How to Be A Growth-Mindset
There was a famous saying among the counter-culture during the 1960s that it was better to become than to be. Growth-mindsets are always in the process of becoming, while fixed-mindsets always think that they already have to be. As a society, if we were able to effectively change most of our fixed-mindsets to growth-mindsets we would solve a lot of the world’s problems. As individuals, making that shift from fixed-mindset to growth-mindset wouldn’t make our lives perfect, but it sure would make them richer.
Andrew Carnegie understood what it meant to be a growth-mindset person. He once said that he wished to have his epitaph read, “Here lies a man who was wise enough to bring into his service men who knew more than he.” Carnegie is a very rich example who we can all learn from. Lesson: Get around people that are smarter than yourself.
Another way that helps us to become growth-mindset is just knowing that the two mindsets exist. Knowing these mindsets exist will allow us to start thinking about it and consciously choosing to act differently. For example, people are born with the love of learning, at some point, especially during adolescence, that love of learning comes undone for a safer route of not doing anything that will give people a chance to judge them anymore, also known as, a fixed-mindset. We can make the conscious choice to keep making the effort to learn and not worry about being judged. Some of us may even remember that old saying that goes something like this, “When I was 20, I thought everyone was looking at me. When I was 40, I didn’t care anymore who was looking at me. When I was 60, I finally realized that no one had been looking at me.” Let’s not let the fear of what others may be thinking of us keep us from becoming all that we were meant to become.
Beliefs are powerful. Change your beliefs and you can change your mindset. For example, intelligence is not set in stone. Even Alfred Binet, the inventor of the IQ test admits that this test that has been labeling kids for so long, was really designed just to identify children who were not profiting from the Paris public schools, so that new educational programs could be designed to get them back on track. According to Dr. Dweck, Binet said that “With practice, training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgement and literally to become more intelligent than we were before.” Believe it or not! You better believe it!
Robert Sternberg, the present-day guru of intelligence, writes that the major factor in whether people achieve expertise, “is not some fixed prior ability, but purposeful engagement.” Stop believing that you’re smart of not smart. Regardless of where you are, you can choose to, and more importantly, make the effort to become smarter than you presently are. But, first, you have to believe that effort is a good thing, and it’s worth it to work harder. Check your beliefs.
Benjamin Bloom, and eminent educational researcher who after forty years of intensive research on school learning said his major conclusion was, “What any person in the world can learn, almost all persons can learn, if provided with the appropriate prior and current conditions of learning.”
Binet, Sternberg, and Bloom understand that we can all learn under the right conditions. Those right conditions are growth-mindset fed through effort and proper praise that recognizes effort over innate talent and performance. Talent is over-rated here in the United States, as well as, elsewhere in the world. And talent certainly isn’t heroic, like some try to make us believe. What’s so heroic about a gift anyways? You want to know what’s truly heroic? A heroic effort is heroic and worthy of praise, not natural endowments that one didn’t do anything to deserve.
Finally, if you are an adult working with our youth, don’t praise their performance, that only weakens their resolve and lowers their IQ in the end. Recognize and praise their effort and willingness to take on hard things, and to actually fail at hard things and bounce back from them. Now that’s something that is truly heroic and worthy of praise.
In the end we become more through a herculean effort and a growth-mindset.
Daniel Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker, and educator!