4 Steps for Embracing the Discomfort of Developing a Growth Mindset

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Authored by

NLI Staff

One of the key findings from NLI’s research into growth mindset — the belief that skills can be improved, and aren’t set in stone — is that organizations adopt certain principles to match their existing culture and suit their future needs.

Still, even when leaders “make their own meanings,” as we say, they may face difficulty in accepting failures as learning opportunities and seeing challenges as chances for growth.

Since no one tells you that building a growth mindset can be so uncomfortable, here are four steps to help you stay on course.

1. Get familiar with the feeling of fear

Growth mindset is riddled with uncertainty, one of the key social threats found in the SCARF® Model, a way of organizing unique domains of threat and reward. When we feel highly uncertain, our attention narrows and our cognitive function suffers.

When developing a growth mindset in a particular area, it’s important to identify moments of fearfulness to recognize which thoughts may be holding us back. Creating this self-awareness lets people determine whether they really are in tough situation or just new to something.

2. Know you will get frustrated, and that’s okay

Developing a growth mindset doesn’t mean that all learning will come easy, and that you will feel great all the time.

The key to building growth mindset is to recognize that setbacks are inevitable, and also temporary. Learning requires a willingness to figure out how to make progress and move forward despite initial frustrations.

Sometimes the best remedy to a challenge is rethinking your approach. Taking a break to let past insights marinate can help re-energize you to tackle the problem again.

3. Monitor your progress in order to make adjustments

Embracing your ability to grow, develop, and stretch will take practice, and a focus on measuring progress over time. It helps to look at what you’ve learned and where you have room to get even better.

As we’ve written before, getting to a state of regular, specific feedback one of the best ways to develop a growth mindset. That means being willing to confront weak spots, concocting ways to adjust, and testing those solutions as soon as possible.

4. Share what you’ve learned and what it took to get there

One of the most powerful ways to embrace the discomfort of developing a growth mindset is to share your journey and learning with others. As the G and E in the AGES model for learning suggest, generation and emotion are key to learning. We learn best when we can turn ideas into concrete writing or discussion, and create new energy around it.

Sharing your wins and failures may create greater intrinsic reward, which research has shown is extremely motivating. And who knows, you may gain a Growth Mindset Partner as you share your story.

This article is the eighth installment in NLI’s series, Growth Mindset: The Master Class, a 12-week campaign to help leaders see how the world’s largest organizations are putting growth mindset to use.

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