Make 2017 the year of the growth mindset

As we learn more and more about the growth mindset it is becoming clear that this way of thinking can be the foundation of success in a myriad of life's endeavors. We've written about this before in this space here and here. If you've already read those two articles then you're aware of how the growth mindset can be used to learn anything and to get better at anything we are already doing.

Teachers, coaches, and parents are in unique positions to help children develop this mindset through thoughtful use of praise. Typically youngsters are praised for achievement: The best student or the best athlete receives the most notice. But this is not the best way to develop a growth mindset and may reinforce a fixed mindset. Praise should be directed at effort rather than achievement if a growth mindset is what we're after.

The common understanding of how praise works is that it will encourage us to reproduce the behavior that caused the praise. But when we praise achievement the outcome my not be within our control. We may have performed well accidently or simply better than others. This kind of behavior may not be consistently reproducible. By praising effort we reinforce the behavior that will eventually lead to success and which is completely within our control; the amount of effort we put into doing or learning something is completely up to us.

During 2017 why not work at developing or expanding a growth mindset? This is not the same thing as making New Year's resolutions but if it help to think of it that way then go for it. Some may argue that this is simply a matter of how you look at things or how you define success and, to a certain degree, this may be correct. But a more accurate way of thinking about what we really want to do is reinforce behavior that will help us achieve success. We're not focusing on success itself but rather the behavior that will lead to it. This is a much more long-lasting skill and one that will serve us well in almost any endeavor.

Happy New Year!