The work of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck suggests that there is a scientific substance to the idea that mindset matters-our belief systems directly affect our behavior, which in turn affects our success in learning.
What have you always struggled to learn?
We have all gone through a hard time learning something. How about we all enlighten ourselves that the most important step to solving these problems is improving our innate ability?
At some point, we have all used explanations like “I cannot do that task, I do not have the necessary skill”, or “I cannot apply for that interview, the qualifications are quite high.”
These kinds of perspectives frame our capacity to learn something out of our control when in reality, it is influenced heavily by our own beliefs.
If learning is a journey from a place of knowing less to one of knowing more, then trying to learn something when we don’t believe we can do it is like trying to drive with the handbrake on.
Can we try and take Henry Ford’s old adage into consideration for a minute? “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are probably right.” Or Muhammed Ali’s most cited quote, “If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it.”
According to Dweck, there are two types of learners:
Who are you between the two?
Having a growth mindset doesn’t mean we have to believe that anyone can become the next Martin Luther, but we acknowledge that our potential to learn is unbounded and that the power to increase our abilities is within our control.
Approaching things from this perspective creates a real passion for learning, and makes us more likely to apply the grit we need to succeed.
We become less discouraged by failure and more attentive when we are struggling; we start to see difficulty as an opportunity to stretch ourselves rather than trying to avoid it.
All these characteristics not only make us more likely to learn new things but they raise our chances of reaching our goals in our careers and personal lives.
The key take away is that our mindset is fundamental. It is more important than inherent ability in learning performance and has a huge impact on the other areas of our life such as our career and relationships.
All learning strategies, tools and techniques are almost useless if we don’t combine them with a strong, growth based learning mindset - the simple belief that the power to improve our learning abilities lies in our own hands.