You live and learn. I’d not come across the concept of growth mindset until around a year ago when I went to my daughter’s school for a parent’s evening.
The headmaster gave a short introduction about it and went on to talk about the school’s commitment to instilling a growth mindset in all the students.
It seemed I’ve been living under a rock!
He gave us a short summary and then showed us the following video to explain in what growth mindset is.
It explains what growth mindset means in a brilliantly simple way.
So you may have heard of growth mindset before. It’s possible you’ve read my post about why blogs fail, where I touch upon it.
For those who haven’t heard of it before, I’ll provide an overview and then discuss why it’s important for us as bloggers.
I’ll also touch upon ways we can develop a growth mindset… because it’s never too late to learn, right?
What Are Fixed & Growth Mindsets?
The growth mindset theory connects the perception we all have about learning and intelligence with how effectively we learn things.
It was pioneered by Dr. Carol Dweck, who suggested the way in which students perceive their abilities plays a significant role in their academic motivation and achievement.
Dweck defined two contrary mindsets to explain why this is so and explained how each has a specific and a very different reaction to challenges, especially failure. She named these differing mindsets:
- Fixed mindset.
- Growth mindset.
Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that ability is fixed and limited by the capabilities they were born with. They believe that failure occurs due to the limited abilities of the individual.
Conversely, individuals with a growth mindset believe that abilities can be learned if effort is made to practise or study. They believe that failure occurs not because of their personal limitations, but that they presently lack ability. The key word here is “presently”, which suggests it can change.
What’s really interesting about Dweck’s research is that she found students who believed that their intelligence could be improved (a growth mindset), outperformed students who believed their intelligence was fixed (fixed mindset).
Her research also suggested that individuals with a growth mindset are more able to respond to challenges in more productive ways than individuals with a fixed mindset
So What About Growth Mindset & Blogging?
One of the reasons blogs fail is the fear of failure. Most people start a blog full of enthusiasm. It’s a new shiny object that perhaps offers potential to make money. This is exciting and motivating in equal measure.
However, most blogs are NOT successful right out of the gate. As a result, initial enthusiasm can wane when a true appreciation of the time and effort it takes kicks in.
Many blogs fail around about the 3 month period when fixed mindset self-doubt and fear of failure kick in:
- I’m doing something wrong.
- It won’t work.
- I’m not smart enough.
- Other blogs are better than mine.
- I can’t do it.
- People will think I’m stupid. This IS stupid.
- I’m wasting my time.
Of course there’s always likely to be some form of questioning when your blog doesn’t appear to be working out the way you imagined it might, but blogging with a growth mindset means you are better equipped to carry on.
Reframing Blogger Thoughts in a Growth Mindset Way
If we can reframe the bullet points above, we can recalibrate these thoughts to be more in line with a mindset that is more likely to result in success:
- I’m doing something wrong at the moment but this can change.
- It won’t work like this. I need to find another way to make it work.
- I’m not smart enough right now. I need to learn what else I can do.
- Other blogs are better than mine at the moment. Mine will get better.
- I can’t do it right now… but I can get better at it.
- This feels stupid right now but it can get better.
- It feels like I’m wasting my time but things can improve.
A blogger with a growth mindset is more likely to pass through periods of doubt if they don’t see themselves as having reached the limit of their abilities.
Instead of quitting at this point, a blogger with a growth mindset might recognize that while things are not right at the moment, they can improve with time, practise and sustained effort.
Of course there’s never a guarantee that any of us will make a success of our blog. However, believing that personal limitations make us unable to create a successful blog makes it more likely we’ll give up when the going gets tough.
Received wisdom probably tells most of us that changing the way we think in such a way is not possible.
But did you know our brains are plastic?
Okay, not literally… but they have plasticity in the sense they can be shaped or moulded to adapt to new conditions.
Neuroscience research into brain plasticity contradicts the received wisdom with hard evidence.
Dr. Michael Merzenich, Professor Emeritus, UCSF and Kavli Laureate in Neuroscience has researched brain plasticity for over 30 years and explains it in this way:
Changes in the physical brain manifest as changes in our abilities. For example, each time we learn a new dance step, it reflects a change in our physical brains: new ‘wires’ (neural pathways) that give instructions to our bodies on how to perform the step.Source: Dr. Michael Merzenich
It seems our brains can refine existing neural connections or make completely new ones: literally, the brain can change physically in a positive way, even into old age.
Of course the way in which this happens is beyond my ability to explain, but if you’re interested, you can find out more from Dr. Michael Merzenich himself:
The point of discussing brain plasticity is that you do not have to be set in your ways. You can change how your brain works and consequently you can switch your mindset.
Becoming a Blogger With a Growth Mindset
In order to avoid succumbing to fixed mindset beliefs and the temptation to quit, we can actively try to reframe how we think about things to try to develop thoughts and beliefs akin to a growth mindset.
I’m convinced this can help to give you a better chance of blogging success.
Set Realistic Expectations
Becoming a successful blogger will take time and a lot of effort. It’s simply not possible to learn everything you need to know in a few weeks or months.
It’s also not possible to become known as an authority in any niche quickly: it takes consistency and time for people to recognize your blog as being authoritative.
It will also take time to build a following who can’t wait to devour your latest post. Why put pressure on yourself to meet targets that cannot be hit?
Give yourself a break and be realistic.
Accept You’ll Make Mistakes
You will make some mistakes during your blogging journey. They frustrate the heck out of us all, but mistakes are an important part of learning.
No-one can learn to be an expert without making a few wrong turns… and making a wrong turn can lead to you finding the right way.
- Try not to be too hard on yourself when things go awry.
- Remember that you are learning… even from the mistakes you make.
Recognize You’re Not Perfect
If we’re not honest with ourselves about the areas where we’re not so strong, we can’t work to improve them.
Identifying our weaknesses, and being honest about, them enables us to overcome them.
Acknowledge Your Effort Above Your Ability
We often evaluate our value through our abilities. When we’re learning something new a more positive approach is to acknowledge our effort rather than how able we are.
Reward yourself for the effort you’re putting in instead of worrying you’re not good enough. With time and effort you can be where you want to be.
Remember the Word “Yet”
Replace the idea that your blog isn’t a success, with the idea that is isn’t a success yet.
If you feel you’re struggling to be where you want, “yet” helps to suggests that things will change:
- I don’t have enough content yet.
- My blog isn’t getting traffic yet.
- I don’t have enough links yet.
It might seem simplistic but it can help to give purpose to your current efforts.
Develop Your Purpose
Dr. Dweck’s research identified that students with a growth mindset tended to have a greater sense of purpose.
By understanding and cultivating a sense of purpose, perhaps we can move towards a growth mindset.
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.
What do you think about growth mindset? Why not share your thoughts and questions below?