When you run into a setback or fail at something, what do you believe the reasons for it are? When you succeed at something, what do you believe the reasons for it are? How do you praise your child or your student when they do something well?
Take this self-assessment survey to see what kind of mindset you have, before continuing on.
Many of us often interpret setbacks and failures as being something wrong with ourselves. We see talent, ability, and intelligence as something inherent and “fixed.” When we succeed at something, we may also see it as merely the product of intelligence or talent. This is a fixed mindset. The problem with a fixed mindset is that it leads you to avoid risking future failures, to avoid challenges, and to avoid looking “not smart.” A college student might more easily drop a difficult major after they do poorly on a test, for example, believing that they just don’t have the innate ability to succeed.
Conversely, people with a growth mindset, which can be taught very quickly, see setbacks as challenges and opportunities. Students with a growth mindset see failure as an opportunity to learn and improve. They believe that success comes from working harder and learning and is not something that is fixed and innate. Neuroscientific evidence backs up the validity of this mindset. It is through struggle and difficulty and failures that our neural connections grow and learning happens.
The following TED talk video provides an explanation and examples of the positive impact a growth mindset can have on all people, including college students, athletes, children, and working professionals:
The video below illustrates how even famous athletes, actors, and scientists had many failures along the way:
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