Why you need a growth mindset — especially now

The global pandemic has forced us to develop new ways of working, shopping, educating, and socializing, all while trying to keep ourselves, our families, and each other safe — physically, financially, and emotionally. Businesses are facing the sudden need to adapt to changing consumer behavior. And, the public outcry against racial injustice now demands new solutions to a longstanding problem.

As we continue to cope with the unprecedented events confronting our nation and the world, there has never been a more important time to embrace a growth mindset.

What is a growth mindset?

In her groundbreaking book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck describes the difference between a fixed and growth mindset. With a fixed mindset, you believe your intelligence and abilities are static. Essentially, you were born with certain talents that don’t change throughout life. On the other hand, with a growth mindset, you believe your abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.

What type of mindset do you have?

To assess your current mindset, consider how you view failure or criticism:

  • Do you play it safe to avoid making a mistake and to feel successful? Or do you embrace new challenges, even if it means risking failure in the short term?
  • If you fail or receive negative feedback, do you feel like giving up? Or are you driven to keep trying harder?

Those with a growth mindset love to learn and don’t see failure as something to avoid, but rather as a stepping stone toward success. Thomas Edison showed his growth mindset when he famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Why does your mindset matter?

People with a fixed mindset choose tasks and experiences that affirm their existing ability and show how smart and capable they are. People with a growth mindset enjoy challenges and new experiences because their definition of success is becoming smarter. According to Dweck, “After thirty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”

Developing a growth mindset

Here are six ways to develop or strengthen a growth mindset:

  1. Embrace failure. View every setback as an opportunity to learn and grow.
  2. Be curious. Never stop learning — at work and in your personal life.
  3. Accept challenges. Step outside your comfort zone and don’t shy away from obstacles.
  4. Push yourself. Strive to achieve just a little more than you thought possible.
  5. Don’t give up. If you find yourself saying, “I’m not good at this,” just add “… yet.”
  6. Invite feedback. Let go of your defensiveness and treat all input as valuable lessons.

Resilience during challenging times

Another benefit to having a growth mindset is the resilience it gives you when faced with adversity or challenges. “This view,” Dweck says, “creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” Test your resiliency with this interactive quiz.

“Why a Growth Mindset Is Essential For Career Success,” Forbes.com, July 9, 2019.
“What Having a ‘Growth Mindset’ Actually Means,” Harvard Business Review (hbr.org), January 13, 2016.
“Carol Dweck Revisits the Growth Mindset,” www.edweek.org, September 22, 2015.
“The Effort Effect,” Stanfordmag.org, March/April 2007.
“15 Ways to Build a Growth Mindset,” PsychologyToday.com, Apr 11, 2019.
“What Is Growth Mindset? (And Why We All Need It),” BitsofPositivity.com, September 13, 2018.