Using a Growth Mindset To Develop Your Skills

Updated June 30, 2022

Having a growth mindset allows you to look beyond your current career status and industry and know that you have the power to change it. Through learning and developing skills, you change what you may have once thought was a fated potential. With this perspective, you open up a world of opportunities for yourself, improving your overall quality of life and workplace productivity. In this article, we explain what a growth mindset is, how it differs from a fixed mindset and how to apply your growth mindset at work.

What is a growth mindset?

To possess a growth mindset is to hold a belief that intelligence and potential are not set at birth. It is the idea that skills and personal traits are within your control and can be improved upon with focus and effort. The growth mindset is founded upon the theory of neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to grow and change at any age.

What is a fixed mindset?

A fixed mindset is the antithesis of a growth mindset and refers to the theory that we cannot change our given skills and talents. This said, growth mindsets and fixed mindsets can exist within the same individual. For example, a person may exhibit a growth mindset when it comes to improving at work or school but possess a fixed mindset in their personal relationships. The opposite is also true.

Those who possess a fixed mindset may be fearful of looking bad and taking risks. This prevents them from overcoming challenges, trying new things and achieving attainable goals in the workplace.

Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

Benefits of having a growth mindset in the workplace

Within any career field, the belief that you can improve will motivate you to persevere despite obstacles. Here are other career benefits of a growth mindset:

You’ll have a positive outlook on life

By believing that you can improve upon yourself and affect change, you’ll have a more positive outlook on life. You’ll be able to inspire your team to grow and develop to achieve higher goals, by extension.

You’re adaptable to change

With a growth mindset, you’ll be more receptive and adaptable to changes in the workplace that may come about. Being more adaptable will help expand technological capabilities, enhance workplace camaraderie and inspire fresh ideas that drive revenue and profit for the business.

You’re inspired by your team’s efforts

You’ll take note of workplace successes and piggyback off their wins to create some of your own. After, you can reflect on what you learned and how to boost your knowledge in a given area of your work. In other words, a growth mindset helps you self-regulate and manage your thoughts and actions to drive them towards successful results.

You’re satisfied with the present

A growth mindset values the contributions that you make to your team and your work. Despite the results, everything is a learning opportunity that positions you in a better place tomorrow in comparison to today.

How to develop a growth mindset at work

You can develop a growth mindset through strategies pertaining to goal identification, planning, and consistent action. Here is how to develop these strategies to ensure a continual growth mindset at work, regardless of your age or where you are in your career:

  1. Focus on learning.

  2. Vary your approach to challenges.

  3. Evaluate the merits of criticism/feedback.

  4. Seek to understand why something failed.

  5. Use autosuggestion to develop a stronger mindset.

1. Focus on setting and achieving learning and performance goals

How you set a goal determines how you approach it. When you set a goal based on a metric like speed or customer ratings, you limit the scope of what needs real improvement. Focusing on learning a skill, improving a process or understanding what an issue needs, leads to faster outputs and more satisfied customers. Moreover, it makes you more patient as you work through your plan of action and will increase success long-term.

2. Vary your approach to challenges

When an issue arises, it’s natural to want to approach it the way you’ve always done. However, when performed without discernment, it’s possible to miss key steps necessary to accomplishing your goal. Through gathering unbiased data, clarifying the problem and executing a plan of action, you learn how to treat each new challenge with an informed perspective. Try setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based) goals to help determine growth boundaries that you can plan and adjust accordingly.

By varying your approach, you remain open to the idea that all issues are unique.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

3. Evaluate the merits of criticism/feedback

Feedback from a trusted source in the workplace, whether if it’s from a manager or colleague, can be an invaluable key to your success. When developing a growth mindset, see feedback as a tool for self-improvement and evaluation. If you are unsure who to ask, consider finding a mentor to provide specific insights and tactics that are applicable to your growth.

4. Seek to understand why something failed

Failing is inevitable but also invaluable. Failures allow you to evaluate what went wrong, if you need to adjust key performance indicators and what you can improve upon. You may find that the idea was sound but the execution was not. Or, perhaps, you might find that you were measuring the wrong growth factors for achievement.

5. Use autosuggestion to help cultivate a stronger mindset

Autosuggestion is the practice of repeating a phrase to yourself to encourage positive self-talk. Self-talk comes from subconscious feelings you have about yourself. While learning a difficult skill, use positive affirmations like “I can”, “I am learning” or “I haven’t learned it yet." This imprints the belief in your mind that you’ll learn what you sought to learn to reach your overarching career goals. Overall, a positive mindset is more open to making discoveries and better equipped for resilience in times of crisis.

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