Do You Believe You Can Change?
Embracing the Potential to Change, Learn, and Improve
Let’s face it – change is part of life. And many of us, adults and kids, struggle with change. We’re asked to learn or do something and we think to ourselves, I can’t do this.
Sometimes the call for change, learning, or improvement comes from within ourselves. Other times, a wakeup opportunity is provoked by other people, work, community, or country. There are unlimited reasons to grow in response to the realities life throws at us.
Renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck calls these openings the “power of yet” (2014). Her research identifies characteristics of what she’s termed the growth mindset, a belief we can change and grow through effort, experience, and willingness to learn from mistakes and successes (2006). In contrast, a person with a fixed mindset believes we’re born with a certain amount of ability and that’s just who we are. According to Dweck, mindset impacts every facet of our lives including relationships, work, family, and personal achievement.
With a growth mindset comes the belief that anyone can get better at anything because capabilities improve with effort and action.
Stretching Toward Goals
We have more potential, stamina, and strength than we may let ourselves know. Developing skills through effort and hard work builds momentum to stretch toward desired goals. Growth mindset expands motivation to respond to life’s opportunities. For example, maybe you want to learn to play golf, or sing, or create pottery. In a fixed mindset, you may believe, “I’m no good at this so why bother trying.” With a growth mindset, you believe, “I can learn and practice to gain this skill. With experience I can get better. Let’s get started!”
Waking Up Opportunities to Improve and Change
Actions, thoughts, and words matter. Pay attention to your self-talk. What do you say to yourself about your capacities to improve, change, and grow?
Self-Inquiry Ideas for Navigating Situations with a Growth Mindset:
- What can I learn from this? How can I grow or improve?
- How can I do this more effectively?
- How can I gain the skills I want or need to do this?
What messages do you send to people around you? Do your messages tell people they’re limited and you’re judging them, or do you let people know you believe in them and their potential?
Finally, consider the questions to inspire your growth mindset:
- How do I view mistakes and change – as problems or as opportunities for learning and growth?
- If I have a fixed mindset, how can I shift toward a growth mindset?
- How can I develop my potential and help others build their potential?
- How can I note the positives about a process, even if the outcome is not the desired one?
- How can I learn more effectively from my experiences?
Do you see yourself with a fixed mindset, a growth mindset, or somewhere in the middle? Where do you want to be? What effort and actions will you undertake to get there?
Resources and References to Learn More:
- Dweck, C. (September 22, 2015). ‘Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset.’
- Dweck, C.(2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House, NY.
- Dweck C. (2014, December 17). Carol Dweck: The power of believing that you can improve (video file).
- Dweck, C. (2016). What having a “growth mindset” actually means, Harvard Business Review, Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means
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