How to Develop a Growth Mindset

May 25, 2020

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right” –  Henry Ford

Ford is right, we are the ones who determine whether or not we are successful through how committed we are to the idea that we can succeed. Those who believe they cannot do something will not prevail.

We can apply what Ford says to the job market as thousands of eager students prepare to dive headfirst into an increasingly uncertain and congested market.

All graduates will be desperate to convey as many of their talents and natural aptitudes to their potential employers and this is behind their success in the past and will be so in the future.

Whilst many graduate CVs will go into great detail about their organic abilities and how they have honed in on their God-given talents over their life, it is equally important to emphasise your ability to adapt and grow in order to learn any new skills.

By nurturing this ‘Growth Mindset’ you can bring success by constantly looking to improve your abilities and not relying on what aptitudes you already have to succeed.

By showing your capability to grow and thrive off challenges, employers will recognise this yearn for constant improvement and place you ahead of those who work with what is called a ‘Fixed Mindset’.

What exactly is a Growth Mindset?

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The idea of the Growth Mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University.

Dweck has spent many years exploring the psychology of success and how motivation, personality and development are integral to this success.

The theory suggests that there are two distinct types of human mindset which can be used to explain our approach to challenges and indeed failure:

1. A Fixed Mindset – This mindset adheres to the belief that our skills come from an innate ability to perform certain tasks.

This mindset, therefore, will view failure as an inevitability as you believe you simply do not possess the skills required to be successful.

Dweck described the goal of the Fixed Mindset individual is to “look smart all the time and never look dumb”.

2. A Growth Mindset – In contrast, a Growth Mindset is based on the individual believing that they can acquire the necessary skills required for a particular task through determination and hard work.

Possessing a growth mentality hinges on the belief that the brain is not fixed and it can continually learn to grow.  

A more detailed exploration of Dweck’s theory explains her belief in the benefits of possessing a Growth Mindset.

What do you need to have a Growth Mindset?

1. Effort – When a student with a Fixed Mindset is confronted with a difficult task, that student may consciously put in less effort because they believe they lack the inherent skills to be able to do it.

Whereas an individual with a growth mentality will acknowledge that in order to overcome the difficulty of the task, a greater level of effort needs to be applied for you to be able to master it.

If you are struggling to put in the effort at home then stick to this seven-step guide to help you study effectively at home.

2. Positivity – A lot of the Growth mindset can be down to your attitude. Not being overly self-critical and being optimistic in your approach can help to obtain this positivity.

Keeping positive whilst searching for your graduate career is a necessity as you are very likely to experience rejection in your pursuit of employment.

It is natural to feel these post-interview blues, and here is how can remain positive in the face of being rebuffed for a job.

3. Courage – The ability to actually face these challenges with confidence is key to being able to have a Growth Mindset.

The challenge of getting a graduate job at the minute is undoubtedly tough and one that requires this outrageousness.

Here are ten essential tips on how to get a graduate job in the current climate.   

Do you Have a Growth Mindset?

If you are wondering on which side of the fence you are currently sat with regards to your mindset.

You should consider what you perceive your skills and talents to be, and most importantly think how you would react to difficult challenges.

The London Academy of IT’s interactive quiz can help you to realise the type of mindset you currently have, and what elements of your attitude to work you need to improve the most

7 Ways to Develop your Growth Mindset

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1. Learn how to Learn – There is nothing that cannot be learned through dedicated long hours of learning.

The time needed to be spent on mastering a subject varies from the traditional view of 10,000 hours to a more modern view of just 20 hours.

Whilst the length of time may be in dispute, there is no disputing that in order to properly learn something you need to devote a significant amount of time to it. Moreover, developing a technique that suits your learning is key to developing your Growth Mindset.

The Seven Learning Styles show that there is no singular method for your learning and it is certainly never too late to learn how to learn.

2. Focus on your effort, not your ability – Don’t bathe in the glories of your own ability, instead reflect on your success by focusing on the effort you have put into achieving it.

The more you begin to count on your own ability to succeed, the less effort you will begin to apply to your work. Don’t just believe in your ability but believe that your ability can always be enhanced by effort.

3. Use Constructive Criticism to your Advantage – This is perhaps the most overused piece of advice when it comes to bettering yourself, but there is a reason for that.

Being able to respond to criticism and use it to make yourself better can aid in your development of a Growth Mindset. The more criticism you listen to and take on board, the greater chance you have to improve yourself.

Opening yourself up to other people’s ideas and advice will help your mindset to grow.

4. Learn from other people’s mistakes – Likewise, listening to where others have gone wrong and heeding their advice can help you to improve by knowing what you should avoid.

5. Value the experience over the result – Those with a Fixed Mindset will avoid trying to learn something if that means they can avoid failure. The Growth Mindset thrives off the idea of a challenge and views failure as simply a launching pad for you to grow your learning.

Learning by doing even if it leads to failure is much more beneficial to your skills than believing your ingrained abilities mean you will never be able to accomplish something outside of your normal talents.

You should always emphasise the growth enabled by the experience of your work over the speed you are doing it at.

Being a fast learner can be a good trait but it can mean you don’t have the in-depth knowledge of someone who has really learned something in great detail.

6. Don’t be Complacent – Even if you think you have really begun to excel at a certain subject/skill, you shouldn’t start to think you have mastered it too soon.

You should constantly create new goals to allow you to improve yourself in a measurable fashion. Those who are successful never allow themselves to become complacent, they are instead constantly developing themselves and their ability to adapt.

7. Cultivate Grit – This is perhaps the most important step towards creating that Growth Mindset.

This is because putting in the effort is the biggest factor behind what we achieve as it prevents us from quitting when things are difficult and thus relying on our Fixed Mindset of skills. Here are five specific ways to cultivate your grit further.  

How will a Growth Mindset help you to secure a graduate job?

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Being able to demonstrate to a potential employer that you possess a Growth Mindset and you are able to apply it to your work, will stand you in great stead when it comes to job interviews.

Spending an interview listing off your many varied natural skills may sound impressive, but to be able to signify that you are constantly looking to improve yourself and expand your abilities will be far more impressive.

Indicating to an employer that you have that restless will to succeed and better yourself is exactly what employers will want to see in a graduate.

Someone who rocks up to work every day whilst believing they can rest on their laurels and rely on their natural ability to carry them through any obstacles that may surface compares unfavourably with those who believe that hard work and effort override natural ability when it comes to success.

You may never have been the sharpest tool in the box, but by allowing yourself to continuously grow your mind in the pursuit of achieving, will demonstrate the kind of willingness to learn and improve that will be incredibly appealing to employers.

So when you come to writing your CV or being interviewed, you should consider just how much of a Growth Mindset you currently hold.

Summary: How to Develop a Growth Mindset

We hope you’ve enjoyed this post on how to develop a growth mindset!

By analysing your own psychological approach to how you work and adopting this mindset it will enable you to have a career where you are always striving towards greater levels of success.

The trait of being fervently keen to learn is far greater than any trait we believe comes naturally to us.

If you’re a graduate who is finding it difficult to find a graduate job, contact us for some one-to-one coaching.

Written by Paddy Drew

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