Growth mindset has become a bit of a buzzword as of late. But knowing about something and truly understanding it are two very different things. Here are a couple of common misconceptions people have when it comes to comprehending what growth mindset really means.
#1: A growth mindset is not just what you like about yourself.
Many people take what they like about themselves and call it a growth mindset. But even positive traits aren’t necessarily evidence of a growth mindset. In fact, focusing only on the positive may actually be an indication of a fixed mindset. A growth mindset tends to look for the negative things so that they can be improved. They aren’t afraid to admit their deficiencies, so they look for and notice the things that are wrong in order to correct them.
#2: Growth mindset is not just about effort.
Many people believe a growth mindset is only about the effort. The tendency is to praise the effort, regardless of the outcome. But the outcome is important. Without looking at the outcome, you can’t accurately assess whether or not what you tried was successful. It’s not just about the effort; it’s also about the strategy. A growth mindset is not afraid to say, “That didn’t work,” and try again. If you find yourself tending to focus on the effort and ignoring the outcome, you may soon find yourself stuck. Effort is commendable, but it needs to be tied to the outcome.
#3: Growth mindset is not the same as saying you can do anything.
Many people believe fostering a growth mindset in others means telling them, “You can do anything.” But this isn’t quite accurate. It is true that a growth mindset will cause you to try things you wouldn’t have otherwise, but that isn’t the same as having all options available to you. Since a real growth mindset is mindful of the outcome, it’s not afraid to say, “That didn’t work,” and walk away when it recognizes that a particular strategy doesn’t work. Shutting down certain options isn’t scary to people with a growth mindset because they know it’s only a matter of time before they really find the thing that works.
#4: A growth mindset is not binary.
Growth mindset is complicated. Even if you fully grasp what it is, no one has a growth mindset 100% of the time. Mindset author Carol Dweck calls the tendency to say, “I have a growth mindset,” instead of embarking on the long and difficult journey to cultivate it, a false growth mindset. The truth is, we all struggle with a fixed mindset from time to time. It’s important to understand what things act as triggers for you and cause you to slip back into a fixed mindset so you can try to avoid them in the future.
If you want to learn more about teaching or developing your own growth mindset, download our growth mindset ebook here, or schedule a demo with us today.
Terry Schmitz is the founder and owner of The Conover Company. Terry has been involved in the development of assessments for both education and corporations for over 30 years. He has developed hundreds of job-specific assessment systems that link to skill building systems.