how to develop a growth mindset

Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, and Thomas Edison all overcame massive challenges to go on to do great things for society. (Oprah suffered from sexual abuse, Disney was fired from his first job for “lack of imagination,” and Edison was thought to be stupid as a kid)

And they’re not alone. It turns out, most high-level and impactful people experienced failure, hardship, and uncertainty along the way.

But what do these people have that the rest don’t? An unbeatable growth mindset.

A growth mindset is simply a way to look at life. Instead of feeling that intelligence and ability are innate and permanent like a “fixed mindset,” one sees them as ever-changing. In other words, extraordinary people weren’t born that way, they were created. Self-taught. Always learning, growing, and overcoming obstacles.

So, how do we create such a cool belief system within ourselves? Here are a few easy ways!

Embrace Your Mistakes and Imperfections

Failure, mistakes, and imperfections are really OPPORTUNITIES. So, work on seeing them as such. If you can turn a negative into a positive and learn from it, you’ll progress 10X faster than trying to hide from it.

What was your last mistake or failure? What can you take away from it?

Learn to Pivot

When things are hard and you feel like giving up, instead choose a different path. Try a different strategy or tactic to see if you can get the results you want. Sometimes, you just need a slight shift to find out that it was in your grasp all along.

Get the Right Kind of Input

Read biographies of those with a growth mindset, listen to podcasts telling stories of what people learned and overcame, and talk to those in real life that have done what you want to do. In order to shift your own way of thinking, you need to surround yourself with others who use failure and learning as their life principles. (Hint: all successful people do)

See here for some great books on growth mindset (for kids and adults)

Value the Process

With the growth mindset, it’s not about the end result. Instead, it’s about the journey and who you become along the way. Focus intensely on the effort used and the learning taking place, and let go of the immediate results. If you’re working and learning, the results will take care of themselves over time.

Get Feedback

Ask for comments, feedback, and insights. Welcome critical feedback that can help you improve and use it to your advantage. Often, we want to ignore this kind of criticism but it’s truly what helps us grow most.

Practice the Word Yet

This is a great one to also teach your kids. When you say you can’t do something, practice interjecting the word yet at the end of the sentence. For example:

  • I don’t have the money to pay for that car…..yet.
  • I haven’t been to Europe…yet.
  • I don’t have my master’s degree…yet.

It instantly turns a negative, closed-off statement into one of opportunity. Because the truth is, all of those things are open possibilities to you with the right mindset, work effort, and creativity.

In Conclusion

Building a growth mindset takes time, just like anything else worth doing. But if you can make effort, learning, and grit a part of your everyday life, you’ll go so much farther than simply giving up when the going gets tough. Or even worse, beating yourself up for not getting something right the first time.

Mistakes are a part of life, and we all start as beginners, so why not embrace it instead of reject it?

“I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures. . .I divide the world into the learners and the non-learners.” 

– Benjamin Barber