I was recently reading an article about the research of Stanford psychology Professor Carol Dweck who studies how mindset affects learning. In one example, she observed children attempting to complete progressively more difficult puzzles. Some of the children became frustrated, upset, and stopped attempting the puzzles while others became excited, invigorated, and pursued on. What is the difference? When the children were asked about the puzzle tasks, it seems their mindset impacted how they viewed the tasks, which then impacted their emotional and behavioral response.
Those children who had a growth mindset viewed the challenge of the more difficult puzzles as a learning opportunity. Whereas those with a fixed mindset viewed the challenge of the more difficult puzzles as a failure and a demonstration of their lack of skills.
This is a great example of the different impact of believing that traits and skills are malleable and changeable (i.e. growth mindset) versus static and fixed (i.e. fixed mindset). So for yourself and those around you, such as children or students, how can you can foster a growth mindset?
1. Do some reading and educate yourself and others about the neuroscience of learning. View your mind as a muscle to be exercised.
2. Focus on and praise efforts and the learning process rather than achievements and traits. For example, “you really ran after that ball today” rather than “you did a good job” or “you are a good soccer player.”
3. Interrupt a negative mindset. If we believe that we are “not creative,” we will look for instances that reaffirm this belief. So instead, look for instances that contradict this belief.
We can change and learn yet that only occurs if we set forth effort and we set forth effort only if we believe we can change and learn.