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On the Importance of a “Growth Mindset”

Source | LinkedIn : By Ramachandran Raman

December, every year, extended leadership team of BASF in India get together to review the year gone by and discuss future plans. In 2016, we adopted a theme “Growth Mind-set” for our annual retreat. I subsequently wrote a blog in our company’s intranet and thought it might also interest some of you.

Growth Mindset is based on a human psychological trait studied extensively by Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University (Ted Talk). Her insights came from an observation that inherent talent often did not predict how successful children turned out. She concluded there are individuals who believe what they could achieve is limited by their innate talents and thus had “Fixed” mindset. Those with a growth mindset believe that success is the result of hard work, good strategies, and inputs from others.

She showed that if “effort” rather than innate talent is appreciated in children, they tended to grow up with “growth” mindset. The logic was simple and very intuitive; if you tell someone how smart he or she is or how intelligent they are, they may tend to always live up to this “label” and might avoid challenging tasks where there is a risk of failure. On the other hand, if you tell someone that they are not “competent” they may give up and end up with “fixed” mindset. A school in the US eliminated “fail” in their exam results and substituted it with “not there yet”. Apparently, this changed the attitude of children to learning completely.

The concept of mindset also applies to adults. As with children, those of us who are identified as “talented” or wish to be “smart” may choose safe targets, not explore new opportunities or leave our domain expertise, for the fear of “failing”. Individuals are a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets depending on our current and past experiences and how we want to be seen. I have a “fixed” mindset when it comes to singing – you will never catch me singing in a karaoke session, because of an experience in my childhood. My brother and I were enrolled in classical music class and after a month the teacher apparently told my mother that she should not be wasting money on me, as I had a very bad voice. Well, that teacher lost the world a wonderful singer!

The world is full of examples of people who succeeded because of their growth mindset. A very inspiring example is Aparna Sinha – a national volleyball player who lost her leg when a thief threw her out of the train, on her way to Lucknow. That did not deter her from going on to climb Everest and every highest peak in each continent (INK talks).

Read On….

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