others learn and grow by inspiring them with your own success. However, understand that there is a dark side to this – over aggrandizement of your accomplishments, chest thumping, self-pride, these are negative things and should be avoided, as they only push others away from learning. They also point to the fact that you do not truly appreciate growth. You appreciate personal achievement for the sake of bolstering your sense of self.
Reflect, Reflect, Reflect
Learning does not happen in a vacuum, and it does not happen without thought. The same is true for any other type of growth. You need to pause regularly and reflect on where you are, where you’re going, and how you intend to get there. Spare some thought for where you started, as well.
Don’t Get Defensive
Many of us have a natural tendency to become defensive when we are criticized. Realize that not all criticism is bad. In fact, some can be good. Yes, we’re talking about constructive criticism, and while that term is more than a little clichéd, the underlying concept holds true. Thoughtful criticism that leads to change fosters growth and evolution. It helps you improve and change. Getting defensive only serves to slow down or even halt that process, and that is not part of the growth mindset.
Learn to Value the Word “Yet”
All too often, we live in a world of black and white, yes or no, have or have not. However, the reality is that most of life is made up of shades of gray. You can embrace that and foster a growth mindset by learning to value the word “yet.” Have you achieved that goal? No is the wrong answer. A better one is “not yet.” “Yet” allows for growth and change – evolution. No is finite and limiting. By learning to use the word “yet,” you are able to add flexibility to your mindset and outlook. You learn a new way of seeing things.
Always Set a New Goal
Achieving a goal is a laudable thing. It’s empowering. It’s ennobling. However, it’s not the end of everything. When you achieve one goal, you need to set another. Ultimately, you will never be done moving forward unless you choose to do so. Achieve a goal, then set another. Achieve that one, and set another. Rinse and repeat.
Ultimately, a growth mindset embraces change and encourages adaptation. It’s about becoming a lifelong learner and being open to the fact that the journey is what matters most. Yes, your achievements do have value, but change and evolution come through the doing of things.
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