Accepting criticism is an example of a growth mindset. Willingness to learn, to take on new responsibilities and accept your faults as areas for improvement exemplifies a growth mindset. While someone with a fixed mindset internalizes failure as a personal limitation, those with a growth mindset accept a setback as a challenge. A growth mindset acknowledges rather than accepts our weaknesses. It involves the self-awareness required to face our personal limitations, while also accepting the opportunity to improve.
Growing from a fixed to a growth mindset is not easy. It means embracing a continual journey of daily improvement. Those improvements, no matter how small at first, build greater confidence. The process builds momentum, so it becomes easier as you go along. Getting started with a growth mindset is the hard part, and our negative self-perceptions can get in the way. Improvement begins with how we talk to ourselves.
Developing a Growth Mindset Begins with Positive Self-Talk
Have you ever faced a challenge and asked yourself, Can I get through this difficulty? Another voice in your head might have responded, Yes. Here’s what we need to do. This internal discussion is called self-talk. It accounts for much of how we perceive ourselves, the world and our place in it.
A fixed mindset can lead to negative self-talk: I don’t have the talent to face this challenge, so I won’t try. Similarly, expecting immediate excellence from ourselves can lead to perfection paralysis. We miss opportunities in both cases. With a growth mindset, on the other hand, we acknowledge our weaknesses and strengths. Like a muscle, developing a growth mindset helps you build strength over time.
Examples of Growth Mindset Self-Talk
- I’m further along than I was yesterday.
- I have the skills I need to get this done.
- What strategies have I used in the past that worked?
- After some deep breaths, I can refocus.
- It’s go time—let’s dive in!
The Power of ‘Yet’ in Learning New Skills
“Yet” is a powerful word. It opens the future to ever-increasing possibilities for improvement. It acknowledges current weaknesses and leaves the door open to growth. I am not good at this math skill I need… yet.
Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., a Stanford University psychology professor, researcher and author, applied “the power of yet” to education. Rather than assuming a student is “bad at reading,” Dweck suggests teachers encourage and nurture that student toward success.
Remember: “Yet” doesn’t lose its power upon graduation. We keep learning. Our careers, hobbies and overall personal happiness demand taking on new skills and developing healthier habits. This approach dismisses the notion that our skills are fixed. Rather, it embraces that notion of continual improvement, which is central to a growth mindset.
Examples of Better Learning with One Simple Word
- I’m not good at giving team presentations… yet.
- I haven’t made friends in my new town… yet.
- I don’t know how to complete these reports… yet.
- I haven’t figured out how to optimize our new software platform… yet.
Examples of a Growth Mindset in Business
Positive self-talk combined with “the power of yet” can turn you into an unstoppable force. With time and commitment, you can overcome the negative mindset of “I can’t” and transform it into “I will.”
Entrepreneurs in particular benefit from a growth mindset. Often, they begin with a skeleton crew. Or perhaps they are solopreneurs meeting every challenge themselves. There is no one else to take calls, handle the bookkeeping, develop marketing and manage the website. Business growth can grind to a standstill because of a fixed “I can’t” mindset.
Staff members and contractors with an entrepreneurial approach also benefit from a growth mindset. Professional success, including working toward a promotion, requires a can-do attitude in the face of new challenges.
Growth Mindset Examples in Your Professional Life
- Accepting a promotion or job offer, even when you don’t currently have every required skill
- A real estate agent accepting a lack of sales and learning new methods from pros
- Not expecting perfection from yourself on your first—or tenth—conference call or sales presentation, knowing you can continually improve
Improving Your Health and Well-Being with a Growth Mindset
Expecting perfection from oneself epitomizes a fixed mindset. When we don’t immediately get the results we want, we deem ourselves incapable or “bad at it” and give up. A growth mindset knows it takes time and effort to grow. You can’t expect your positive self-talk or fresh outlook to take hold and immediately change your life. It requires building good habits.
As philosopher and historian Will Durant said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Nowhere is this clearer than in improving our health and well-being. Whether increasing mindfulness, combating depression or trying to build muscle mass, one must develop a routine. Over time, routines become almost unconscious habits.
Growth Mindset Examples for Better Health and Well-Being
- Developing positive morning routines and evening routines to increase wellness
- Accepting that having an extra pizza slice when you’re dieting does not make you a failure or mean that you are “off your diet” and you’ll do better next time
- Clearing your mind of negative thoughts through meditation, nature walks or working out on a regular schedule
Seeing the Opportunity for Success in Others
No person is an island. Our skills in teamwork and leadership—and even our mental health and well-being—involve others. It’s a complex, never-ending series of interactions that paints how we see ourselves and how others perceive us. Therefore, a growth mindset may begin in our minds, but it doesn’t end there.
As we must pay attention to how we talk to and perceive ourselves, we must grow in how we talk to and perceive others. By thinking others can’t grow in their skills or habits, we have a fixed mindset. At their most negative, our perceptions of others can lead to bigotry in our social and business interactions. To avoid this, we must believe in “the power of yet” in others, too. Just remember: Believing someone can learn to swim does not mean throwing them into the deep end on their first lesson. As with yourself, expect an improvement process rather than immediate perfection.
Growth Mindset Examples in Our Interactions with Others
- My subordinate has no sales experience… yet.
- My outfielder has the strength and speed to add value to the team but they lack instinct. With initiative and some coaching, they can become a major team asset.
- My child has trouble reading, but I can work with them daily to improve.
- Our new leader is struggling in their role, but the core strengths are there. Most of their missteps come down to a few key issues that can be developed.
Photo by PanuShot/Shutterstock