Below the surface
As a youth specialist, in my day job, I spend quite a bit of time training educators and youth workers on how to help youth develop a growth mindset. I share scientific research with them and evidence-based strategies for moving young people’s mindsets.
However, throughout all of this, I have come to realize that I’m fighting against a hidden resistance. One that’s barely noticeable, and it’s right below the surface.
This hidden enemy is the fixed mindset of the adults in the room. How are we as adults supposed to help the youth in our lives develop growth mindsets when we are taking laps in the deep end of our own fixed mindset pools?
The older we get the more “hardwired” our brains become towards behaviors and beliefs. Adults tend to have more fully developed fixed mindsets than the young. This is why it is more difficult for adults to acquire a new language than children.
Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset
A fixed mindset is the belief that one’s personal qualities like intelligence, talents and abilities are fixed. You either have it or you don’t. You can do it or you can’t.
This kind of mindset can be readily found in us as adults. Developing a growth mindset can be life changing. Refusing to accept the “hardwired” mentality and instead adopting a plasticity mindset is the shift that puts you on the path towards development.
Growth mindset is the belief that one’s personal qualities are not fixed or predetermined, but rather can be continuously fostered for growth.
This concept was first documented by Dr Carol Dweck. This mindset involves the concept of neural plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to grow, stretch, and develop new and more complex pathways. Having a growth mindset will develop a love for learning according to Dr. Dweck.
I may not be able to throw a beautifully spiraled football like an NFL quarterback, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t.
What does that mean?
It means that if I had a growth mindset, then I would believe that if I put in the effort to learn, to practice correctly through repetition, and to do my due diligence consistently, I can eventually “grow my brain” to be able to throw a spiral football.
Now my throw may not go 40 yards down the field, but I could at least make the throw consistently. You could think of it as me developing muscle memory. But the key word there is develop.
If you’re reading this and thinking...Yeah right, that’s never going to work, then you probably have a fixed mindset.
Why should you develop a growth mindset?
Having a growth mindset can cause you to move toward deliberate practice and build your stick-to-it-ness, which in turn can help you achieve your goals and happiness.
How does an adult develop a growth mindset?
I hope you’re ready to develop a growth mindset in any area of your life that has a fixed mindset. Modeling a growth mindset is important, especially if you have kids. Kids need a growth mindset, and seeing it practiced by you will set them up for success. I discuss this more in my post on developing a growth mindset in youth.
Remember to keep a live, learn and grow mindset!
That's Cynthia's Mindset on How to Develop a Growth Mindset for Adults.
Be sure to share your mindset in the comments below and with others.