Growth is a hallmark of success. Reaching our full potential requires us to stretch outside our comfort zones, comprehend new concepts, leverage new skills, and overcome countless challenges. 


Easier said than done—but having a growth mindset can bolster your success. In fact, if you don’t have a growth mindset, your mind may be your biggest obstacle.


Here’s a look at how the growth mindset contributes to achievement and how you can start cultivating your own.

What Is a Growth Mindset?

A growth mindset is the perspective that skills, knowledge, and intelligence can be learned or improved through effort. Therefore, our capabilities are malleable rather than static.


Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist and researcher who was the first to coin the term, noted how a growth mindset reinforces a sense of possibility: “Although people may differ in every which way in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments, everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”


Since Dweck pioneered modern conversations about growth mindset more than 20 years ago, the concept has been embraced by therapists, leaders, coaches, and athletes around the world. Acclaimed CEO Satya Nadella has spent the past few years instilling a “learn-it-all” culture at Microsoft because he believes a growth mindset is critical to high performance.

Understanding a Growth Mindset vs. a Fixed Mindset

A fixed mindset is the perspective that traits are “inherently stable and unchangeable over time.” 


This line of thinking can be limiting: When we believe our efforts are futile and there’s little we can do to improve, we often aren’t motivated to learn new information, try our hand at new activities, or take on more challenging tasks. 


And so the fixed mindset creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts: We don’t put in effort, so we don’t see results. As Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

5 Ways You Can Develop a Growth Mindset 

What if you don’t have a growth mindset? Not to worry—the growth mindset hinges on the very idea that you can develop one. 


Here are 5 tactics that will help you cultivate a growth mindset:

1. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

We often cling to the fixed mindset because playing it safe lets us avoid discomfort: If we don’t push the limits of our capabilities, we don’t risk feelings of vulnerability or failure. 


Growth, on the other hand, is inherently uncomfortable. Learning something new requires us to push past our limits to grapple with the novel and unfamiliar. This discomfort is why many of us avoid challenges. But if we want to grow, we’ve got to challenge ourselves.


Reframing challenges can make it easier to embrace them. Focus on the positive outcomes of taking on a challenge, viewing it as an opportunity to try something new, expand your knowledge, or advance your skill set. Over time, each challenge will feel less like a hurdle and more like a step forward.


As you successfully overcome challenges, you’ll gain more confidence in your abilities and experience less fear of failure. Eventually, you’ll equate a sense of discomfort with learning rather than fumbling or failing—an important distinction.

2. Celebrate Your Progress

The growth mindset isn’t just about change and challenge—it also provides us with plenty of reasons to celebrate our hard-won accomplishments. Each new fact learned, skill mastered, or feat overcome is a reason to extol our progress. 


Take time to reward your efforts by celebrating milestones, big and small. 


Acknowledging how far you’ve come is a wonderful way to positively reinforce your growth mindset. This also prevents you from fixating on the outcome, which commonly causes frustration or impatience when pursuing long-term goals because the endpoint feels so far away. Learning to enjoy the journey helps you appreciate the present and enjoy the process.

3. Engage in Positive Self-Talk

Believing in our ability to learn and improve is a cornerstone of the growth mindset. If you tend to have a pessimistic outlook or engage in negative self-talk, break the habit by shifting your perspective to more positive thought and speech patterns. 


One easy way to do this is adding the word “yet” to your statements, which serves as a reminder that your efforts can create a future reality that’s different from your current state. 


A few examples: 


Negative                 Positive  


“I’m not good at this.”            “I’m not good at this yet.” 

“I don’t know the answer.”        “I don’t know the answer yet.”

4. Dwell on Solutions, Not Problems

Complement your positive self-talk with a solution-oriented approach to problems, which can help you maintain a can-do mindset during challenging situations.


When faced with hardship, don’t spend too much time dwelling on the problem itself. Instead, consider all the skills and resources you have at your disposal and how you can leverage them to create a strong outcome. Make a list, if necessary. Keep the focus on possible solutions and how you might implement them. Chances are, this practice will help you pinpoint a path forward and put your solution in motion. 


Remembering how capable you are can help you approach challenges with a clear head and confident energy, which will typically yield better results. 

5. Be Patient With Yourself and the Process

A growth mindset must be balanced with this simple fact: We can make great strides, but we can never be perfect. We’ll have imperfections no matter how much we improve. 


So give yourself permission to fumble and fail. Remember that it’s OK to feel frustrated or disappointed—as long as you don’t let your failures stop you. Take a breath, take a break, then keep going. 


If you falter in your growth mindset here and there, don’t worry. Dweck notes that “nobody has a growth mindset in everything all the time.” 


Mindset Over Matter

If you’re reading this article, congratulations—you’re already showing commitment to your growth and success. 


Developing a growth mindset is a crucial step in achieving more for yourself, so do everything you can to practice the tactics we outlined above. And remember to keep the focus on possibility, positivity, and progress. You’ve got this.



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