Failure can be hard to take. Most of us like to think of ourselves as capable people, and failure can fly in the face of that belief. Failure though is a part of learning, and embracing it can make you more successful in everything you do. Developing a growth mindset helps us overcome failure and turn perceived setbacks into learning opportunities. How can such a simple concept have such profound ramifications? What are the effects of a growth mindset?
The benefits of having a growth mindset are largely built around processes and beliefs. When we believe that following the process and putting in the effort leads to success, we can make great things happen. The importance of a growth mindset is hard to overstate when it comes to facing challenges head on and overcoming adversity.
Before we dig into the benefits of having a growth mindset, let’s look at what this special kind of mindset entails.
What is a Growth Mindset?
In very simple terms, a growth mindset is the belief that you can do anything you set your mind to. Maybe not at first, but with some will and determination, a growth mindset enables us to overcome obstacles. Our skills and understanding will grow and become stronger. This allows us to tackle complex problems one step at a time. It is a belief in life-long learning.
Most hard workers who have achieved success have gotten where they are because of their growth mindset. In most cases, those with growth mindsets naturally pursue more challenging and interesting endeavors. While a person with a fixed mindset typically avoids activities that fall outside of their comfort zone, a person with a growth mindset will gravitate toward those very activities. The former operates with a fear of failure, while the latter operates with the knowledge that they will succeed or that failure is a learning opportunity towards success. These differences stem from the individual’s mindset.
The Growth Mindset Journey
There is also an appreciation for the journey. A quick arrival at proficiency or perfection is not the way people with growth mindsets measure success. They simply desire to grow and aren’t afraid to put the work in and possibly fail. It’s an empowering way to move through the world.
What is a Fixed Mindset?
The opposite of a growth mindset is known as a fixed mindset. People with fixed mindsets believe we’re born with talents and skill sets that define who we are and will be. Some of us are good at arts. Some of us aren’t. Some of us are athletes. Some of us aren’t. Some of us can do math. Some of us cannot. If you were ever told that you weren’t born to be an athlete or artist or mathematician, you’ve experienced this first hand.
Many of us are born with innate abilities. We may be natural athletes or academics or artists and success comes naturally to us in those fields. But that’s not the case for everyone and it is not the case for everyone in everything. All of us have to work for something if we want to get better at it. Also, innate talent only takes anyone so far. Even if you are talented at something, you can always get better. We have to grow. This work can seem an insurmountable task for those with a fixed mindset. As a result, that fixed mindset often leads to negative thinking patterns and stifles our ability to learn new things and gain competency.
When people believe they either have talent or they don’t, and there’s no in-between, it’s a very helpless feeling. It can also cause us to react poorly to criticism and see other peoples’ successes as personal failures. Many will give up over the stress of it all. Others will succeed through thick skin and sheer determination. Despite the occasional success story, in the battle between growth vs. fixed mindsets, a growth mindset produces far better results. We must nurture our abilities so nature doesn’t hold us back.
What are the Benefits of Having a Growth Mindset?
As you may have guessed, the benefits of having a growth mindset are many. These benefits span the gamut from increased self-esteem to a better ability to tackle tough tasks. Adopting this mindset, better equips us for facing future challenges. Let’s look at some of the benefits of having a growth mindset and how you can adopt one yourself.
We Learn More Valuable Skills
The more expansive and varied our skill sets, the more capable we become. Through experience, we develop the traits necessary to address and tackle new challenges. People with growth mindsets have a tendency to learn more skills because they are less afraid to try. The fear of failure has led many people to avoid trying altogether. If more of us were less afraid to try, who knows what we could accomplish? Start with the small things and grow.
We Become Less Afraid of Challenges
Failure can be an insurmountable hurdle or an opportunity to learn and grow. When we give up at every failure, we don’t ever experience the joy that comes with overcoming failure. Having a growth mindset means we will surely succeed in overcoming at least some of that adversity. Challenges aren’t seen as a bad thing with a growth mindset. They are simply problems to be solved. If we have the fortitude to tackle them head on, we put more successes under our belts and fear less.
We’re More Adaptable to Change
People with growth mindsets also tend to deal with change better than others. This is due to the fact that growth feeds on change. When we are accustomed to growth, change doesn’t seem so daunting. We fall back on our processes and know things will work out.
We assess the situation and identify our strengths and weaknesses. We develop the skills we need to tackle the problem. We are unafraid to try and possibly fail. We see those failures as learning opportunities. We get up and try again. We will eventually succeed. All that adversity and experience sets us up for the next challenge, and we’ll go into it fearlessly, or at least not drowning in it.
A Growth Mindset Helps Identify Opportunities Instead of Excuses
One of the most valuable benefits of having a growth mindset is that it makes us adept at problem solving. Where someone with a fixed mindset might say it can’t be done, someone with a growth mindset explores options. The growth mindset is a natural complement to a science mindset.
Some challenges we face certainly may be unsolvable, but those instances are somewhat rare. With the right attitude, we can often identify simple solutions to seemingly insurmountable obstacles. We identify and test hypotheses, and our overall understanding is improved as a result.
A Growth Mindset Delivers a Self-Esteem Boost
With a growth mindset, we don’t tie past successes and failures to our sense of worth. That freedom from self-judgment results in lower stress levels and a greater overall sense of worth. The self-esteem boost we get from learning from failure means we are more likely to find solutions rather than excuses. This ultimately leads us to be happier people. This is one of those growth mindset benefits that can improve our lives on nearly every level.
We Become Happier People
One of the greatest benefits of having a growth mindset is that it can help us be happy. It does this through a couple different channels. First, we don’t see setbacks as failures, but rather as learning opportunities. We also don’t fear the successes of others. We observe both their failures and successes and take notes. We then apply those lessons to our own lives and careers. By disallowing negative thinking to drag us down, we allow ourselves the opportunity to be happy.
Developing a Growth Mindset
We don’t have to be born with a growth mindset to reap its benefits. By simply paying attention and choosing a positive growth mindset, we can become more successful problem solvers. It’s not always easy to develop, but the benefits of having a growth mindset are worth the effort. Here are some tips to help get you there.
Identify Your Weaknesses
It’s hard to address weaknesses when we don’t identify them. Ignoring the things we find challenging usually results in our remaining weak in those areas. Take an honest inventory of the things you find challenging. Pick small things and overcome them one at a time. Those little wins will give you the confidence to try new things, no matter how daunting they may seem sometimes. They may even help you develop new skills that allow you to tackle ever harder problems.
As humans, we love to project the image that we’re skilled and successful people. We’ll avoid the activities and situations that make us look unskilled or unsuccessful. That’s a big driver that leads those with fixed mindsets to entirely avoid things they don’t feel confident in. Taking risks, however, is a big part of developing a growth mindset.
The worst case scenario of taking risks is that we fail and try again. We learn from our failed attempts and we grow. That gives us a better shot at succeeding the next time around. Best case scenario is that we succeed and get a major confidence boost. In short, don’t let a fear of failure deter you from taking risks.
Put it into Practice
The best way to get good at something is to practice. Your new growth mindset is no different. The more you consciously practice, the more you’ll reap the benefits of having a growth mindset every day.
Take time to breathe. Understand that the journey is valuable and that you’ll eventually accomplish what you’re after with a little perseverance. Even with little innate ability, many people have willed their way to achieving their wildest dreams.
Develop a Growth Mindset at a Young Age
The earlier we adopt a growth mindset, the easier it will be for us to maintain that mindset into adulthood. We learn to confront challenges and adapt to change. We see our failures become successes. We know that we can achieve the things we put our minds to. It’s much easier to adopt a growth mindset when we’re young than to try to reverse years of negative thinking.
Teach Students How to Develop their Growth Mindset
One of the greatest gifts we can give the youth is the ability to persevere and overcome obstacles. If you’re in a position to help young people develop positive growth mindsets, you’ll get great benefits from it too. The more students we can reach, the better.
If you aren’t directly involved in the educational process, you can still help the students in your community. NTC offers programs that reinforce the power and importance of both a growth mindset and STEM learning. The two go hand in hand and prepare students for the future. In a fast changing world, where work across every industry is transitioning faster and faster, helping students develop a growth mindset can support them in fulfilling roles in emerging careers. Supporting STEM learning and career pathways education outreach programming can prepare students for this rapidly-changing future.
Mindset is Everything
You may have heard the saying, “mindset is everything.” It may sound like a cliche motivational saying, but it does hold truth. The right kind of mindset can set us up for success in whatever we try. On the other hand, the wrong kind of mindset can turn everything we attempt into an uphill battle. Taking these steps to develop and reap the benefits of having a growth mindset positively impact us all. Give it a try, and you may witness your Iife unfold in a positive and beautiful way.