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Cultivating resilience: The growth-mindset model

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

The Growth Mindset Model

Have you ever wondered why some students rebound from failure while others stay stuck in a state of despair?

Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck was curious about this phenomenon too. Thirty years ago Dweck researched students who held the idea that their talents and intelligence were static and did not change. She then compared these students to those students who believed in a growth mindset-that their intelligence and talents could easily grow through effort and learning.

Ultimately what Dweck found was that students with a “growth mindset,” outlook thrived when challenged, seeing failure as an opportunity for stretching their existing abilities.

Students who hold a growth mindset are passionate about learning and do not have a hunger for the approval of their peers and teachers. In addition, Dweck found that students develop one of these two mindsets from a young age and this determines their relationship with success and failure and their level of happiness.

Here are some simple tips for developing a growth mindset:

1. Replace the word “failure” with “learning.”

2. Research information on the plasticity of the brain.

3. The brain can grow, so too can the mind!

4. See challenges as opportunities for growth.

5. Focus on the process, not the end result.

6. Focus on your growth not the speed with which you complete a task.

7. Value effort over talent.

8. Use the word “yet.” I have not mastered this skill “yet.”

9. Redefine the way you view the term “Genius.” Genius involves hard work, not talent alone.

10. Acknowledge that others make mistakes as well. It is just not you.

In a follow-up study, Dweck used Columbia’s brain-wave lab to understand how individuals’ brains behaved when they responded to difficult questions and then received feedback. Dweck found that those with a "fixed mindset" only wanted to hear feedback that related to their present ability, while they tuned out information that was aimed at helping them learn and improve. These same individuals showed no interest in hearing the right answer when they had gotten a question wrong because they believed that they had already failed.

However, those with a growth mindset were attentive to information that could help them grow their existing knowledge and skill, regardless if they received the question right or wrong. These students were more concerned with learning than categorizing themselves as a success or failure.

For more information on the growth mindset, you can read Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.


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