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Quick Note

I'm trying something new! As I grapple alongside clients and colleagues, I wonder if it would be helpful to share resources in more quickly digestible snippets. You are invited to comment below each Quick Note with your thoughts, reactions, wonderings, or additions. Let's give it a try!

Power of Believing You Can Learn & Grow

Do you feel stuck?

In her research on Growth Mindset, Carol Dweck shares with us that "we can grow our brain's capacity to learn and to solve problems. In this talk, she describes two ways to think about a problem that's slightly too hard for you to solve. Are you not smart enough to solve it … or have you just not solved it yet?"

Two Mindsets Image

Source: Carol Dweck: A Summary of Growth and Fixed Mindsets

The above graphic by Dweck shares that fixed mindset demonstrates a belief that intelligence is static and displays the following tendencies. (Italics added by me.)

  1. avoiding challenges (too much of a risk)
  2. giving up easily in face of obstacles (why try, it's too hard)
  3. seeing effort as fruitless (my effort doesn't result in bearing fruit anyway)
  4. ignoring useful negative feedback (it's too threatening or uncomfortable
  5. feeling threatened by the success of others (because it's unattainable anyway)

In comparison, a growth mindset holds the belief that intelligence can be developed and leads to a desire to learn and a tendency to:

  1. embrace challenges
  2. persist in the face of setbacks
  3. see effort as the path to mastery
  4. learn from criticism
  5. find lessons and inspiration in the success of others

What did your schooling experience teach you about growth or fixed mindset? How do you see growth or fixed mindset in yourself?

My K-12 experience taught me subtly, yet poignantly, that I was stupid, even though I'd participated in gifted and talented programs. It wasn't until undergrad that I learned that I'm great at applying concepts, soaking in research, reference sources, following curiosity, and seeing complexity, but I am NOT gifted in memorization. 

A system that values memorization is rooted in a fixed mindset. Growth mindset is seen in an organization or system that sees people as curious, creative, tenacious, and persistent, where fear doesn't freeze us and we value grappling with what we don't know...yet. 

I hope this encourages you to train your brain to practice a Growth Mindset and get less stuck. You deserve the liberating affects of growth mindset. 

Deanna Signature

Deanna Rolffs (they/them)
Post by Deanna Rolffs (they/them)
October 19, 2022
Deanna Rolffs (they/them) is a strategist, facilitator, coach, systems thinker, and Process Consultant who works with executive leaders and teams at the intersection of organizational theory, leadership development, justice, and equity. Their process consulting approach focuses on organizational transformation via thriving teams, brave leadership, equitable systems, and inclusive communities. Deanna served as a Senior Consultant with Design Group International since 2018, became a Senior Design Partner in 2021, and launched L3 Catalyst Group in 2023.