What’s on Our Minds: Trying Hard vs. Growth Mindset

This week, we have been unpacking the psychological concept known as growth mindset—the belief that while genetics impact our talents, interests, abilities, character, and intelligence—they can all be developed through effort and perseverance.  Every RCI weekly theme has multiple layers, and this week is no different.  To expound a bit…while the impulse to support other people by rooting them on and encouraging them to “do their best” is well intentioned, does praising people for trying hard create a culture that values a growth mindset?

Why It Matters

Dr. Carol Dweck, the renowned psychologist and motivation expert who developed the growth mindset framework, has put a ton of thought into this. She noticed a trend in the education sector that some teachers who were implementing “growth mindset” were misinterpreting the original message…and in the process, creating a “false growth mindset” approach.  Feel good posters hanging in classrooms showcasing the value of hard work, and empty praise for trying without positive results i.e. “Too bad you failed the test—but you tried hard,” were missing the point. The most important part of the growth mindset message is connecting the effort to developing strategy and learning from setbacks. 


Something to Think About

Encouragement in the face of a failed attempt is not just, “let’s try harder. We’ll get ‘em next time.”

It’s, “let’s review what we did here, figure out where we can have a more specific plan, and prepare for our next chance.”  Growth mindset is about building upon failure— it’s a process that when taught and embraced correctly, focuses on becoming more motivated and engaged to learn   In other words, one of the keys to winning is learning from loss.  Our response to failure is a major determinant in our ability to succeed.  #GrowthMindset