Cultivating a Growth Mindset

  • Post last modified:December 19, 2023
  • Post category:Counseling

Are you working toward a goal? Are there dreams you hold that you are not sure you could ever achieve? Cultivating a growth mindset can support you to take concrete steps toward your desires.  

Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset, describes a growth mindset as holding the belief that success depends on time and effort. So, those with a growth mindset believe that they can improve their skills through dedication and energy. This differs from a ‘fixed mindset’ in which one believes that talent and ability are in-born. Dweck says “Although people may differ in every which way in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments, everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”  

Anyone can cultivate a growth mindset. 

We all have a mix of both fixed and growth mindsets. Through experience and intention we can amplify the growth mindset we already have. 

A first step can be reflection on where and when we apply the two mindsets. When do we tell ourselves that the fear of failure is too great to even try? When do we tell ourselves that trying is worth it and that we gain through the process even if it ends in ‘failure’? 

A certain degree of discomfort is inherent in trying new things. The amount, or the complexity, of new things we may try can be limited by the amount of this discomfort we can tolerate. A growth mindset can increase your window of tolerance for this type of discomfort. Starting something new and focusing on learning and discovering through the process can help you to commit more energy to it. By believing that you can improve through practice and effort makes success more likely. As adults, we are used to being capable and it can be emotionally challenging to not be good at something. This challenge, this discomfort, stops a lot of people from growth and potential joys. 

By interrupting a fixed mindset we can transform. With effort and practice, we can change a fixed mindset like “I’m just not good at baking” or “I’ve always been terrible at public speaking” into new skills. 

What skills do you wish to cultivate?