I recently came across this article in the Huffington Post tackling the issue of why some kids try hard and others give up. I have three kids of my own, so it particularly piqued my interest. The article identified a study that researched two ways of thinking: fixed versus growth mindset.
These mindsets are strongly influenced by the type of praise kids receive. Hearing praise focused on the effort (“Great job; you must have tried really hard”) rather than on intelligence (“you’re so smart”) leads to a growth mindset. The children with a growth mindset were more willing to take on more challenging tasks and, as a result, could continue feeling motivated to learn and retain their confidence as problems got harder.
Any leader would love to have motivated and confident adults on their team who have the desire to take on challenges. Organizations can only be successful if they are willing to take on the tough challenges, not hide from them.
How can you develop a growth mindset within your company culture?
First, your organization has to believe it is okay to fail. Our brains grow by getting questions wrong, not right. Even parents allow children to fall while learning to walk or struggling through math problems in school. Organizations have to create that same environment where challenges are embraced. As leaders, we have to allow team members the ability to take on these challenges and learn from failures in a safe, healthy, and constructive way.
Practice, practice, practice
The more learning you do, the smarter you become. One of my children recently started basketball. He was amazed to learn that he spends more time practicing skills and technique than actually playing the game. He’s six but I know plenty of thirty-six year olds who would be amazed if they practiced their skills more than delivering work. Top organizations provide team members the resources, be it time or money, to practice and improve.
Praise—the right way. In the research, kids who were praised for their effort tended to take on challenging tasks, knowing they could learn more. It’s the attempt that matters, and not always the result. Praising is also a way to show others that you care and that you believe in them. It motivates them to keep going. Individuals are doing remarkable things every day. Don’t miss an opportunity to recognize them.
Thank you for reading. You must have tried really hard!