As parents, we have so many things we want to teach our kids, from wearing a mask properly, using the Internet safely, handling victory and defeat with grace…But if you can only pass on one piece of wisdom, I think this could be a contender - the Growth Mindset!
The terms growth mindset and fixed mindset was coined by Professor Carol Dweck, an American psychologist and author of Mindset – a book that has sold more than a million copies since publication.
In simple terms these types of mindsets describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence.
People with a growth mindset believe that intelligence and abilities can be developed through effort, persistence, trying different strategies and learning from mistakes.
Those with a fixed mindset believe their basic qualities, like intelligence or talent, are fixed traits, and talent alone creates success – ignoring effort.
As you can imagine, the view your child adopts about themselves profoundly affects the way they lead their life. Naturally, the same is true for adults!
Learn from your mistakes
We often say or hear we should learn from our mistakes, but depending on your mindset, this can have very different meanings. Those with a fixed mindset feel ashamed by failures. Their talent should have been enough, and the failure should never have happened.
They give up easily and view temporary setbacks as permanent failures which leads them to avoid challenges to prevent the possibility of failure.
On the other hand, someone with a growth mindset will see mistakes as an opportunity for growth, accepting setbacks are part of the learning process. Thomas Edison famously said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”
The growth mindset embraces challenges and believes that effort, practice, and failure can lead to mastery. It only took more than 3,000 attempts for Edison and his associates to develop an efficient incandescent lamp!
The power of yet
Evolution has programmed humans to seize the reward at hand, we have a natural desire to avoid delay and yearn for immediate results. Think about the number of adverts you’ve seen that claim to help you “Get rich fast” or “Lose 10Kg in 2 weeks”. The truth is results take time and effort.
Learning the multiplier table, a new instrument or sport, and for adults, perhaps attaining professional qualification, buying your first home, or growing your business, chances are we will experience setback.
How we approach these setbacks will determine how successful we are or not. Having said that, setbacks can be tough, especially when you are in the thick of it, sometimes it may even seem like it’s the end of the world!
To better equip our children and ourselves against setbacks is the power of…YET.
I can’t do this…YET
I’m not good at this… YET
I don’t understand this… YET
I don’t know the answer…YET
This doesn’t work… YET
This doesn’t make sense… YET
Adding this simple 3 letter word “YET” to the end of your sentences can have a massive psychological impact. Applying a growth mindset, you know that through effort, practice, and persistence, you will attain your goal or achieve mastery.
If you subscribe to the notion that it’s not intelligence or talent, but rather effort that leads to success, then it’s important to praise effort, focus, perseverance, and improvement. Dweck argues that by praising the process, it leads to more persistence and, ultimately, better results.
All too often when we see an athlete win gold or a musician giving a stellar performance, we conclude "they're so talented”. When you drill down though, was it really talent or was it the hundred of hours of practice and numerous failed attempts that got them the result?
If you asked me two years ago if my son was talented in music, I would without hesitation say “no”. Yet, today, at 6 years of age, he can play Vivaldi’s Concerto in C Major on his Cello confidently in front of the entire school. How? The “secret” is he practices every day and when things get difficult, we remind him of the power of YET.
The wrap up
Perhaps the most important reason to teach a growth mindset is it encourages children (and adults) to stretch themselves and sticking to it, especially when things are not going well. The growth mindset allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.
One of the best ways to teach is of course to lead by example. So next time when you come across a challenge or think you can’t do something, remind yourself to remove the “t” in can’t and share with others, especially the little ones, how you overcame the challenge by applying your growth mindset.
If you've enjoyed this article, you won't want to miss Professor Dweck's TED talk on The power of yet from 2014, it's good!
And her book Mindset is available on Audible (You can get it free when you sign up for a 30-day trial)
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