The importance of our mindset
in our learning process


The American psychologist Carol Dweck (2006), affiliated with Stanford University, has spent decades investigating why some people are successful in life and continue to develop, while others who are just as talented don’t get ahead. She has found that people’s mindset in their learning process plays a crucial role in this. Carol Dweck has discovered two types of mindsets (ways of thinking): fixed mindset and growth mindset.

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A mindset is a thinking style that determines how you regard yourself, your qualities and your skills.

A growth mindset assumes that you’re able to develop your intelligence, qualities and abilities.

People with a growth mindset commit to practising what they do and keep on going when they encounter setbacks. Growth-mindset people are open to feedback. Feedback is seen as an opportunity for assessment and learning. When others achieve success, this is experienced as a learning and inspiration moment.
Someone with a fixed mindset assumes that intelligence, qualities and skills are innate and unchangeable, so that practising serves no purpose.

Someone with a fixed mindset may be wary of seeming stupid or making mistakes and will try to avoid such mistakes. Feedback is generally ignored and viewed as criticism and a threat.

Everyone possesses both a fixed mindset and a growth headset.

Carol Dweck’s work shows that these two mindsets have a very big influence on people’s ability to learn and develop.

People who use their growth mindset are able to grow more and achieve more in less time than people with a fixed mindset.


What does your fixed mindset say when you’re learning a new skill?

“I’m no good at this,” “I give up, this is too difficult,” “This is going to take too long,” “I’ve already made 2 mistakes,” “Plan ‘A’ hasn’t worked,” and the like.

What does your growth mindset say when you’re learning a new skill?

“What do I want to do to improve?”, “I’m going to try out one of the strategies we’ve learned,” “This takes time and effort, but I’m going to see it through,” “How can I learn from my mistakes?” “Plan ‘A’ isn’t working; good thing there are 26 letters in the alphabet”, and that sort of thing.


Tips for stimulating your growth mindset:

  • Focus on your learning process by drawing up a step plan and celebrating successes;

  • Focus on what all you’ve done so far and give yourself a pat on the back;

  • Focus on believing in your growth possibilities by keeping on wanting to develop new skills;

  • Focus on the exciting journey you embark on when you learn something new and push your endurance to the limit;

  • Focus on learning from the mistakes you make in order to try out new ways of doing;

And, above all: remind yourself what mindset you’re in when you embark on a new path: is it your fixed mindset or your growth mindset? Are you wanting to learn about yourself and develop? If so, use only your growth headset to motivate yourself and achieve results.


Source: Dr Carol Dweck, “Changing the Way You Think to Fulfil your Potential”