Written by: Donna Carol Gray
Article source: JOY! Magazine
Most of us, if we’re honest, are uncomfortable to expose our vulnerabilities and we’d probably prefer to operate in a zone where we know most things and aren’t challenged too often, for fear of getting things wrong. But there is a whole separate school of thought that embraces challenges as learning opportunities and gets excited about tackling something new, outside of our comfort zones, despite the risk of getting it wrong.
This is a growth mindset
This is a growth mindset – the belief that we don’t and can’t know how to do it all and that skills can be improved over time, through effort and perseverance. People with a growth mindset don’t say, “I can’t do this.” They say, “I can’t do this yet.” They focus more on the process of learning to do something, and the effort put in to improve that skill, than the actual outcome. The mother of the growth mindset, Carol Dweck, says, “In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So, rather than thinking, oh, I’m going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here is a chance to grow.” What does this mean for us and our approach to making mistakes, trying new things, and developing new skills? It means that instead of allowing our fears to restrict us – fear of failure, of letting others down, or of being perceived as not experienced enough – we approach life with the view that everyone has the ability to learn and improve, without shame or judgement, including ourselves.
Cultivating a growth mindset
Cultivating a growth mindset starts with our thoughts. Our thoughts influence our emotions, which influence our actions and behaviours. When we harness our critical and destructive thoughts and reframe them to more positive, encouraging thoughts based on evidence that we have grown and learnt new things in the past, we can move forward from a position that is more open to learning and challenges, a position that encourages perseverance. Developing a growth mindset doesn’t happen overnight, but it can be cultivated by mindfully capturing each negative thought about our abilities, mistakes, and weaknesses and intentionally replacing them with more positive, reinforcing thoughts. Each time we intentionally do this, we communicate to our brains that it should build new connections that focus on the good rather than the critical. These new connections then form new maps that our thought processes follow, which over time become our reframed way of thinking.
Benefits of a growth mindset
As you foster a growth mindset, you’ll develop a reframed approach to challenges, you’ll be more motivated through setbacks, and you’ll handle stressful situations more calmly. With time, you’ll bolster your resilience and become more willing to embrace learning and growth. After all, most things are difficult before they become easy.
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Date published: 15/11/2023
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