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Applied Psychology

What is a Growth Mindset?

Jun 08, 2022 | By Saranne Durham
What is a Growth Mindset? - Global SACAP

Having a growth mindset changes our perspective of what is possible and how we interact with the world around us. It fine-tunes our response to what challenges we take on. It’s applicable across a wide range of contexts and often determines whether we have the stamina to successfully tackle challenges. Thus, a growth mindset is an asset worth developing as it can impact our achievement rate of endeavours. So, what is it exactly? And how does one go about developing a growth mindset?

“A fixed mindset within specific contexts is a necessity. However, in others, it creates limitations.”

Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset

According to expert researcher and psychologist, Dr Carol Dweck, we all have both growth and fixed mindsets towards different things.

A fixed mindset can sometimes be valuable in that it relates to beliefs about our limitations. For example, flying unaided. No matter how much we practice, by jumping off a step and flapping our arms or diving, we can’t learn to fly. It’s simply not possible to develop it as a skill. Having a fixed mindset within this context is necessary. As it is linked to our survival instincts and can thus be lifesaving. However, if one has a fixed mindset when it comes to evaluating abilities and potential, then it is a hindrance. People who have a fixed mindset believe that basic qualities are fixed and therefore, things like intellect and talent can’t be fostered or advanced much beyond what you’re born with. Essentially, either you have it or you don’t. You’re talented or you’re not.

“Exercising persistence, a love of learning and embracing challenges leads to more successful outcomes.”

In contrast, a growth mindset means that you believe that your basic abilities- intelligence, musicality, sporting prowess, people skills to name a few – can be developed. Thus, you have latent potential which can actively be grown, even if the ability doesn’t come easily to you. Success isn’t based on natural talent. Those with a growth mindset are prepared to develop their intellect and talents through hard work.

What it Means to have a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset isn’t automatic. Nor is it just a state of mind or decision in how we approach things. It takes a conscious decision to have a growth mindset and a continuous effort to ensure that it’s maintained.

It’s quite easy to confuse a growth mindset with a positive outlook or open mind. These are good attributes. But, quite different from knowing one’s competencies, then setting-out to grow them through a learning process. And within this process, believing you can improve with sufficient effort, feedback and support. This is what it means to have a growth mindset. And why having one, results in seeking to learn and ceaselessly growing your skill set. Thus, being tenacious while you actively do this.

“Effort matters within a growth mindset outlook.”

One of the results of having a growth mindset is that we help ourselves to overcome obstacles that may arise. In this process of learning, our self-esteem improves which helps us believe we can successfully conquer bigger and bigger challenges. Thus, we are prepared to take risks and in doing so expand our potential further as well as achieve more.

“Having a growth mindset has a positive impact across many areas in life.”

Those with a fixed mindset, often give up more quickly when faced with challenges than those with a growth mindset. This creates a self-defeating cycle whereby they believe they proved themselves right about their fixed mindset outlook. Sometimes they may not even try, because they are scared of failing and think they should naturally be good at something. Thus, they stifle their potential and keep themselves at their believed ability level. This is an important distinction for those at school, doing tertiary studies or wanting to learn more in their adult careers. It will dictate how well they do in their studies and how much confidence they have to apply what they’ve been taught.

How to Develop a Growth Mindset

The first step towards developing it, is to believe that a growth mindset is possible and can be successfully nurtured. It is also important to believe that you can do this at any age or stage of life. It is not dependent on your education, experience or current skills.

Do you want to learn more about how to develop your growth mindset? Sign up for SACAP Global’s nano course, Developing a Growth Mindset. This course takes approximately 10 hours to complete. It will help you to shift your mindset towards one that empowers you to actualise your abilities.

Choose SACAP Global for a Growth Mindset

SACAP Global offers a range of online micro-credentials and short courses. These are ideal online learning opportunities for working professionals that want to invest in skills development. They provide structure as well as target content, such that you can learn strategically. Therefore, these specialised short courses are a great way to boost your understanding in a specific area, while growing your career potential. Register today to start your lifelong learning journey.

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