What is Mindset?

After three decades of extensive research, Dr. Carol Dweck (Stanford University) asserts that success is directly related to people’s beliefs about their intelligence and talent. Those who believe their gifts and intelligence are innate and carved in stone have a “fixed mindset”,whereas those who believe that their abilities and intelligence can be developed through effort and practice have a “growth mindset”. The effects of one’s mindset on life choices and resulting achievements are profound!

Children and adults who hold the implicit belief that intelligence and talents are fixed tend to be concerned about proving their abilities, rather than learning. This belief causes them to interpret mistakes as threats to their ego rather than as opportunities to improve. Mistakes defeat their self-confidence because they attribute errors to lack of ability.

Youth with a growth mindset, on the other hand, tend to demonstrate the kind of perseverance and resilience required to convert life’s setbacks into future successes. They believe intelligence and skills can be developed through education and hard work. Another significant difference between individuals with growth and fixed mindsets is in their ability to accurately self-assess.

Why is Growth Mindset Important?

Having a Growth Mindset means that one sees mistakes as opportunities to learn, not as dead ends. People with a Growth Mindset focus on practice, effort, and determination to improve – as opposed to people with a Fixed Mindset, who are hung up on seemingly innate skills and abilities, deterministic outcomes, and immediate gratification. But not only are people with a Growth Mindset more likely to grow, mature, and achieve over time, but they are following best practices as supported by neurological research, which shows that neuron networks rewire and form new connections with practice. In short, Growth Mindset isn’t just a philosophy, it’s brain science! Fixed vs. Growth: Mindset Diagram

How does Mindset research influence our programs?

Growth Mindset concepts should impact all facets of youth programs including staff interactions and modeling, youth application of concepts and program design (integration and progression).  A fundamental integration of Thrive{ology} into your programming is to introduce some Growth Mindset language to your staff so that they, and then the youth, become familiar with it and start using it in everyday conversations. Growth Mindset praise can be easily practiced, by concentrating and commenting on effort, work, practice, and learning from mistakes—rather than on innate skill, luck, or other things that are beyond our control.