The Power of a Growth Mindset

A new year brings with it a spirit of change. Many of us promise ourselves more time at the gym, a renewed effort for healthful eating, or a commitment to spending more time with our families. In the spirit of New Year's Resolutions, we at Nexus are aiming to promote a shift in mindset, one that will help all of us become better learners and happier investors in our minds. 

Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford and the world’s leading researcher into motivation, describes two basic mindsets, one that restricts progress and one that leaves us open to growth and learning. From her website, Mindset Online:

“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.”

More recently, Dr. Dweck has further developed her research to address the application of these ideas for K-12 students. According to Dweck, praising effort is not enough. "It's like the consolation prize. 'Oh, at least you worked hard,'" said Dweck. "What if they didn't make progress or they didn't learn?" The focus of the successful growth mindset is the way that effort can result in learning, not the effort itself. If there is effort with no learning, a student can quickly get frustrated and regress. 

The chart below was passed around recently on social media. It demonstrates very clearly the power in our choice of words. 

Help yourself and your children become better learners by pivoting fixed perspectives toward growth opportunities. Resolve to be great learners this year!