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Three Common Misconceptions about a Growth Mindset

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Growth vs Fixed Mindset

Three Common Misconceptions about a Growth Mindset

Carol Dweck’s work on Growth vs Fixed Mindset has gained significant following.  It’s relevant to every aspect of our lives, including our work lives.  But she’s found many of us are taking too high-level a view; or are just getting it wrong.

A Growth Mindset helps us be much more successful than we would be without one.  It’s an excellent example of the power of Attitude over IQ.

Here’s an excerpt from a HBR worth reading:  https://hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means

Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts).

…three common misconceptions:

  1. I already have it, and I always have.
    People often confuse a growth mindset with being flexible or open-minded or with having a positive outlook — qualities they believe they’ve simply always had. My colleagues and I call this a false growth mindset. Everyone is actually a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets, and that mixture continually evolves with experience. A “pure” growth mindset doesn’t exist, which we have to acknowledge in order to attain the benefits we seek.
  2. A growth mindset is just about praising and rewarding effort.
    This isn’t true for students in schools, and it’s not true for employees in organizations. In both settings, outcomes matter. Unproductive effort is never a good thing. It’s critical to reward not just effort but learning and progress, and to emphasize the processes that yield these things, such as seeking help from others, trying new strategies, and capitalizing on setbacks to move forward effectively. In all of our research, the outcome — the bottom line — follows from deeply engaging in these processes.
  3. Just espouse a growth mindset, and good things will happen.
    Mission statements are wonderful things. You can’t argue with lofty values like growth, empowerment, or innovation. But what do they mean to employees if the company doesn’t implement policies that make them real and attainable? They just amount to lip service. Organizations that embody a growth mindset encourage appropriate risk-taking, knowing that some risks won’t work out. They reward employees for important and useful lessons learned, even if a project does not meet its original goals. They support collaboration across organizational boundaries rather than competition among employees or units. They are committed to the growth of every member, not just in words but in deeds, such as broadly available development and advancement opportunities. And they continually reinforce growth mindset values with concrete policies.

It’s hard work, but individuals and organizations can gain a lot by deepening their understanding of growth-mindset concepts and the processes for putting them into practice. It gives them a richer sense of who they are, what they stand for, and how they want to move forward.https://hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means


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