In management theory and applied systems thinking, a growth mindset is a particular set of beliefs, practices, or concepts held by one or a group of individuals. A growth mindset is also referred to as an evolved mindset, because it is not derived from a single person’s philosophy or world view. Instead, it is shaped by continually gaining new information, evaluating that information, and then synthesizing it with what has been known and understood through time. Just as there are different theories and schools of thought, there are also different definitions for growth. In this article, however, we will use the definition that has been widely accepted as the common standard among the business and leadership professionals who understand the importance of having a growth mindset in business and in leadership.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition is as follows: “a stage of development between infancy and adulthood; gradual development through childhood and adolescence in which growth and changes are slow and occur mostly under stress”. The second definition is even more interesting. According to that definition, “a fixed, long-term pattern of increasing sophistication and improving capabilities”. An individual who possesses a growth mindset believes that intelligence can be developed and that human abilities can be measured and even improved. He or she also believes, along these lines, that natural talent should not be wasted and instead should be harnessed and used to create a better world. Finally, he or she recognizes that building organizational capital and providing employees with an adequate compensation package are keys to ensuring that the organization continues to grow and prosper.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, the growth mindset results from a mental transformation that occurs when you perceive that your current level of performance is not good enough. You then become determined to do whatever it takes to get better. This includes committing yourself to take critical tasks that require new skills, studying new materials, and spending time and energy to acquire new skills. When employees embrace these behaviors, they quickly get better at what they do every single time they are given the opportunity. Furthermore, when employees continually commit to learning new things, they develop new skills and become more effective in their work. By engaging in these behaviors, people improve at their jobs every single time.
To fully appreciate just how important a growth mindset and fixed mindset are for success, it’s important to understand exactly what they are. According to the Mayo Clinic, “A growth mindset is the belief that you can and will succeed. A fixed mindset views problems as irredeemable.” While neither mindset is right or wrong, many people believe that having a growth mindset gives you a clear path to achieving your goals.
Just as a carpenter cannot succeed without a sturdy framework, people with a growth mindset cannot succeed without a set of clear goals and a plan to reach them. Unfortunately, making mistakes is part of the game. But when you understand your mistakes, you can learn from them, adjust, and move on to make the next mistake and so on. Likewise, making mistakes is something to be expected and is a part of growing.
A growth mindset and a fixed mindset don’t always go hand-in-hand, but most successful people display one or the other. The thinking process behind a growth mindset is that if you consistently apply yourself and do the things that you’ve done a hundred times before, then you will eventually become successful. In other words, your natural ability is the key. If you have an innate ability such as writing, then chances are you’ll become a successful writer. Similarly, if you’re talented in some area, then you may become a doctor, an engineer, or even an architect. The secret is to focus on your abilities and do your best each time.
People who possess a growth mindset believe in themselves and their abilities, and therefore they have high self-esteem. These people are the ones who believe they can and will succeed because they’ve done it before and have an optimism about their future that comes from within. These people also believe that hard work and persistence pay off and that they can achieve anything. They can accomplish their goals and can help kids grow and flourish. They help kids realize their potential.
Some things that these people love to tell kids are to not get discouraged and to just keep going. When parents first hear these words, they might think that it’s mean-spirited advice and that the parent is trying to discourage their child from achieving great success. However, if you really look at it from a growth-mindset standpoint, you’ll understand that these words are meant to motivate and inspire children to continue to make mistakes and to persevere. By having the right attitude, kids are more likely to act responsibly, to take ownership of their mistakes, and to do the work required to reach their goals. It’s really hard to do great things when we’re just starting out.