How to Develop a Growth Mindset: The Key to Unleashing Greatness
A growth mindset is the belief that you can develop your intelligence and abilities through hard work and perseverance. Unlike people with fixed mindsets (who assume their intelligence and abilities are innate and unchangeable traits), people with growth mindsets embrace challenges, learn from failures, and never stop seeking out opportunities for personal and professional development.
Your mindset is your own decision. Choosing to adopt a growth mindset will help you develop resilience and empower you to achieve your full potential. In this article, we’re going to explore the concept of a growth mindset in more detail. We’ll explore the benefits of having a growth mindset, share some real-life success stories, and provide practical steps to help you cultivate a growth mindset in your own personal and professional life.
Understanding Growth Mindsets
Growth mindsets are often contrasted with fixed mindsets. This contrast was introduced by Dr. Carol Dweck, a renowned psychologist and professor of psychology at Stanford University, and popularized via her groundbreaking 2006 book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In her book, Dr. Dweck elaborates on the differences between growth and fixed mindsets and the impact of mindset on human behavior.
What’s a Growth Mindset?
A growth mindset centers on the idea that one’s skills can be developed and improved over time through persistent effort — intrinsic talents and intelligence are just starting points. It’s based on scientific evidence of brain plasticity, or the brain’s ability to literally change over time.
Some of the hallmarks of people with growth mindsets include:
- They look forward to tackling fresh challenges
- They see failures as opportunities for growth
- They have a passion for learning new things
What’s a Fixed Mindset?
A fixed mindset, on the other hand, rests on the belief that one’s abilities cannot be developed — rather, our traits are predetermined and static. People with a fixed mindsets tend to:
- Avoid challenges to protect their self-esteem
- View failures as reflections of their inherent limitations
- Lack the motivation to put forth effort to improve
Top 5 Benefits of a Growth Mindset
1. Improved Learning and Skill Development
When you have a growth mindset, you’re excited by chances to learn something new and develop your skills. People with growth mindsets embrace challenges rather than run from them and view failures as opportunities, not setbacks.
2. Greater Resilience
A growth mindset equips you to bounce back from failure. When you adopt a growth mindset, you’ll improve your ability to persevere through obstacles by learning to see them as temporary hurdles that lead to inevitable achievement and discovery.
3. Enhanced Creativity and Problem-Solving Ability
People with growth mindsets tend to be effective problem solvers. They approach challenges with a firm belief in their ability to find a creative solution to the problem at hand. This combination of self-confidence and innovative thinking is extremely valuable in many different settings, both personal and professional.
4. Greater Adaptability
A growth mindset makes you more adaptable to change. You’ll find it easier to embrace new ideas and technologies, which paves the way toward new opportunities — not just in business, but in nearly all areas of life.
5. Improved Relationships and Higher Self Esteem
Embracing a growth mindset can lead to better relationships as well. A growth mindset fosters a willingness to learn from conflict and work toward resolution in good faith. It can also help you reduce defensive tendencies and improve your communication skills.
Not only do growth mindsets make it easier to maintain healthy relationships, but they’re also associated with higher self-esteem.
Growth Mindset Examples
You can find inspiring growth mindset success stories throughout practically every area of life.
Marketing: Erik Shani
Erik Shani has spent decades building tech startups throughout multiple industries, including telecom, adtech, cannabis, and more. He also actively invests in early stage startups and currently serves as Chief Product Officer at the data-driven marketing company Fyllo, which he co-founded. Shani’s passion for tackling challenges and helping businesses grow exemplifies the typical characteristics of a growth mindset.
Business: Howard Schultz
Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, transformed a small Seattle coffee chain into a global coffeehouse phenomenon. His determination and ability to adapt to changing consumer preferences played a significant role in Starbucks' success.
Growth Hacking: Robin Daniels
Over the course of more than 20 years, Robin Daniels helped companies like Salesforce, LinkedIn, WeWork, and Matterport reach new heights of success. It takes an intentional growth mindset to craft a growth hacking strategy that’s capable of sending a business’s popularity skyrocketing practically overnight.
Investing: Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett is one of the most successful investors of all time. He built Berkshire Hathaway into a multinational conglomerate by consistently applying a growth mindset to value investing. Buffett's ability to learn from his mistakes and adapt his investment strategies over time has made him both a billionaire and a well-respected figure in finance.
SaaS: David Henzel
David Henzel is a veteran entrepreneur and portfolio manager who has launched multiple successful SaaS platforms like UpCoach, TaskDrive, and MaxCDN. His knack for rapid business growth and dedication to success in multiple markets are perfect examples of a growth mindset in action.
Science: Thomas Edison
Edison is a household name for inventing the electric light bulb, but he endured thousands of failures in his attempts to develop it. He is one of the most famous examples of how a determination to learn from failure can eventually lead to enormous success.
Sports: Michael Jordan
Though today he is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan faced multiple failures early in his career — including being cut from his high school basketball team. He nevertheless embraced a growth mindset, worked tirelessly on his skills, and eventually led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships.
Steps to Develop Growth Mindset
Anyone can learn how to have a growth mindset by embracing a few key steps:
1. Practice Self-awareness
The first step to adopting a growth mindset is to become aware of your current mindset. Pay close attention to how you naturally approach obstacles and view failures, as well as how you respond to opportunities to learn new things. Developing this self-awareness will help you recognize what you need to work on and what you’re already doing right.
2. Embrace Challenges
One of the core tenets of a growth mindset is a willingness to embrace challenges. Practice getting more comfortable with existing outside your comfort zone, and remember that you’ll never grow if you don’t push yourself.
3. Be Persistent
The hardest part of embracing challenges is coping with failure. If you believe you’ll never fail, you’re setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment. Instead, realize that you’re going to fail and allow yourself to do so. Not only is it okay to fail — it’s actually an essential part of the learning process.
4. Remain Curious
People with growth mindsets love to learn. One of the most exciting parts about living with a growth mindset is that you’re constantly expanding your boundaries. Practice cultivating that curiosity throughout your everyday life and try to view every situation as a chance to broaden your horizons.
5. Accept Criticism
It may feel nice to hear someone praising your accomplishments, but praise doesn't do much to help you grow. Growth mindsets thrive on constructive criticism. Try to see tough feedback not as a personal attack but as a chance to improve. Some of the world’s most stunning success stories have come from people with growth mindsets who didn’t give up in the face of feedback that wasn't easy to hear.
6. Learn from Others
Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of feeling jealous of other people’s achievements. Part of having a growth mindset is supporting the triumphs of your peers and learning from their successes. When you have a growth mindset, you view other people’s victories as sources of motivation after which to model your own efforts.
7. Shift Your Perspective
Adopting a growth mindset requires you to alter your perspective — sometimes quite radically. It’s normal to avoid challenging or unfamiliar situations to protect your ego, but a growth mindset prioritizes growth over comfort. Additionally, it’s easy to blame circumstances or even others for our failures, but a growth mindset demands you take responsibility for your shortcomings rather than hide from them, so that you can improve.
Getting over your natural aversion to failure is one of the most difficult parts of practicing a growth mindset. Here are a few tips to help you get more comfortable with trying and falling short:
1. Frame Failure as a Chance to Get Better
Failure is a natural part of entrepreneurship (and a natural part of life). Instead of letting fear of failure affect your decision making, look at your next failure as the next essential stepping stone toward success. No one ever succeeded at anything without learning a few lessons along the way.
2. Set Realistic Expectations
While you should expect and even embrace your failures, you should also set achievable goals for yourself. Avoid perfectionism at all costs, and remember that success comes in small increments.
3. Don’t Fixate on Results
A large part of practicing a growth mindset is appreciating everything the process has to teach you. If you focus on how far you have to go, odds are you'll only get overwhelmed. Incorporate personal growth milestones into your definition of success instead of focusing solely on objectives tied to hard performance metrics.
Applying a Growth Mindset in Different Areas
A growth mentality will serve you very well in business — especially if you’re launching a startup — but it can also help you in almost every other area of life.
- A growth mindset can help you in your education and career by making it easier to pick up new skills and information and making you more adaptable to new situations.
- In your personal relationships, a growth mindset can help you improve your communication skills and empathy.
- A growth mindset can help you achieve your personal goals by increasing your resilience to setbacks.
Entrepreneurs who embrace the characteristics of a growth mindset —including self-confidence, resilience, persistence, and continuous learning — equip themselves for growth and success not just in business, but in all areas of life. Take the tips we’ve outlined in this article to heart and choose a growth mentality that will propel you forward no matter what challenges life throws at you.