How To Develop A Growth Mindset

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Did you know that our human brain unconsciously processes roughly 11 million pieces of information per second, according to Forbes? Compare that to the estimate for conscious processing, which is about 40 pieces per second. Then break this down further to processing one thing at a time.


It’s not surprising we feel overwhelmed in the complex world we live in, and this can affect our mindset. With so much information, we compare and despair, we feel overwhelmed and sometimes with too much information we may limit ourselves by what we believe is expected of us.


Growth mindset was developed by a lady called Dr Carol Dweck who said: “For decades I’ve been studying why some people succeed, while people who are equally talented, do not. And over the years I have discovered that peoples’ mindset plays a crucial part in this process.”


In a growth mindset, individuals believe their talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and input from others. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset.


In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are fixed traits. They spend their time recording their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success, without effort. 



But aren’t some people naturally more talented than others? Yes and no. Genetic structures do play a part, but I love the true story about an Australian farmer called Cliff Young who won the world’s toughest race in 1983. The extreme event is a six and a half day race, a little over 600 miles – and generally the runners are young and fit. Cliff was a 61-year-old guy wearing Oshkosh overalls, a t-shirt, a baseball cap, construction boots and waterproofs because he thought it might rain.


The press asked him if he’s ever run a marathon before and he replied, “Nope.” He went on to say, “Well, I’m a farmer. And I must chase my animals around because I don’t have a tractor or a horse. I herd them through days of storms without sleeping for days. I think I can run.”


So, the race starts. Cliff had an advantage that nobody knew. He hadn’t read Runner’s World or been bombarded with information to influence his thinking, and so he didn’t know that he was supposed to run for 18 hours and sleep for six. 


So that night when everyone was so far ahead of him and lying in bed, he just ran right by them. In fact, Cliff ran (with an unusual shuffle style) non-stop for five and a half days, never sleeping and broke the record by 12 hours – at 61 years of age! He won $10,000, which he didn’t expect, and he shared the prize money with the five runners up.


Cliff most certainly had a growth mindset. He wasn’t naturally talented at running, but he believed he could do it; he had a strategy and through hard work he surpassed the elite athletes.


How can you start to be more like Cliff?

  1. See your challenges as opportunities.
  2. Reflect each day on what you’ve failed at and note your learnings.
  1. Stop seeking approval from others.
  2. Identify opportunities to celebrate the success of others.
  1. Focus on rewarding actions, not traits.
  2. Start using the word ‘yet’ more often!


Whilst we may not always have a growth mindset, we can influence control over the choices we make and lean into a growth mindset way of thinking. Whenever you find yourself unmotivated, know that anything is possible. Do the ‘Cliff Young shuffle’, believe in change, and accelerate your mindset.

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