What is Growth Mindset? Definition and Examples

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The disposition of a growth mindset.

Table of Contents


A growth mindset is the tendency to believe that you can grow and make headway in any given endeavor. It is the mentality that sees an opportunity for development even in seemingly difficult situations.


A  Growth Mindset is one that makes people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work while suggesting that brains and talent are just the starting point. This view in the short and long term creates a love for learning and resilience that is essential for great accomplishments.

The hallmark of the Growth Mindset is essentially your passion to intentionally stretch yourself and stick to a course. This could be a math test, a puzzle, an assignment, a project, or any other thing even (or especially) when it is not going well. This has little or nothing to do with the availability of resources, but everything to do with your philosophy of life or worldview.

Fixed Mindset VS Growth Mindset

Fixed Mindset as the name implies, is a mental disposition that is static, hence limits and confines all forms of inherent intelligence and creative ability. It assumes that we have an ideal capacity that cannot change in any meaningful way. As a result of this, it tends to avoid, run away from, or find easy alternatives about anything mind-tasking. A Fixed Mindset further sees failure as evidence of unintelligence. This affects self-esteem and eventually the quality of life.

A Growth Mindset on the other hand is one that seeks to find ways to improve and progress in spite of the difficulties. A Growth Mindset thrives on challenges and puts on a disposition that welcomes failure not as evidence of unintelligence (unlike the fixed mindset), but as a springboard for betterment by stretching our existing abilities.

The Growth Mindset in all shades is one that is most needed for high-quality performance and self-actualization. It saves from the depressing and unfulfilling effects daily posed by the Fixed Mindset. This is evident in the daily increase of student/young people’s suicidal records, and frustrations in all work circles.

According to Carol Dweck – Stamford University Professor of Psychology “Believing that your qualities are carved in stone (which a fixed mindset proposes); only creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over”. It leaves you with the feeling that If only you have a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character,  then you would better express better abilities. It deprives you of the beautiful experience of exploring and engaging these most basic characteristics.

A Growth Mindset, however, views things as easy, needing only understanding. People with a growth mindset believe that their inherent abilities can be equated to the present challenges under the atmosphere of persistence and grit.  A  Growth Mindset sees a bigger picture through the lens of the mutability of things.

It believes and proposes that through conscious and sustained efforts, the abilities can be stretched and developed irrespective of initial talents and aptitudes, interests, and knowledge.

Having understood the meaning of a growth mindset and the differences between the Growth and the Fixed Mindsets, it is pertinent to develop a growth mindset and operate in one. This is important because it can actually change what you strive for and what you see as success.

How to Develop a Growth Mindset

The following strategies when employed can help in no small way in birthing a growth mindset.

Go for the Tough Tasks

It is very common to find people settling for easy and non-stressful tasks. Human nature was designed for a stress-free adventure as a matter of fact. People tend to limit their abilities to what they feel can be easily done without much thinking and much stress. This attitude, not only eludes people from the possibility of engaging mental capacity; it also eventually leads to the lack of actualization of human potentials.

To engage your mind and benefit from the many dividends of a strong and developed mental reservoir; you need to aim high and intentionally go for the tough tasks. You do this with the understanding that a task no matter how tough it may seem can be tackled if the necessary dedication and importunity are employed. When you have this disposition towards anything, you will devote all your mental strength to its accomplishment. If you do not get it right at the first attempt (which is bound to happen oftentimes); you should not concede defeat but rather strategize another means of approach.

Each failure in the course of accomplishing a task has the better side of making us more thoughtful and more critical in our approach. We should therefore not scare away from attempting tough tasks, but rather approach them with an optimistic mindset, and be willing to accept the outcome either way. When we do this, we unconsciously task our minds to provide answers or solutions. By so doing, we create new neuron pathways in our brains that make for better brain cell symphony, thoughtfulness, and a boost of mental power.  So:

  • Attempt the toughest exercises in your maths textbook;
  • Go the extra mile in study;
  • Attempt the hardest brain teasers
  • Attempt the most difficult of the project
  • Volunteer for the hardest of the task and
  • Attempt the hardest of everything, including the ones that leave you clueless.

By so doing, you task your mind and position yourself to develop a growth mindset.

Have a Purpose and Goal

It is one thing to bubble with energy to attempt everything and it is another thing to have a defined purpose for venturing into any such thing and have a set goal as well. Purposeful actions and goal setting are what make hours of hard work or dedication to a course worth it all. Your mental energies can only be stretched in an atmosphere of a defined purpose or line of action and a projected outcome which goal-setting makes possible.

It is critical to have a purposeful mindset and a result-oriented disposition in order to have the desired mental capacity boost and have success. To have a purposeful mindset (which eventually will translate to your goal) will mean:

  • Having a defined reason for engaging in what you are doing.

That is to say, clarifying your  ‘why’, hence patterning what your outcome should look like. If you are doing a maths exercise, for example, your purpose is not to while away the time in the course of the work. Your purpose for doing it is to find the answers to the question exercises. This eventually becomes your goal. When clarity of purpose is not established, a subconscious wave of mediocrity and redundancy will be created. This could make you not seriously devote yourself to finding the answers, or settle for what is not the answer, and eventually give up after a few unsuccessful attempts. This will not stretch the mind enough in order to build the desired mindset.

  • Being willing to devote time and energies to your course

The purposeful and result-oriented mindset will require the willingness to devote corresponding time and energies to your course or task at hand. This is critical because every worthwhile task gets to the point where the going gets tough. When this happens, only the willingness to pull through with the necessary time and energies will suffice. This is the implication or consequence of having clarity of purpose and set goals. It will make you stretch beyond what you would normally do and help you develop a positive mindset in the process.

  • Having a Positive Spirit

The purposeful mindset also entails having a positive spirit among other things. Here you charge up your mind to the possibilities that can be and reject negative thoughts, suggestions, and influences. You see the attainment of your goal so clearly that any contradiction does not make any sense to you. By so doing, you will see yourself thinking through the toughest of tasks and proffering solutions. This is the forerunner or preliminary stage of building a growth mindset.

Having a clearly defined purpose and envisioning an outcome (which is a set goal), will help you weather the storm of challenges, cope with failures, keep you focused and help build mental capacity through the process.

Stop Procrastinating

Procrastination simply means pushing for another time what you can do or can be done now. Procrastination is a thief of time, and it is the grave where opportunities are buried. The spirit of procrastination is one that makes you feel you have all the time and you can do anything later- at a more convenient time. It gives the feeling of ‘why stress now’? This gives the comfort of ‘you can think about this later, do other things now’.

Procrastination, if not stopped, can affect your mind and overall performance in many different negative ways. To start with, the mind is like a programmable machine that functions as a computer. The only difference, in this case, is, we are the ones that are responsible for its programming. The more we excuse thinking and getting a task done as when due as a result of laziness; we register an impression in the mind and create a pathway such that when we eventually desire to think through certain things and act in certain ways, it becomes somewhat difficult. We will then need another process of re-programming to get the job done.

Procrastination turns the mind to a waterlogged area and gives the same outcome that a waterlogged area does. It stands in the way of critical thinking which eventually makes the reality of a strong mental capacity elusive. This in turn affects overall productivity. To build mental capacity and develop a growth mindset, you must avoid procrastination as a plague. This will therefore mean:

  • Doing the assignments now
  • Doing the task now
  • Solving the puzzle now
  • Doing all the needful NOW!

This way, you will avoid the temptation to shift the needful activities for later, and devote the mental energies needed for the completion of the task as at when due.

Engage in Productive Activities

Productive activities are those activities that are profitable either in the short or long term base and are worth the time and dedication. Engaging in productive activities at all times has the power to enhance mental capacity.

Mental capacity is not enhanced only by solving a one-time difficult task. It is the consequence of the summation of productive activities.

Engaging in productive activities can affect our mind and general performance in many different positive ways (studies have shown). It helps to keep you focused, alert, and also gives a sense of responsibility among other things. These all help to build the desired mental capacity and develop the growth mindset.

Constant engagement in productive activities will imply cutting the time for non-productive activities such as: seeing movies, playing games, chatting on social media, and a host of others. As legitimate as the aforementioned activities are, their relative importance is low and they do not enhance productivity in the real sense. There should therefore be proper time management that will set a demarcation between the real activities of value and those that you can basically do without. This is critical to the course of building mental capacity and a growth mindset.

Associate with only the Smart Guys

True to the saying that you become who you consistently hang around with, a Growth Mindset can be developed by having and keeping around positive, motivated, and goal-oriented people. This is so because a constant interaction is bound to have such attributes rub off on you and influence you positively.

People who see an opportunity for growth in every challenge and embrace the better side of failure, are a great team to have around in other to develop the same too.

You should therefore change the circle of your acquaintances from that of mediocre and people with a Fixed Mindset to that of high flyers with a Growth Mindset. This way, you get to develop one yourself.

The company you keep is not limited to the people around you, but also includes the people you follow and hold dear as mentors and other authority in your life. Align with the right people, ask them relevant questions, read their books, observe their paths and disposition about life, living, and success. Also, try to behave in certain ways as they do. This will be a sure way to developing a growth mindset.

Reward Yourself

Growth generally is a process. It can be likened to the process of climbing a staircase. Each step takes you higher and brings you closer to your goal. Every step of the way therefore is significant and should be acknowledged and appreciated.

Developing a Growth Mindset therefore, as with the typical growth process, entails different stages of progress. For each of those processes, a good reward system can serve as a great boost for the attainment of other heights.

Rewarding yourself after successfully pressing through and solving a task, can be in the form of buying yourself a present, taking your favorite meal, seeing an interesting movie, or engaging in any activity of interest. This will bring about the great opportunity of having to unwind, and propel you for even greater things.

Remember also that the reward for hard work is more work. You can as well engage in more work as a reward for the success of the previous work.

Take the Time to Rest

All work without play makes jack a dull boy as it is commonly said. The mind and of course the body is not a machine. It needs refreshing which a good rest can provide. A growth mindset as established is a thing of the mind which is developed on a worldview or life philosophy.

A good rest on a daily basis has the capacity to tamper with our mindset and can help give us the coordination for a more thoughtful and purposeful life which is necessary for the development and sustenance of a Growth Mindset.

Growth Mindset Quotes

Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance.

Samuel Johnson

The very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make the most of yourself.

Wallace Wattles

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

Albert Einstein

Don’t worry about failure. Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.

Sherman Finesilver

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

E.E. Cummings

Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of being.

John Wooden

Ask ˜How will they learn best? Not ˜Can they learn?

Jaime Escalante

You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better. By becoming a little better each and every day, over a period of time, you will become a lot better.

John Wooden

You’re in charge of your mind. You can help it grow by using it in the right way.

Carol Dweck

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.