Entrepreneurial Mindset of the Month: Growth Mindset

Courtesy of VentureLab

Growth mindset is a way of recognizing your potential to learn and accomplish anything you work hard to achieve. Entrepreneurs know they can do anything and improve at anything because their brains grow as they learn new things and practice new skills.

A Culture of Practice

An important concept of having a growth mindset is realizing that learning is a process and each moment is an opportunity to practice and improve. By definition, growth occurs over time and this is where it’s hard to have a growth mindset. We want perfection, an A+, or 100%! We fall into the trap of saying, “I’m not creative. I can’t draw. I’m not good at math.” when that is NOT true! You simply haven’t practiced enough.

Inherent in this culture of practice are moments of failure followed by a decision, to persevere or give up. As an instructor of youth, this is the learning moment we seek to create. This is where character development occurs. Youth (and adults too!) that learn to view failure as just another step in the learning process have achieved a growth mindset. There is no limit to what they can achieve!

Shift in Vocabulary

Cultivating a growth mindset requires a change in vocabulary to bring about a focus on the process of growth and improvement. Even responses to moments of success can be shifted.

Consider the image below of my son building a train track. What do you notice?

When he completed the task, I could say, “Great job, you did it! You got it right!” However, to nurture a growth mindset I would say, “Wow! You tried four different times to make the track fit. I noticed you didn’t give up. You kept working until you got it! Nice work!”

Another example: A youngster confronts a math problem (insert any task or skill specific to the person) that they successfully complete. Instead of solely praising their achievement, bring attention to the process. “Nice work! I see the practice you put in is really paying off! I wonder what will happen if you keep practicing?”

The Power of Yet

Part of a growth mindset is being optimistic. It’s the ability to confront a challenge and say, “I can’t do this, YET. But with practice, I will!” This isn’t always easy to do. It requires a level of self confidence in order to be vulnerable while learning something new. Entrepreneurs show their growth mindset as they ideate and test their ideas, constantly seeking opportunities to create value for themselves and others.

Carol Dweck is a leading researcher in the field of motivation and has published extensively on fixed vs. growth mindset. Check out her Edutopia article on the Recognizing and Overcoming False Growth Mindset to learn more!