Post originally published May 14, 2018.
No matter what job you have, you will find yourself feeling stuck sometimes. Even though you might not like it, you will also fail at some point. But, it’s more about what you do after you fail or feel stuck that matters. Promoting a growth mindset can help you to get out of a rut. How can you promote a growth mindset? Read my tips below!
First, it’s important to define what a growth mindset is. A growth mindset is the belief that your talents can be developed. This can happen through feedback, training, or hard work. A fixed mindset is the opposite. A fixed mindset is the idea that your talents are set – you are either good at something or you’re not. The research shows that those with a growth mindset are more successful, because they focus on learning instead of outcomes.
So, when you face failure or setbacks, how do you cultivate a growth mindset?
Growth Mindset Isn’t About Effort – It’s About Learning
Leading research on growth mindsets suggests that it’s important not to confuse effort with growth mindset. Sometimes people think that if they just try hard, that’s better than giving up. While effort can be good, if you are trying the same thing over and over without thinking about how to grow as a result, you might not benefit. So, when you attempt to create a growth mindset, it’s important to try hard, but to “try smart” as well. When you hit a challenge, think about why you have hit that challenge. How have you approached similar problems? What worked and what didn’t? If you think about the reason you are hitting a wall and can try to change strategies to overcome it, you are practicing a growth mindset.
You Have to Walk the Talk of a Growth Mindset
If it seems easy to have a growth mindset, you might not be doing it right. Just thinking positively isn’t enough. If you need extra skills in order to achieve your goals, you have to go out and get them. That’s the core of a growth mindset. You have to actually DO things to improve your skills and capabilities when you hit roadblocks. Just thinking “I can do this” isn’t enough. Research has shown that to really practice a growth mindset you need to keep track of your skills and abilities and improve them to meet your goals. This means that you need to be honest with yourself and willing to take the time for it. You could participate in trainings, get a coach, or meet with experts. Whatever you need to do, it’s important that you do it and not just talk about it.
You Have to Own and Talk About Failure
This might seem obvious but you can’t recognize and address failure if you don’t own it. Organizations and people don’t learn if they aren’t vocal about what is going wrong. If others around you can’t tell when you need help, you might miss out on valuable feedback from them. Also, if you discuss your own shortcomings and how you dealt with them, it might encourage others to do the same.
I once knew a faculty member who had an “anti-resume”. It listed all of the jobs she did not get, all of the papers that got rejected, and all of the awards she applied for but didn’t win. This was really encouraging to see as a young faculty member. It showed that it was more about learning from mistakes and moving on than never having mistakes at all. It’s really hard, but owning your failure actually helps you to avoid similar mistakes moving forward. Plus, it shows your team that you are human and that winning through learning, and not just winning itself, is the goal.
What do you think? Have you hit a roadblock that you’ve learned from? How have you maintained a growth mindset over time? We would love to hear tips from you below!