Growth Mindset Oriented Environments

Dweck’s findings are proven by the recent breakthroughs in neuroscience that have discovered extra malleability of human brain. With more experience we get, our neurons better connect and attain higher brain plasticity. In this context, it is practice that makes perfect. Neural networks generate advanced connections, which enhance the transmission of impulses. This means that the quality of actions we take predetermines our neural growth. Consequently, we should apply sound strategies to support our daily actions, including our behaviors, chores commitments, professional duties, diets and habits. The neuro-scientific discoveries have indicated a stable interdependence between our mindsets and achievement (Veronikas & Shaughnessy, 2004). If a person believes in intellectual growth, his/her behavior will differ from others. This assumption presupposes that we can change our mindsets from the fixed ones to the growth ones. While growing our mindset, we develop, get motivated and achieve more. In this respect, it is vital to understand the malleability of human intelligence and the growing potential of our brain (Dweck, 2006).

The growth mindset generates inner potential hidden in us and almost unrevealed in the fixed mindset mode. With inner motivation and keen aptitude to the important things in our life, we discover internal resources helping us to achieve set goals and strive for more. For this purpose, it is rather important to develop own strategy (an individual action plan) that will help us to interconnect our inner drive with the intelligence potential. With the growth mindset, people discover new things and from that variety chose their priorities and set strategic goals. Conversely, it is rather hard to transfer from a fixed mindset to the growing one without sound planning and setting achievable goals. On the external level, we achieve the growth mindset owing to people that surround us. Our parents, teachers, tutors and peers are primarily establishing the immediate environment in which we either stagnate or grow intellectually. Establishing the sound immediate environment is of ultimate strategic importance because we grow intellectually by communicating and sharing our thoughts with others. The quality of one’s immediate environment actually predetermines whether we remain in the fixed mindset mode or progress towards the growth mindset. In those cases when our inner drive is insufficient to push us forward to achieve more, we can get additional encouragement, strength and inspiration from the immediate environment. On the other hand, when people that surround us do not add to our strategic priorities, we should change our immediate environment or seek inner resources in us to achieve more (Veronikas & Shaughnessy, 2004).

Beyond family upbringing, we get the first experience of proper environment at school. It is crucial for teachers to provide us with unbiased feedback and encourage us to cope with the challenges rather than to seek an easy way out. The more teachers tell a child how smart they are or praise them, the greater is the likelihood that a child will stagnate in a fixed mindset mode. The strategic task of teachers is to praise only hard work and real achievements to encourage a growth mindset in children (Hutchins, 1995). Only learning by overcoming challenges and learning from own experiences make our mind really working and progressing. This is the only way to increase our abilities and attain more.

Primarily, the transition from a fixed mindset state towards the growing one starts with detecting fixed mindset tendencies in our brain. Then, we should work on the most problematic areas to fill the gaps. This requires continuous and critical self-assessment that will help us become a person we really want to be. Most of us, actually the overwhelming majority of population, need improved motivation to make a difference and achieve the growth mindset. It is only through self-improvement that we are able to develop broadmindedness, brainstorm for ideas, experiment, innovate, and get far more productive. Apparently, the major advantage of the growing mindset over the fixed mindset is that the former helps us to think outside the box and extend the limitations of our worldview and lifestyle. Further, the growing mindset transforms us from imitators to innovators. This means that rather than following and copying others, we gradually turn into self-made leaders and generators of innovative ideas. The same is with the most companies while most of them are mere imitators of what is innovated by the genuine market leaders. Just as in the corporate environment, striving for the growing mindset makes us develop into more competent and self-sufficient individuals. Therefore, rather than imitating and following others, we turn into leaders for ourselves, the ones capable of setting own startups or becoming self-made entrepreneurs rather than working for others (Aldhous, 2008).

From the psychological perspective, the major benefit of growth mindset is that it saves us from intellectual stagnation and all the subsequent consequences and aggregates our self-esteem and inner confidence. With more we know, we explore more opportunities and more feasible solutions to the problems. The continuous progress assumed by the growing mindset, however, is always a risky challenge. Though it only shows how life teaches us through stumbles and falls, and eventually makes us stronger, smarter, and more open-minded to what it can offer. On the other hand, people forever set in the fixed mindset are always groaning. Rather than seeking new opportunities and overcoming challenges, they complain about how hard life strikes them and seek help from others. The almost total passivity (fixed mindset) deprives them from the new opportunities and alternative approaches to the challenges. With the conservative thinking mode, they distort new ideas, avoid risks and challenges. Set within the box (or actually canned), they are highly unlikely to reap the enormous benefits life has on offer (Veronikas & Shaughnessy, 2004).

The development of the growth mindset starts with the cultivation of self-belief. For this reason, every person striving for success should clearly understand his/her own potential and objectively assess their talents. Knowing who you are is an initial pillar for the development of one’s growth mindset. With this, it is possible to develop one’s talents, or rely on the general opinion of one’s immediate environment. In either case, a clear understanding of who a person is in a current stage of their life will help to believe in oneself. It is worthy to note that rather than taking ones’ talents as innate gifts (fixed mindset), a person should work hard (growth mindset) to develop them and understand the most beneficial in order to set the right priorities (Dweck, 2006).

As an old adage goes, no wind will help, if you do not know to which port you are sailing. After realizing ‘who you are,’ a growth-mindset-oriented person should understand ‘where to go’ by cultivating their own life path or strategy. In order to save precious time and resources, every person needs to develop their own goal-oriented strategy. The achievement of success is impossible without a clear vision supported by a precise action plan. The same concerns successful companies that primarily develop strategic vision and precise plans of action (short-term and long-term) that help them determine where they are and where they head for (Rhinesmith, 1992). Unfortunately, most people and companies are conventionally set in their ways, practices and approaches. Rather than thinking creatively and seeking better alternatives, they rely on the established practices which benefit them, though only to a certain (limited) extent. A lack of a clear direction (strategic vision) makes them destined to a standstill (a fixed mindset). Without a goal-oriented strategy, they merely shift among various opportunities to keep afloat. Eventually, most of them stagnate, fail to keep up with rivalry, and go bankrupt (Argyris, 2004).

The third constituent of the growth mindset development consists in continuous advancement. Like it or not, only the progress saves us from stagnation. We develop only when we move forward to face new challenges and opportunities. This is why most today’s successful and competitive companies operate as learning organizations. The concept of a learning organization coincides with Dweck’s notion of the growing mindset (Dweck, 2006). Only the aspiration for knowing and achieving more can makes us better. Embracing a growth mindset on a corporate level means that every staff member is sufficiently motivated to work harder and achieve more to gradually turn from a follower into a company’s leader one day. This way, progressive learning organizations are generating working environments (cultivating future leaders rather than lifetime followers) where employees are genuinely motivated, committed and loyal to corporate goals. Such an aptitude enables companies to maintain the right balance by investing into the development of new corporate leaders, and saving on low staff turnover (Rhinesmith, 1992).

The very notion of the growth mindset by no means should be misinterpreted. Many people erroneously limit their understanding of the growth mindset to being open-minded and having a positive outlook. While these qualities are rather important, the growth mindset is rather a state of continuous transition from the fixed to the growth mindset. Unfortunately to many, this condition is never constant, while once we stagnate, we turn into the fixed mindset. We tend to realize the mixture of the fixed and the growth mindset only through own experience. Eventually, we come to the conclusion that there is no “pure” growth mindset. The growth mindset is only about the benefits we get as the rewards for our hard work, creativity and ability to face challenges. This is why progressive teachers tend to reward their students for the gained outcomes and learning progress rather than just their efforts. At that, it is vitally important that tutors emphasize the processes and resources yielding positive outcomes, such as strong self-motivation, working under pressure, patience and endurance, openness to changes, trying new approaches, and working on setbacks. For the students, on the other hand, it is crucial to get involved within genuinely motivating and learning environments. Thus, attaining the growth mindset assumes one’s participation in the quality learning or organizational environment capable of turning followers into future leaders (Rhinesmith, 1992).

The revolutionary change assumed by the growth mindset consists in seeking the opportunities of growth rather than imitating them. One’s dedicated engagement is a bottom line of learning and developmental progress. Rather than imitating, the growth-mindset-oriented environments are encouraging reasonable risk-taking and rewarding students and employees for learning important lessons from every initiative or project they work on. This way both students and employees in their appropriate settings learn how to collaborate rather than compete, contribute to team success rather than care about their personal or career-growth ambitions, and overcome organizational boundaries by seeking advanced opportunities. This is how today’s followers gradually progress towards tomorrow’s leaders capable of taking initiative, managing people, and being responsible for their actions. The growth mindset is, therefore, about one’s commitment to facing new challenges and as a reward benefiting from new opportunities. All this is hardly possible in the conventional fixed mindset mode that is virtually closed for any changes due to its narrow-mindedness (Vovelle, 1990).