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How to Develop a Growth Mindset

How to Develop a Growth Mindset

How do you view a challenge? Is it an opportunity to grow or an indication that your initial attempt failed?

What about goals? Do you set them and work hard to achieve them despite the occasional setback or do you avoid setting them or quit after the first hint of failure?

The former indicates a growth mindset, the latter a fixed one. People with a fixed mindset believe their success has limits due in large part to their innate skills, abilities and other immutable characteristics. They also believe people they work with have fixed capabilities. With a growth mindset, the belief is that hard work and determination are drivers of success and that gaps in knowledge or skill can be bridged. These people help others create bridges for themselves as they grow and develop together.

In terms of success at work, having a growth mindset will take you much further as you will be:

  • Motivated to learn new skills, enhance current ones, and seek new opportunities as they become available
  • Able to change and adapt to challenges as they arise
  • Willing to help others succeed and share knowledge actively

Being open to improvement and believing you and team can succeed no matter what contributes to a healthy, positive, productive workplace. Here are some tips on how to develop and encourage a growth mindset in yourself and others.

Seek New Challenges

For yourself:

  • Instead of sticking with what is comfortable, be constantly on the lookout for new skills to learn and new ways to apply the skills you have.
  • Focus on action - ask yourself what else you could do and then put in the effort. Speed of growth is not the goal – hard work and moving forward consistently will get you where you want to go.
  • Stop competing with others. Set high standards for yourself and work toward something that is meaningful to you.

For your team:

  • Actively encourage your team to development new skills by using programs like cross-functional training and job rotations.
  • Coach with a growth mindset for all. Avoid the trap of ‘star’ employees and believe instead that all your people can accomplish great things.
  • Ensure your team is setting stretch goals and provide the training and resources they need to accomplish them.

Embrace Mistakes

For yourself:

  • Understand that failure is human and how you deal with it is what matters.
  • Pay attention to feedback and don’t take criticism personally; instead modify your reaction to feedback and seek to make the changes needed to be successful moving forward.
  • Learn from others and be inspired by them rather than envious. Recognize how hard they are working, emulate their best efforts, and realize that we all have room for improvement no matter our age, experience, position, etc.

For your team:

  • Provide feedback regularly and focus on what the person did (versus their innate skill or intelligence) and the effort they applied so this can be repeated or modified as needed.
  • Foster innovation and risk taking, encouraging people to submit new ideas, try new things and solve problems proactively understanding that failure is part of moving a business forward.
  • Ensure performance management processes have room for risk taking and don’t penalize people for taking reasonable risks.

Practice Self Reflection

For yourself:

  • Think about how you’ve approached challenges or setbacks in the past. Reframe your thinking to a growth mindset and ask yourself what you can do differently to continue improving and moving forward toward your goals.
  • Be persistent and practice resilience. When obstacles get in your way, don’t give up! Be proactive asking for feedback as a way to keep focused on improvement.
  • Remember to do things for you and not to please someone else. This will help internalize your growth journey and you’ll start valuing the learning as much as the outcome.

For your team:

  • Engage in regular debriefings. Talk about what went well, what didn’t and develop a plan together to address needed skills or other ways to ensure the same mistakes don’t happen again.
  • Remind your team to encourage one another, stick to your goals and build each other up. When surrounded with likeminded, growth-minded people, the whole team will elevate one another.
  • Be honest and transparent when talking to the team about your own challenges and how you’ve dealt with them. Being humble and embracing your own imperfections shows your team how committed you are to having and developing a growth mindset.

Developing a growth mindset is itself a journey - change won’t happen overnight. What’s important is that you understand everyone is capable of growing and developing at all stages of life and career and that you nurture that capability within yourself and others. Ordinary people can, and do, accomplish extraordinary things and you owe it to yourself to believe you can do so as well.

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