Thanks to recent technology we can now see how this takes place! The area of the brain that once focused on eyesight slowly recedes as the areas of the brain that assist with hearing grow into the space that is not being used as frequently.
In a less drastic example, the more I study everyone’s favorite subject math, the stronger the neurons for understanding the subject become, the more connections regarding math coalesce, and thus I create a larger part of my brain that is dedicated to, you guessed it, math.
As I continue to study math, the connections in my brain can become so engrained that they eventually become insulated by myelin sheath allowing the electrical impulses of my brain to travel faster making my abilities in math stronger.
In one study, one group of students and teachers were taught about the power of one's mindset while another group of students and teachers continued their standard curriculum.
The students and teachers that learned about mindset greatly outperformed those in the standard curriculum.
Now, a growing number of schools are doing away with the standard grade system of A-F. The letter F, which synonymously stands for Failure, too easily persuades students into a fixed mindset.
Fixed: “My abilities are static, I do not like challenges, I am either good at it or I am not.”
Growth: “My abilities can always improve, I embrace challenges, with some effort I can be good at anything.”
Instead of giving students an F, some schools are using a “not there yet” grading system with teachers even going so far as to create retake tests that focus on the portion of the curriculum that the students are struggling with.
This works just as well in a business context.
Think of a current problem at work, it can be any obstacle or challenge you must overcome in the next month.
Now ask yourself, “If I put in enough effort, grit, and perseverance…can I overcome it?” If you answered yes, congratulations on your growth mindset!
Continually frame the obstacle in this context…I am not there yet.
If you answered no, then it might be time to bring in a colleague to help think about the issue.
In many cases, it takes another perspective to encourage innovation and help you think outside the box. Challenges help you…or rather force you to grow.
By overcoming them, you become stronger and all it takes is a shift in mindset from "I am not there" to "I am not there…yet."
No matter what, praise your team's effort regardless if they succeed or fail. Reinforce that effort, grit, and perseverance (tenets of a growth mindset) will help them overcome all their challenges before them.
If you create a growth mindset for yourself and your team, failure is only an opportunity to learn. So fail fast, fail hard, and relish in the challenge because mistakes are only mistakes if you don’t learn from them.
Note from the author: Growth vs Fixed mindset is a slight oversimplification but generally apt way of thinking about your mindset. There is also a third, called ‘mixed’ mindset that sits in the middle of growth and fixed. There is still a multitude of ongoing research about the ‘mixed’ mindset that has yet to be peer-reviewed. If you wish to learn more, you can click here