“Growth mindset” is a concept from the field of education coined by the American psychologist Doctor Carol Dweck. You can, however, use this method in your professional life, too!

As a little boy, I didn’t relish learning only from school books. I wanted to build things with my Legos. I created the most complicated structures and, sometimes, they collapsed. Of course I was frustrated, but I also felt that the experience was valuable: I had tried something new.

I was reminded by my first steps in building things when I recently read Dr. Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In this profound book, she describes different ways to approach learning.

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

According to Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from. Some believe their success is based on innate ability; in Dweck’s vision, they have a “fixed mindset.”  Others, who believe their success is based on hard work, learning, training, and perseverance are said to have a “growth mindset.” Yes, that’s me, building castles with Legos!

They Don’t Fear Failure

Individuals may not necessarily be aware of their own mindset, but their mindset can still be discerned based on their behavior. It is especially evident in their reaction to failure. Fixed mindset individuals are afraid of failure because it seems to be a negative statement on their abilities. Growth mindset individuals, on the other hand, don’t fear failure, because they realize that their performance can be improved and that learning comes from failure. These two mindsets play an important role in all aspects of a person’s life.

The Growth Mindset in Business

“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning,” Dweck advised in her book. “That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”

Dweck’s lessons do, indeed, also hold true in adulthood. Chapter five of her book is called “Business: Mindset and Leadership.” In this chapter, she applies the rules she formulated for education to the professional field. Inspired by this chapter as a student of human behavior myself, I describe below what the growth mindset can accomplish for you and your organization:

  • It allows you to see failures as something to celebrate. One of the chief tenets of growth hacking is constant experimentation. A failed project is just a test that tells you to try it in another way.
  • Don’t be frustrated by criticism from your supervisor, but use this feedback to become better at your job. Be grateful to this supervisor, because they are giving you a chance to further develop your skills.
  • Don’t be afraid of new challenges. Instead, tackle them with enthusiasm. Even if you fail, you will learn something from them.
  • Keep trying out new things. This will be a lot easier than you imagine.
  • Annoyed by a complaining customer? Don’t see it that way. See it as a chance to improve your proposition.

In short, I invite you to embrace the growth mindset! This way of looking at the world not only makes your job much more fun, but also contributes to the success of your organization.

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