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Five Tips to Cultivate a “Growth Mindset” at Work

by Danielle Foster

Our last post contrasted a Growth Mindset with a Fixed Mindset. People with a growth mindset believe that dedication and hard work can develop or enhance skills, talent and intelligence. Those with a fixed mindset, on the other hand, believe that all they have to work with are the intelligence and innate talents they acquired at birth. They operate on the assumption that the success they achieve comes less from effort than from the abilities they were born with.

If you’d like to cultivate a growth mindset and make progress in your career, here are five tips to get you going.

  1. Start with self
    1. Evaluate yourself for fixed mindset tendencies.
    2. Write out a plan to further develop your innate talents.
    3. Challenge yourself to seek out opportunities for self-improvement.

Growth starts with the individual, so it’s important to ask yourself if you are actually part of the problem. Are there ways you could be less defensive about the mistakes you make? Could you learn and profit from the feedback you get? Are there ways you can find or create more learning experiences for yourself?

  1. Set learning goals vs. performance goals

How you set goals can obviously influence the mindset you bring to work. As Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck explains, the type of goal you set often reflects whether you’re approaching tasks and goals with a growth or a fixed mindset.

  1. Ask for helpful feedback (not just praise or recognition)

When you finish a project, ask for feedback on what you might improve the next time you face a similar challenge. Not just whether your work was good or bad, amazing or just acceptable. Getting too much praise can tempt us to fall into a fixed mindset. While it is certainly beneficial to get positive reinforcement for work that is well done, we must also dig deep into areas that may need improvement. Once you begin making progress, the feedback you get will be even more gratifying — because you’ve worked hard to earn it.

  1. Use deliberate practice

Deliberate practice is the technique of taking a systematic approach to building skills. Rather than just going through the motions, it means going into each session with a specific, challenging goal, getting feedback along the way, and adapting and trying new things to improve your performance.

  1. Regularly revisit and reassess long-term goals

A growth mindset requires connecting our work to a larger purpose. And the only way to do this is to be aware of your long-term goals and keep a plan in mind. To stay on track, take the time needed to regularly review your efforts to develop your skills and talents and make sure those efforts align with progress toward your goals.