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10 tips on building a growth mindset

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10 tips on building a growth mindset

In the last issue, we defined a growth vs fixed mindset, clarified some of the differences, and pointed out that we are more likely to lean more towards a fixed mindset than we would like to admit.

In this issue, we look at how a growth mindset can be applied to a classroom, and if done right, to life in general.



There was a saying in the 1960s that went: “Becoming is better than being.” The fixed mindset does not allow people the luxury of becoming. They have to already be.”
~Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential


As Morgan McCall, in his book High Flyers, points out, “Unfortunately, people often like the things that work against their growth.… People like to use their strengths … to achieve quick, dramatic results, even if … they aren’t developing the new skills they will need later on. People like to believe they are as good as everyone says … and not take their weaknesses as seriously as they might. People don’t like to hear bad news or get criticism.… There is tremendous risk … in leaving what one does well to attempt to master something new.” And the fixed mindset makes it seem all that much riskier.”
~Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success


 Action Ideas (Ideas to get ya thinkin’. Not medical advice)

1. A growth mindset is the most anti-fragile mindset there is. Note, I didn’t use the word resilient. Resilience has a breaking point whereas something that is anti-fragile becomes stronger with struggle and pressure. 

A growth mindset is a learning mindset. In other words, instead of being focused on being the best or being right, it focuses on what can be learned. With learning comes strength. Our self-identity is that of a learner.

With this mindset, corrections are internalized as areas for improvement that would put my future-me in a better place. This is a difficult shift because we all have a tendency to want to be right and to protect our ego. However, we all know how fragile the ego can be. 

Explain to your students that while you are required to mark their progress, what you want to focus on is full effort, especially when things get difficult. During difficulty is when learning takes place and that’s the reason you are there to help.

2. Praise effort, not talent or intellect. Make struggle a part of life and not something to be avoided.

3. Teach students that learning takes time and effort. If it's easy, chances are nothing was learned.

4. Encourage students to tackle difficult tasks where there’s no guarantee of success but much can be learned along the way. Give examples from your own life, discuss what was learned and how the learning might be applied in the future.

5. Avoid limiting their room for improvement by saying phrases like, “You tried your best”. That implies they can do no better. Instead, maybe suggest a break, such as: do something physical, work on something totally unrelated, leaving it for a few days or #6.

6. Discuss new strategies when there is a struggle. A change in perspective opens new possibilities.

7. Introduce the idea of neuroplasticity (i.e. how the brain develops and changes over time). We are not limited to the brain and abilities we were born with.

8. Teach the importance of self-talk to encourage striving, and how to monitor and refute negative self-talk.

9. Have some classroom activities that have a longer timespan so perseverance is learned.

10. When a new skill is applied in a different circumstance, notice it, and reinforce the success. Especially at first, this mindshift is a tough one. Ongoing reminders will be necessary.

11. When exhausted from learning new things as well as the frustration when in struggle-mode, have a nap or get a good night’s sleep with our luxury (to quote a client) 10 lb weighted blanket. Lots of colours to choose from.

I hope your week has struggles that turn into skills and successes that turn into fuel for future challenges.

Providing calmness & comfort, learning & laughter,


P.S. Vibes are magical earplugs that reduce loud noises but will still allow for conversations. This summer we tested out one set and had a contest for the second set.

And the winner of our Vibe contest is . . . . Melissa Fisher!

To everyone else, I’ll send you an email once I have details about the Vibes. I'll also promote them once they come in. Since we usually have an intro deal, I would suggest to watch for the notification.

Thanks to everyone for their input!

Melissa, please email me or I’ll contact you by email to verify the address I have on file.


A silly P.S.

A game I play when doing draws: I try to guess whose name will be chosen, or at least some clues. I’ve done this several times and am sitting at 100%. Of being wrong. 😆 This time I thought it would be a male whose name starts with ‘R’.

I don’t think I’ll quit my day job to become a psychic. 😏 

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