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on Leading the Next Generation


Four Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset in Students

Some years ago, Dr. Carol Dweck wrote a book called Mindset. It was based on her research at Columbia University, where she and her team discovered what was preventing students from really achieving their potential. This has special application for today’s coaches, educators, employers, and parents.

In a single phrase, it was a “fixed mindset” versus a “growth mindset.”

We were privileged to hear from Carol Dweck at this year’s National Leadership Forum that we hosted in Atlanta. She reminded us that both students and adults can be guilty of falling into the trap of thinking with a fixed mindset.

What does that mean, you say?

A “fixed mindset” believes that you are what you are, and you really can’t grow or change much in life. This person makes statements like:

  • “Well, I’m just not good at math.”
  • “I just can’t learn to throw a slider.”
  • “I’ve never been good at setting picks.”
  • “I just don’t remember names well.”

As adults, we find this mindset lingering, moving us to say:

  • “I can’t ever seem to balance the checkbook.”
  • “I just can’t lose weight.”
  • “I’m not very good at starting conversations with players.”
  • “I’m not a good leader.”

Dr. Dweck says that kind of thinking can stunt our growth.

Instead, she advocates a “growth mindset.” This thinking assumes that while some issues are tougher than others for each of us, we all can grow; and given enough effort, we can fair far better than we ever imagined by just thinking correctly about our lives. The growth mindset is not a lesson in futility. It doesn’t mean we live in denial. It simply refuses to believe in a fate that is thrust upon us that we have no choice about. If I am not good at math today, I am not destined to be poor at math forever. This is not my identity.

Four Ways to Build a Growth Mindset

After talking with Dr. Dweck on the Stanford University campus, I asked her about developing a growth mindset. How can both adults and students build one? Let me offer four simple steps below.

  1. Believe that your brain works like a muscle.

Through the right training, our brains can be developed, just like a muscle in a fitness center. When we view our brains this way, we stop hiding behind excuses and get honest: If we’re not changing, it’s because we’re lazy. There are specific tasks or exercises you can perform to expand your brain in areas you felt were impossible to develop.

  1. Use the word “yet.”

It’s okay to be honest about your challenges, but insert the word “yet” into your affirmations: I am not good at math… yet. I am not great at spelling…. yet. I am not a good dancer… yet. I am not good at shooting free throws… yet. Dr. Dweck believes this single word, while it isn’t magic, can transform the way we view our problems. Our current condition isn’t good, but we are in route towards progress. The word actually fosters the idea that we are growing and improving.

  1. Affirm variables that are in our control.

Too many parents and teachers unwittingly affirm attributes that are out of our student’s control. We say things like, “You’re smart. You’re beautiful. You’re gifted.” There is nothing inherently wrong with these phrases, but Dweck’s research tells us it causes students to stop working hard. They say things like: “Well, if I’m so smart, I shouldn’t have to try so hard!” Instead, we must affirm variables that are in their control: “I love the strategy you used on that problem. I love your work ethic in practice. I love how honest you are with your friends. I love how hard you tried.” When we affirm effort, which is in their control, we tend to get more effort.

  1. Surround yourself with “growth mindset” people.

People will grow into the conversations (and people) they have around them. You will become more and more like the people you have around you. Obviously, we can’t control every interaction we have with people, but we can choose our inner circle. Growing people determine to surround themselves with growth mindset people, who become contagious with others. You will reflect the books you read and the people you position next to you.

Both adults and kids can fall into the trap of fixed mindsets. We get stuck in old patterns and routines and become lazy when it comes to risk and growth. We make excuses as to why we can’t change or grow or make a difference. This prevents us from becoming who we’re capable of becoming. I read recently that women from one of the poorest slums of Uganda, earning less than a dollar a day, raised over $1,000 for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Wow. Here’s to cultivating a growth mindset this year as you teach and lead your students.


  1. charlene.fonseca on August 25, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Thank you for the wonderful reminders.

  2. Oleg21 on January 8, 2022 at 3:34 pm

    Personally, I adore learning new things and used to have a great drive to do so. I now have my own family and children. I’m afraid I don’t have time to teach youngsters math. We also decided to try our hand at math for children. I’d also want to mention that my children are now being taught exact sciences over the Internet, which is very, really straightforward and quick. I suggest you get to know one another.

  3. vassapa on March 26, 2022 at 10:01 am

    It’s common to hear that math is hard, but this is a common misconception. The problem lies in a faulty foundation, not in the subject itself. While this might seem obvious, it’s also the result of a lack of use. Many children struggle with mathematics because they do not understand the concepts. Most math curriculums simply dump a lot of information on kids. That’s a problem because it discourages students from using math.

  4. dansed on March 26, 2022 at 1:45 pm

    kids mathematics puzzles are a fun way to help them improve their math skills while having fun! They can be difficult at first, but they’ll get the hang of them pretty quickly, thanks to these puzzles. These math riddles for kids will help them learn how to solve the most complicated mathematical problems, while also sharpening their minds. Here are 20 examples of great puzzles for kids. Whether you’re looking to teach your child basic addition or more advanced math concepts, these puzzles will have your little ones engaged and learning.

  5. balbes on March 26, 2022 at 1:46 pm

    A well-designed math for kids program should include a variety of mathematical exercises and problem-solving activities. While many preschool math textbooks feature a variety of games, they may be a bit too easy for younger children. These exercises are not challenging enough to cause frustration and should be done only with the support of an adult. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier for your child. First, find a math for kid program that your child can keep up with.

  6. Jon on March 30, 2022 at 11:52 am

    Thank you for writing this article. I think that’s exactly what I needed lately. I am one of those people who can quit halfway through, because some seemingly trifle may not work out. Perhaps the problem is that I think and say exactly such ultimatums and my brain takes it so seriously. Even while I was reading your article and started adding the prefix “yet” to some unfinished tasks, it became mentally a little easier for me. So this might work! cbd oil 20%

  7. hassba on April 22, 2022 at 7:19 am

    Math for kids is an essential part of the education system, from the moment a child first learns to talk. Math helps children develop their cognitive skills and enhance their learning abilities. However, it is important to remember that a child can’t be taught to count by just reciting the numbers verbally. Math activities need to be engaging and interactive for the child to engage in the subject. Listed below are some of the best ways to make math for kids fun and enjoyable.

  8. vassapa on April 23, 2022 at 11:52 am

    If you’re looking for a fun way to introduce math to your child, consider reading one of Sean Connolly’s books. These books present math problems in the form of dangerous scenarios, with advice on how to solve them given in the beginning. Using grid pages to represent work space, the stories encourage children to think in geometric terms. For example, the book “Tornado on Your Tail!” challenges readers to find shelter from a tornado. The solutions to the problems are clearly explained, making it a fun way for children to practice math.

  9. krossa on April 26, 2022 at 6:40 am

    Fortunately, there are numerous resources available online that help parents learn how to teach math to their children. These websites contain free lessons and online games aimed at kids of all ages. These games help kids develop basic math facts, such as addition and subtraction, and build on these by reinforcing essential skills and knowledge. These websites also contain interactive worksheets and quizzes for students of various grade levels. You can find a range of math for kids activities for your home computer, including these games.

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Four Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset in Students