Growth – the fifth pillar of Positive Resilience
PEOPLE WHO HAVE A GROWTH MINDSET HAVE LOWER STRESS, MORE MOTIVATION, BETTER RELATIONSHIPS AND HIGHER PERFORMANCE
Today we’re moving on to the fifth of the peoplewise 7 Pillars of Positive Resilience, the science and practice of developing mastery over our ability to not just cope with disruption and challenges but thrive and reach our full potential for happiness and success. This fifth pillar is Growth.
How would you like to bounce forward and fulfil your potential? All you need is to develop a Growth mindset: the belief that your capabilities in any area of your life can be improved, and that developing your skills and abilities is worthwhile.1,2,3,4 Someone high in Growth believes in self-challenge and sees failure as opportunity to grow and learn.
A growth mindset is what enables people to not only bounce back from setbacks but to bounce forward so that they adapt, learn, and grow from their experiences. They have greater comfort with taking personal risks and striving for more stretching goals, higher motivation, enhanced brain development across wider ranges of tasks, lower stress, anxiety and depression, better work relationships and higher performance levels.
What does this look like? Someone with a growth mindset loves learning, sees challenges as opportunities, and perseveres through frustrations and setbacks.1,2,3,4 Someone like Malala Yousafzi, shot in the head by Taliban extremists on her way to school, who had such a strong love of learning she risked her life every day to attend school. She has gone on to become the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner, graduate from Oxford University and start a non-profit foundation ‘working for a world where every girl can learn and lead’. Or Thomas Edison, who famously remarked that he had not failed to find a way to build a light bulb, he had just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.
Alternatively, someone with a more fixed mindset – who thinks that their capabilities are fixed and unlikely to change – is unwilling to try new things and gives up easily. They are also likely to fear failure, because people with fixed mindsets tend to identify with their capabilities (e.g. “I’m good at Maths”), and worry that if they fail, people will judge them, not their work.1,2
We all have a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets about different aspects of our lives. For example, you may feel you ‘can’t draw’ and assume there’s nothing you can do about improving your artistic ability, but at the same time see yourself as someone who is musical, expecting to be able to master playing new instruments with enough focus and practice.
The first step to developing a growth mindset is to identify where your thinking is more fixed and challenge it. Think about your capabilities – where do you see yourself learning, growing, and developing, and where have you decided there is little chance of change? Then pick an area you would like to develop and start to question your mindset. Do this by recognising that you have already learned very many things – at the very least walking, speaking at least one language, reading, writing, and using a mobile phone! What helped you learn those things? Usually it is a process of trying something new, struggling and maybe failing, picking yourself up and trying again with a slightly different approach and/or help and encouragement from others. What can you try differently in the area you’ve decided to develop? How can you take baby learning steps? Who might be able to help?
References and further reading
- Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’, Education Week, September 2015.
- What having a Growth Mindset Actually means, Carol Dweck, Harvard Business Review, January 2016
- 12 Advantages Of A Growth Mindset That Could Accelerate Your Career, Forbes.com, July 2019
- Your biggest asset for academic career success? A growth mindset | Times Higher Education (THE), Times Higher Educational Supplement, February 2018