How to Develop a Growth Mindset
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The Y Report

Mindset Reset

How can I reach my potential? We are all here on Earth to become the best version of ourselves. Part of reaching our ultimate potential, says visiting psychology professor Daniel Southwick, “is having a belief system that allows you to have room to grow.” He says it’s all about mindset:

What is the difference between growth and fixed mindsets?

A: A fixed mindset is the belief that your abilities are set at birth. People with a fixed mindset tend to view their failures as an indication that they’re not good enough, that there is something deficient about them. A growth mindset is the belief that the ability someone has isn’t limited. It isn’t this belief that you’re awesome. It’s really just the belief that wherever you are currently is temporary and that you can change. When people with a growth mindset fail, they don’t view that as indicative of who they are. Failure merely provides them with information about how to improve.

Why does mindset matter?

A: When adversity arises, having a growth mindset will help you have a more accurate view of yourself and your potential. You are not a failure, and you can get through this. Having a growth mindset activates your tendency to seek out challenges and perform better. When you have a fixed mindset, do you want to be challenged? No. You run from challenges because they tell you that you are not good enough. You’ll want to take that lower class you know you’ll ace rather than try and better yourself by taking challenging classes that will benefit you in the future.

How can mindset change?

A: It’s important to take a step back and think about what type of language you’re using internally—is it language that supports the idea that you can change or language that limits you? A fixed mindset insists upon the idea “I am what I am—and I will always be that way.” But that’s not consistent with what research shows, nor with a gospel perspective. Human beings are nothing if not adaptable. Step back and ask yourself, “How can I get a little better this time? How can I push myself to grow? Maybe this is where I am now, but I can improve. I am capable of getting better.”

A man in a blue shirt is climbing a ladder and looking forward.
When facing a challenge, our mindset makes all the difference, says Daniel Southwick. Photo by Bradley Slade.