Simple Steps To Adopting A Growth Mindset

Feb 22, 2021


Have you heard about the importance of adopting a “growth mindset?” Lately, it seems like the new buzzword has been popping up all over the place, from the realm of education, leadership, business and even parenting spheres. Experts explain that a person’s mindset influences their ability to solve problems, achieve greater success, learn from their mistakes and have greater emotional resiliency. When you consider these skills and attributes, it’s no surprise that the concept of growth mindset is gaining popularity and more people are trying to build it into their personal, professional and parental practices.

The idea of growth mindset is grounded in neuroscience, it’s more than just some new personal wellness phenomenon. It relates to neuroplasticity; the idea that a person’s brain physically changes over time with attention, repetition and practice. Essentially, as you learn your brain changes shape, just like a muscle changes and grows with exercise!

Many times, people think “this is just the way I am” or “I’m not ever going to be good at this” but the truth is, when we devote our attention to change, when we practice a new skill or habit over and over, with time, we transform! Embracing a growth mindset encourages us to buy into this reality and to make subtle shifts in how we think about learning, solving problems and making mistakes. Simply put, adopting a growth mindset is as simple as saying “I can’t do this… YET.”

So, what are some ways you can shift yourself to a growth-oriented mindset? Is it really as simple as adding the word “yet” to every self-doubt? Thanks to neuroplasticity, yes and no. The more we focus on a growth mindset, the more naturally it will come to us. And in the meantime, here are some other strategies that you can use to build your own capacity as well as support others, children included:

  • Focus on the process of learning, instead of the outcome. How did it feel when you were learning to do something? How do you feel now? How much effort did the task take? What can you try to do differently next time?
  • Celebrate learning by finding stories where people display perseverance and growth – my personal favourite is Mindset, by Carol Dweck. If you have children, there are lots of children’s books and movies to choose from, and I would recommend Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty.
  • Choose your praise carefully. Constantly telling yourself “Good job!” or “You got 100%” can lead to a fixed mindset.  Putting emphasis on how hard you worked, or how much you have improved, helps to reiterate the concept of growing. For young children, phrases like these have a huge impact on their developing minds!
  • Create a challenge board! Post sticky notes with different kinds of challenges on it, from “Complete 100 push ups” to “Make a souffle.” Seeing tasks that are challenging to different people may inspire you or your child to tackle something new, or at the very least to talk about the ways in which we can all grow!

In today’s world, there is so much pressure to be perfect. Adopting a growth mindset and embracing neuroplasticity opens space for grace and self-love. And if you’re anything like me, that’s something that you could use in your day to day life. Feeling scared that this is one more thing to add to your to-do list, like drinking water or exercising more often? That’s okay too!

Remember: you are still learning, too.

Written by Celeste McIllhargey