Tuesday, May 5, 2015

3: Adopt a Growth Mindset

One of the most powerful forces to propel you toward greater success is your belief that change is possible. The brain is malleable. It gets stronger and stronger, and works better, with exercise. Each time you stretch the boundaries of your limits in some way – whether it be through greater self-control, socializing better, or learning something new – the brain forms new connections.

In other words, neither your intelligence, nor your abilities and thinking skills, are fixed. Everyone can improve their intelligence and cognitive abilities!

The question is … do you take full advantage of this malleability, by possessing a growth mindset?

In writing her book, Mindset – How You Can Fulfill Your Potential (2006), Carol Dweck, a professor at Stanford University, who created the concept of mindset, studied first year pre-med majors taking their first chemistry class. Students with a growth mindset got higher grades than those with a fixed mindset. Even when they did not do well on a test, the growth mindset students bounced back on the next test.

Mindset is the cognitive view that individuals develop for themselves. You likely have one of two mindsets:

  • a fixed mindset, in which you believe that your qualities are carved in stone and cannot change; or
  • a growth mindset, in which you believe your qualities can change and improve through effort.
In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. Sometimes they say things like, “I’m just not good at … (math, etc.).” They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They are wrong.

In contrast, when people they have a growth mindset, they believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. And note this - virtually all great persons possess these qualities!

The “growth mindset” is perhaps the most fundamental underpinning of grit, tenacity, and perseverance in academic pursuits. It has been found that students are more likely to persist through academic challenges when they believe the effort will make them smarter and lead to success. And they are right!

What is required for a growth mindset? It’s easy to withdraw into a fixed mindset when the going gets tough. But know this - as you bump up against obstacles, if you keep growing, work harder, stay the course, and improve your strategies, then you will become a more successful student.

While fixed mindset students focused on memorization of terms verbatim, growth mindset students took charge of their motivation and learning, searching for themes and principles in the course. While fixed mindset students upon receiving bad scores just “moved on” (many dropping out of pre-med), growth mindset students went over their mistakes until they understood why they made them. In other words, growth mindset students studied to learn, not just to ace the test.

Your assignment … should you choose to accept it (and please do!) … watch this 11-minute video: “ThePower of Belief - Mindset and Success,” by Eduardo Briceno at TEDxManhattanBeach.  After watching the video, please write in your journal a 150-word or longer essay, “Why and How I Should Adopt a Growth Mindset.”
Should you desire, undertake a Google and/or YouTube search for “growth mindset” to gain greater understanding of this important concept.

Dr. Ron A. Rhoades is an Asst. Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University's Gordon Ford College of Business, where he chairs the (B.S. Finance) Financial Planning Program. An innovative, passionate teacher, he is the author of Choose to Succeed in College and in Life: Continously Improve, Persevere, and Enjoy the Journey (2014)from which many of these blog posts are derived.

Dr. Rhoades also serves as a consultant to the Garrett Planning Network, a nationwide network of independent, Fee-Only financial planners making competent, objective financial advice accessible to all people. He is the author of several books, dozens of articles, and he is a frequent speaker at financial planning and investments conferences. He is the recipient of many awards for his advocacy on behalf of the fiduciary standard. Dr. Rhoades is also a member of The Florida Bar, and he practices estate planning and transfer taxation for select current clients.

Dr. Rhoades and his wife, Cathy, reside in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

To contact Dr. Rhoades, please e-mail: WKUBear@gmail.com.

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