What is a growth mindset?
In life, perspective is everything. The way we think and perceive ourselves determines who we are, who we become, and how well we excel. This kind of perception is called a mindset. A mindset is a perspective, an outlook, and a way of thinking. It determines if we will succeed or if we will fail. It influences how we do things, the risks we take, and what we accomplish. It can be good or bad and guides the direction and the amount of success we have in life.
A growth mindset is positive and forward-thinking. It embraces every misstep as a learning opportunity, not as a failure. It is an open-minded perspective that encourages improvement, which leads to success. It is an open-ended perspective that isn’t constrained by boundaries. It never assumes that people are limited by a level of intelligence or lack of ability.
The Growth mindset definition is a theory created by Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck as a method to change and improve outcomes in education and student performance. Dweck’s book Mindset, The New Psychology of Success revolutionized the way educators viewed intelligence and overall student achievement. It challenges the belief that smart people were just born that way. Her work defies the idea that smarts and abilities are static and pre-determined. Instead, her theory proposes that intelligence and skills are developed and nurtured over time, given the right environment and encouragement. Dweck suggests that everyone can grow and achieve their full potential if they have positive, growth-oriented thinking.
- A growth mindset inspires. It is the power to believe in yourself and grow through perseverance. In other words, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to with the right kind of effort.
- Possibilities are limitless because you are not constrained by a pre-determined definition of talent or intellect. Failure is not a stopgap but an opportunity to learn and improve.
What is a fixed mindset?
A fixed mindset is limited, static, and unchanging.
- It thrives on the phrases, “I can’t, or I just don’t have what it takes.”
- It is filled with limitations, self-doubt, and fear of failure.
- It is the belief that talent, brainpower, and abilities are pre-determined, and everyone has faults that can’t be improved.
This viewpoint restricts the possibilities and outcomes of both the successful and the yet-to-be successful. It stops business in its tracks. A fixed mindset asserts that a person is limited by the number of talents he/she possessed from the start and that people can’t get smarter no matter how hard they try.
Fixed mindset versus growth mindset
A fixed mindset limits personal outcomes by plunging people into a sea of self-doubt. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that curtails business growth and should never fester anywhere in a business. The 1930s children’s book, The Little Engine That Could, teaches readers that anything can be accomplished with an optimistic attitude and determination. This concept is reinforced with the little train chugging up a mountain saying – I think I can, I think I can – I know I can! The story is still used today and rates in the top 100 by the National Education Association. Its overriding messages is that obstacles can be overcome if you believe in yourself and keep trying.
A growth mindset does the same thing – only better. In business, it encourages employee improvement and doesn’t pigeon-hole people with preconceived notions of what they can or can’t do. Unlike a fixed mindset, this positivity encourages novelty, which is key to success in business today. A growth perspective empowers employees by clearly defining an objective, business goals, and letting team members run with the challenge.
How a growth mindset drives business
What does it mean to have a growth mindset for business? It’s all about perspective and right-minded leadership that empowers possibilities and business outcomes. It motivates business owners and employees to aspire higher. The famous animator and entertainment mogul Walt Disney summed it up best years ago when he said, ‘if you can dream it, you can do it.’
Growth leadership encourages employees to expand their reach and go above and beyond the possibilities with no fear of failure. They will be inspired to try new things and take measurable risks because they are no longer obsessed with perfection. A growth mindset:
- Encourages creativity and innovation
- Focuses on outcomes not stumbling blocks
- Builds a team environment with a unified goal
- Makes workers more committed and determined
- Increases team enthusiasm
- Stops the fear of failure
- Eliminates the pitfalls of perfection seekers
- Encourages team ownership
- Inspires workers
Research conducted by Microsoft has proven that employees with a growth mindset are far more likely to go after more innovative projects and outcomes. It also encourages collaboration among teams which is the catalyst that drives business success.
Ways to gain a growth mindset in business
How does a business embrace this positive potential? It starts with a strong management style, growth-oriented thinking at the top, and the right people. Dweck recommends getting past the credentials when hiring a team. It isn’t all about the initials next to someone’s name. It’s about the individual and his or her attitude. Businesses need to:
- Hire people who embrace challenges and like to collaborate
- Attract people who want to improve
- Encourage positivity
- Lead by example with flexibility at the top
- Not punish failure
- Encourage team development which increases positive outcomes and innovation
- Look at the big picture – be forward-thinking
Adopting this small business mindset takes time. It’s not an exact science. After all, you are dealing with human beings who have unpredictable variables like emotions. Just remember, the likelihood of harnessing a positive mindset is better when it comes from the top down and is practiced daily throughout the organization.
Nurture innovation and the individual. Encourage risk-taking, and you can power all the possibilities. When you change to a positive mindset, you reset your business clock to Ready, Set, Grow!