Where her research gets particularly interesting is in how these two mindsets handle feedback.
She invited people back to her lab to study how the brain reacted to receiving feedback after answering difficult questions.
What she found was that people with a fixed mindset would tune out information that could help them improve.
Even worse, they wouldn’t listen to the right answer if they got a question wrong, because they had already filed it away under the “failure” category.
They had already given up.
On the other hand, those with a growth mindset were attentive to information that could help them expand their existing knowledge and were actively seeking feedback, even if they got an answer wrong – they saw it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Again, the focus for those with a growth mindset is on growth, whereas those with a fixed mindset, the focus was on failure.
This is interesting to understand if you’re thinking about how an employee might react to feedback, but what about leaders?
What happens if you’re a leader that’s responsible for developing and growing a team and you have a fixed mindset?
I could easily see this being a huge problem in many companies, where employees aren’t getting the guidance they deserve.
I’m reminded of the famous psychology experiment by Robert Rosenthal in 1964 involving teachers at an elementary school.
The experiment was to see what would happen if teachers were told that certain students were destined to succeed.
Rosenthal took a regular IQ test and put a fake cover page on it that said “Harvard Test of Inflected Acquisition”. The teachers were told that this test had the ability to predict which kids were going to experience a growth in their IQ.
He then chose students at random and told the teachers that these kids were experiencing a growth in IQ.
“If teachers had been led to expect greater gains in IQ, then increasingly, those kids gained more IQ,” he said.
His research found that expectations affect teachers’ daily interactions with the children. Teachers give the students that they expect to succeed more time to answer questions and more specific feedback.
This is an important lesson for all managers.
Employees won’t be able to grow if you don’t give them the attention they deserve.
So then the obvious question becomes, how do you develop a growth mindset?
I’ll share a few tips, but more than anything, it starts by building up your own confidence.
A few months ago, I wrote a post called Why Confidence Is The Secret To Success In Life where I explained how lack of confidence holds us back from so much in life.
If you can learn how to build up that confidence you’ll set yourself up for developing a growth mindset.
The key is to get yourself out of that mindset of insecurity. It’s much easier said than done, but if you can learn that failure is okay, you’ll be set.
From all the research I’ve done for this post, the root of that fixed mindset is not thinking highly enough of yourself.
It’s important to be able to build up that self confidence by doing things to make yourself better, like exercise, thinking positively, meditation, etc.
Like I mentioned, I really believe that all of this starts by building up your confidence, but here are some other ways that you can develop a growth mindset.
Talk Back To Yourself
People with a fixed mindset will often go through a discussion with themselves in their heads.
“Can I really do this? What happens if you screw up? Will everyone laugh?”
Learn how to shut that voice up. Talk back and tell yourself that of course you can do it, and no one is going to laugh at you, that’s silly.
Look At The Glass As Half Full
Remember that in life, you always have two choices. When you fail at something you can see it as a failure or you can see it as an opportunity, it’s up to you.
Try to find something positive in every setback.
Celebrate Small Wins
Understand that everything is a learning process, celebrate small wins with yourself and remind yourself how much you’re learning.
You’ll slowly train yourself to develop a mindset of always growing and learning.
Set Realistic Expectations
It’s important to set realistic expectations for yourself.
Maybe the goals you’re setting aren’t the right ones or are way too ambitious, setting yourself up for failure.
As you lock in some quick wins, you’ll continue to build up that confidence.
Exercise Your Mind
Doing exercise, yoga, or meditation is a great way to keep yourself calm and mentally strong.
Being mentally strong will help you build up that confidence and see things clearer, helping you develop that growth mindset.