When you come across a challenge, do you shy away convincing yourself you’ll fail before you’ve even begun, or do you welcome it with open arms safe in the knowledge that even if you do fail, you’ll have learnt a lot along the way?

Some say the mindset trend has become a bit of a cliché but opening up to the idea of adopting a growth mindset allows us to improve our talents and intelligence through strategic effort and dedication.

When considering mindset, there are two key types which most of us fall into, the Fixed Mindset, and the Growth Mindset.

The basic Fixed Mindset category to which many people fall into, holds that someone’s personal attributes are unchanging – IE abilities and personality, whereas a Growth Mindset allows a person to believe these attributes can be cultivated and improved.

What’s so bad about a Fixed Mindset?

Those with a Fixed Mindset lack in flexibility of thought, they are restricted by the belief that what they have been dealt is their lot, that new things aren’t worth trying, and the ability to change is impossible.

This creates a vicious cycle, where they never give themselves the chance to show themselves that they can successfully do new things.

A Fixed Mindset can stop a person from welcoming change to their environment, sticking to the current set up because it’s ‘what they’ve always done’, never allowing room for growth.

The Growth Mindset

Thanks to modern science, the ability for humans to change is no longer questionable, and we now know that the brain never stops changing through learning. The lifelong plasticity of our brains means that we can continue to improve and change through learning and effort.

When faced with a challenging situation, how we interpret setbacks and criticism is a choice. We can go into them thinking that a failed outcome means our fixed talents or abilities are lacking. Or, we can see them as a sign that we need some development, our strategies need some improvement, and we can overcome the challenge.

Recognising that personal and professional growth can come from looking at criticism and challenges from a positive perspective, can set us up to view most situations entirely differently.

Understanding that we have a choice on how we react to these perceived negative situations, allows us to take learnings from them, rather than induce the fear of trying anything new ever again.

When approaching a challenge, it is more worthwhile to embrace the opportunity to learn, rather than avoid failure at all costs. Embracing a growth mindset allows us to no longer fear falling short of perfection, as with failure comes learning, which in turn sets us up better for going forward.

Studies have shown that those who adopt a Growth Mindset are able to negotiate better with others because they’re able to push past obstacles and take understanding from both parties’ points of view. Taking learnings from both sides of an argument allows us to help each other to come to a plausible conclusion, which has to be a better alternative than ending disagreements with no resolution.

Bringing a Growth Mindset into the workplace has multitudes of benefits, where a manager with a positive attitude to growth realises that their job requires more than just hiring someone for talent.

The manager with a Growth Mindset is committed to their own development, and that of their direct reports’. A manager with a Growth Mindset is more likely to invest time in developmental coaching and notice improvements in their employees’ performances.

Steps to embracing a Growth Mindset

As we know that our brains will continue to learn, and brain connections are not fixed, we can in fact train a Growth Mindset away from a Fixed Mindset. Taking steps to opening yourself up to a Growth Mindset can be done:

  • Learn to recognise when you can hear yourself in a Fixed Mindset

When stepping up to a challenge, you may hear the familiar voice ‘Are you sure you’ll be able to do that? What if it doesn’t work? What’s the point in trying?’

  • Take a step back and recognise that you have a choice

Remind yourself that the way you broach these challenging situations is a choice, you can choose to shy away, and never risk failing. Or you can realise that even if you fail, you will have learned something, and then you can take these learnings ready for your next challenge.

  • Take action

Take on the challenge and embrace it, learn from any setbacks you encounter, take criticism onboard and act on it now that you’re in control in the situation instead of fear being in control of you.