Growth Mindset and Success

Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset: Key to Harnessing 'Intrinsic Motivation' to achieve Success on Your Own Terms

You may have already heard that 'the key to success may be in your mind'.  While there are a lot of different ways to describe the role of mindset to success and achievement, today I want to focus on the role of a 'growth mindset' - where you believe that people can grow and change their outcomes over time rather than staying fixed at some preconceived notion of who they are or what's possible for them.  An interesting piece of research has shown that a growth mindset is connected with intrinsic motivation! What is intrinsic motivation? Where you do things because it makes sense emotionally for you. That is, there is an emotional payoff from doing something meaningful even if financial rewards, or other people's approval, don't ever materialise.

How does this help with success?  It helps with success on your own terms.  Your intrinsic motivation is your beautiful internal compass guiding you on how to direct your energy to achieve states of flow and longterm fulfilment.  In a world where we are constantly bombarded with messages about what we "should" do, it can be hard to trust our own inner voice. But if you want to achieve lasting success, that's exactly what you need to do.

As Joseph Campbell said, "If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living."  Intrinsic motivation is the thing that helps you put that into action.

The Research

According to researcher Betsy Ng, published in Brain Sciences a growth mentality is linked to motivation and overall success.  Teaching growth mentality to junior high school students resulted in improved enthusiasm and academic achievement, according to another report.   A growth mindset was found to be particularly helpful for students studying science and mathematics, according to the researchers. Other crucial benefits include reduction of burnouts, health issues such as stress and anxiety are reduced, and behavioural issues being limited, if not avoided overall.

A 'Fixed Mindset'

A fixed mind is the opposite of the growth mindset and while people don't talk about it a lot, you might recognise it in yourself or others. As a 'frame' to understand your experiences it prevents you from learning new skills, experimenting with new ideas, formulating new tactics, and, most importantly, thinking big. It ties you down in fear and doubts that can derail you from taking action.

If you find yourself saying “Even if I tried, I couldn't improve,” take a pause then rephrase your self-talk to something more optimistic. It doesn't have to be delusional to be optimistic about your chances of growth, or change. We now know from neuroscience that we have been underestimating our ability to learn and change as a species until recently!  According to other research in neuroscience, we all are inherently built for 'neuroplasticity', the ability of the brain form new associations, expand old ones, and increase the pace at which pulses are transmitted between neurons.

Changing a fixed mindset mentality to a growth mindset is like changing anything else: you just need to be willing to question beliefs you picked up a long time ago that are no longer serving you.  Instead, know that you can rewire your brain to learn new things, know that by pushing out of your comfort zone and seeking new experiences you will naturally grow and develop.  Know that neuroplasticity continues throughout our lifetime. Understand that failure is part of a journey towards success, and that you are fundamentally OK, with, or without the approval of others.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • A growth mindset has been shown scientifically to connect with intrinsic motivation.
  • Intrinsic motivation is when you do something because it makes sense emotionally for you - even if there are no external rewards.
  • A growth mindset can help you achieve states of flow and longterm fulfilment.
  • Trusting your own inner voice is key to lasting success.
  • You can rewire your brain to learn new things, including to have a Growth Mindset
  • Failure is just a part of the journey towards the most challenging goals.

A Growth Mindset is key to being a Coach and being Coachable!  If you would like to learn more about coaching, feel free to join in my free online learning, Introduction to Coaching.  Click through here to access it today.

About the Author

I am a qualified Coach (ICF PCC level) with over 12 years of professional experience as a Coach. I am also a Coach Trainer. I am passionate about supporting others to fulfil their potential and to turn their dreams into a reality.