Over 30 years ago, psychologist Dr Carol Dweck coined the idea of a Growth Mindset. A growth mindset is a belief that, if you’re not as good at something as you would like, you can work to improve.
She tells a story of hearing about a high school in Chicago where students would get a ‘Not Yet’ grade instead of a failing grade. “And I thought that was fantastic,” she said, “because if you get a failing grade, you think, I’m nothing, I’m nowhere. But if you get the grade ‘Not Yet’, you understand that you’re on a learning curve. It gives you a path into the future.” She found that students that were taught to have a growth mindset were much more likely to improve their grades than students that had not been taught the growth mindset.
But the Growth Mindset is not only applicable to school children. Entrepreneurs constantly have to learn and teach themselves new skills and succeed. For example, did you know that Walt Disney’s first film studio closed down due to bankruptcy barely a year after he first started it? Similarly, Bill Gates applied his knowledge from a failed first computer business to build Microsoft. Another example is an entrepreneur learning how to navigate a new financial records system or a CRM software. Understanding that failure does not mean the end, but is instead a learning experience is key to finding success as an entrepreneur.
The growth mindset means the belief that we can continuously develop and build up our skillset, so how can you start to develop a growth mindset? One easy way is to give and ask for feedback: once you understand where you have the potential to do better, you can begin to create strategies for how to improve. Another easy way is the set yourself some SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) goals that stretch you and get you out of your comfort zone, then begin planning how you can achieve them. As a leader, you can also promote a growth mindset among your team by encouraging continuous learning and providing opportunities for your team to improve or learn new things.