Growth mindset brain

Growth mindset is a hot topic in schools. Heard of it?

If you’re unfamiliar, growth mindset is a learning theory developed by Stanford University professor Carol Dweck. Dweck spent years researching success and failure, and came to the conclusion that how we tackle learning comes from one of two “mindsets”: fixed or growth.

Someone with a fixed mindset believes our basic abilities (intelligence, talents) are static. That is, we live with what we’re born with; we don’t have the capacity to learn and grow and change.

Someone with a growth mindset, however, knows that the brain changes and grows when we use it. Learning is everything; our intelligence and talents can be developed and improved. When we encounter failure, we understand it’s an opportunity to learn.

Want to see more? Check out the characteristics of the two mindsets.

For children, a fixed mindset sounds like this: “I’m not good at reading”, “I can’t draw” or “I’m bad at math”. They have a hard time recovering from a setback, and they’re hesitant to challenge themselves.

As adults, many of us do this too: “I’m too old for this”, “I’m not good with new technology”, or “I already know what works for me”. Sound familiar?

The good news? It’s not too late to develop a growth mindset – it just takes a little practice.


Develop a growth mindset

Did you know that learning – at any age – has a profound impact on the brain?

Read this article about how learning to read as an adult changes your brain.

That’s what the growth mindset advocates: challenge yourself with something new, and your brain will form newer, stronger connections.

As Dweck herself will tell you, adopting a growth mindset is all about embracing the power of “yet”. You don’t know something … yet. You can’t do it … yet. Even as an adult, you’re on a learning curve and your effort, focus and perseverance are what will help you continue to grow.

That thing you’ve been wanting to learn? Do it.
That course you’ve wanted to take? Start it.

It’s never too late.

13 ways to develop a growth mindset

Much like having a growth mindset, developing one is a learning journey. But it’s one that will get you results. Here are a few ways you can start adopting a growth mindset around your work and learning.

  1. Accept opportunities that push you out of your comfort zone – challenges are chances.
  2. You don’t know what you don’t know. Ask questions!
  3. Appreciate obstacles – growth comes from struggle.
  4. Mistakes are an important part of the process.
  5. Skills are built, not born. They’re yours if you work for them.
  6. Choose learning well over learning fast.
  7. Reward efforts and actions, not traits. (Don’t praise intelligence, praise perseverance, effort, and improvement.)
  8. Don’t be threatened by feedback and criticism – use it to support you in your learning instead.
  9. Think of learning as “brain training”.
  10. Always reflect on what you’ve learned.
  11. Actively seek out new things. The more you do, the more you learn.
  12. Just because you haven’t seen change, doesn’t mean you won’t. Stick at it.
  13. Your brain has the ability to change throughout your life. Never stop.


With thanks to MindsetWorks.