If you wish to succeed at something new, the most important first step is to have a growth mindset. There are a lot of colourful graphics on social media about growth mindsets, many of which suggest that if you believe you can do something, you can. Self belief is an important aspect of having a growth mindset, but if you neglect other essential factors, you’ll not succeed. The idea that simply believing you’ll succeed at something is too simplistic. In this article we’ll explain what a growth mindset is, the attributes you need to establish a growth mindset and how anyone wishing to learn something new – be it the violin, taekwondo or Mandarin Chinese – can do so successful with a growth mindset.
One of the best definitions of a growth mindset is – ’the belief that skills and intelligence can be improved with effort and persistence. People with a growth mindset embrace challenges, stay resilient in the face of difficulties, learn from constructive criticism and seek out inspiration in others’ success.’
When discussing growth mindsets it is often helpful to compare them to their polar opposite – a fixed mindset. The images below detail the differences between these two mindset and on reflection it’s easy to see why people with growth mindsets are more successful at learning and developing new skills.
One important point about mindsets which is often over neglected is that individuals hold both fixed and growth mindsets. Furthermore, you may have a growth mindset in one area (such as technology skills) and a fixed mindset in another area (such as music). Understanding yourself, and the mindsets you have towards different areas of personal development can help you break from a fixed mindset and move towards a growth mindset.
As mentioned, the first step towards having a growth mindset is self belief. If you believe that with time, effort and practice you can acquire new skills and abilities, you have taken the first step to having a growth mindset. The next step is to take action to achieve those goals, and as you take action you’re going to need to embrace other attributes or you’ll find your self belief squashed at the first obstacle you encounter.
‘Simply believing in something doesn’t make it so. Believing you can run a marathon doesn’t mean you can. You need to train the right way for months in advance. Believing you can be a successful author also doesn’t make it a reality. You need to hone your craft, working on specific skills, day in, day out.’
One of the most important factors for succeeding with a growth mindset is having a pathway to success. This is essential to ensure your effort and enthusiasm is channelled in the most effective manner.
If you have self belief, resilience, and determination but you are training in the wrong way, or you lack a pathway, a coach or a teacher to guide your efforts, you could spend years working hard without very little success.
Imagine an individual who wished to run a marathon, but lacked an understanding of how to develop the stamina, improve their muscles and prepare themselves for a 42km run.
That person may eventually complete a marathon but would almost certainly injury themselves in training and take longer to prepare than if they had the correct guidance.
With a pathway to properly prepare for running a marathon that person will use their time effectively, building the necessary levels of stamina, the necessary muscles and the understanding of how a marathon should be run.
It’s often been said that Chinese is a difficult language to learn but those who have approached this fascinating language with a growth mindset and a clear pathway to learning, will challenge those remarks.
Chinese is a very logical language – the grammar, vocabulary and even the characters are logical and with some important insights can be easily understood and remembered. The problem that many learners encounter is that Chinese is often taught to foreigners in the same way it is taught to Chinese children in schools – rote learning, repetition and memorization – and this is not an effective way to learn a foreign language.
With the correct pathway, such as the Domino Chinese method which makes use of the language’s logic and helps learners build their understanding block by block, mastery of Chinese is within anyone’s grasp.