What does it take to develop a Growth Mindset?
Well, let’s start with a quiz.
A one question test.
Are you artistic?
The average person, sampled at large, will respond ‘no’ to that question. They will know someone who is (their brother, best friend in college, or the local pottery maker) but they themselves are not. I used to refer to myself as unartistic. Many of my drawings are unidentifiable.
Growing up, I even remember that one time I drew a picture of me riding a horse and someone commented, “That’s a great looking pig.”
Clearly, I’m not artistic, right?
Our ability for growth, adaptation, change, and holistic mental health all depends on the perspectives that we carry.
There is a huge difference between saying I’m not artistic and I may not have natural drawing capabilities but if I practiced I could learn.
One, defines our attributes as fixed. They are static traits that we were either born with or without. You were either born an artist or you weren’t. You’re either a natural mathematician or you aren’t. Genes have already determined whether or not you will have the aptitude for biology or if you were naturally selected without the proper molecules to understand it.
This mindset, often called the “fixed mindset” is one that is often taught to us at a variety of stages. As children, we very quickly learn (and are taught, unfortunately) where we fit with our gifts.
You either have ‘it’ or you don’t.
Slowly but surely, we have also learned to believe this. It’s why many reading this would admit that they aren’t artists. In Kindergarten maybe you were, but by fifth grade you had discovered that you made a mistake. You’re not an artist, you could never do that, so instead you’re a _______.
In contrast to this is what’s now known as the “growth mindset.” It acknowledges that we all have certain natural gifts and talents, but also says that you can learn new skills and talents with a proper attitude and determination.
Popularized by Stanford professor Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The Psychology of Success, a growth mindset is what teaches us new skills and abilities.
A growth mindset is the difference between me not being an artist and being one with skills that I need to work on and improve. A growth mindset allows us to dive in to new topics and perspectives. It allows us to adapt and change our understanding of our skills and the world around us.
A growth mindset is the cornerstone for us developing holistic mental health.
Instead of saying, “I’m not an artist” reframe your perspective. “I want to work on and develop my artistic abilities.”
“I’m not creative” becomes “I’ll engage in activities that enhance my creative abilities.”
I’m not a __________.
Yes, you are, and you can put yourself in situations that will lead to your success and pull it out of you.
It all starts with our mindset and our perspective.
Last week, in our introduction to mental health, we discovered the many ways we can grow, engage in, and learn new things. Books, podcasts, lectures, classes, trips, your ability to engage in topics and presentations is almost limitless in today’s technology saturated world.
And it also creates the chance for you to learn new skills, techniques, hobbies, or interests at an alarming rate. Suddenly, the financial advisor that loves working with numbers can take a class on molecular biology, medieval social customs, or ancient history. Each class, perspective, and hobby not only engages our brain and teaches us new skills, but can actually make us better at our current job.
Because the greatest levels of creativity and innovation often come from outside of our own personal discipline. The ability for us to introduce cross-discipline understandings of situations leads to breakthroughs.
And it’s in that sphere: the space of personal passion, professional discipline, and self-care the we create mentally strong habits that keep us healthy and benefit the world.