January 3, 2016

Happy 2016! The year of the Growth Mind Set! I have written about this concept in the past. In this month's Scientific American Mind, Carol Dweck explores the latest research. The growth mind set is the state of mind where one believes that there are no limits to what we can think of and achieve. The data shows clearly that people with this mindset learn more and perform better on hard subjects than their equally intelligent peers that believe that intelligence is a fixed asset.

Historically, it was believed that fixed mind beliefs are set in stone. However, over the past decade many different studies on negativity beliefs to limiting beliefs have disproven this theory.

Dr. Dweck's team has shown that through workshops on growth mind sets, students can shift into a growth state and actually grow new neurons in their brain for enhanced connectivity and thus boosting overall performance.

The more interesting part of the newer research is that these same changes have a secondary side effect. Reduced depression and aggression, increased will power and the desire to complete difficult tasks even in conflict environments.

The growth mind set sets the end goal above the trivialities of personality difference and self worry. In a work or school environment this is useful. In history, we have seen this occur in places of war and stress. In an effort to break the German enigma code during World War II, a team of unlikely math geniuses collaborated to complete the impossible task. In another time these coworkers would not get along without the growth mind task and goal.

The growth mind wants to achieve a goal. Negative energy and beliefs only limit that end goal and thus have little to no place in this paradigm. Common goals are great motivators for those with a growth mind.

How do we apply this to 2016?

1) Only praise a child's effort and less the intelligence
2) Praise the process. As tasks get harder, the process is always the key. They will have to utilize newer strategies to finish a task. Here is your praise point!
3) When they fail, which they will, be there to talk about the next round of strategy to succeed. What is the new process? Where were we limited the first time? (I do this a lot with my kids while playing chess)
4) Let them struggle!
5) Have goals!

Dr. M