Growth mindset is a concept.
A concept is something abstract, like ‘passion or perseverance’.
You can’t ‘teach passion’ because a person has to experinece it themselves to know it. It’s the same with ‘growth mindset’.
But there is something you can do with a ‘concept’ like passion, perseverance and ‘growth mindset’.
You can Model it. Live it.
Then, when you talk about it, you have personal anecdotes, examples, feelings you can share.
These things make up something I call the ‘biofeedback of authenticity’*
People can tell the difference between someone who knows about something and someone who knows it.
But even if we do feel like we understand something – that we know it and live it- we still might have hard time explaining it.
In those cases, it can help to break it down more explicitly.
*I cover this in Podcast Episode 9
Here’s how I have broken it down for myself over the years, to try to help me explain the importance of brain plasticity* to others:
- Understand that beliefs drive behaviors.
- If we believe we’re hopeless and helpless to change something about ourselves, we’ll not have the motivation to do anything. (‘learned helplessness). Our mind-brain-body system is an efficiency machine. So if something seems like it will require ‘neural and behavioral resources’ on our part, but have zero effect, our mind=brain-body system will not approach that behavior.
- So we need to believe that what we do will have some effect that will be worth our precious neural and behavioral resources. We need to believe in our power to change things we don’t like, and do more things we prefer. This is called agency.
- Since our beliefs drive our behavior, if we can change our beliefs, we can influence our behavior.
- The most effective way i have found in my work to help people believe in their power to change their own behaviors is by helping them see how changeable the human mind is.
- We can have our mind changed by discovering a) something that we didn’t know before and b) something that refutes a belief we currently hold.
- So if we learn that our brains can change according to how we use them. And that we can change our habits and skills depending on how we use our mind and what we use our mental energy to focus on, this can help a person believe that ‘change is possible.’
Just that belief alone can wake someone up from a spell they may have been under – that they can’t do anything to change their behaviors or thoughts or situation.
This is why the idea of ‘neuroplasticity’ is so important.
And why it’s the #1 most important ingredient to any discussion about ‘growth mindset’.
Recent studies are confirming that the key to ‘inducing growth mindset’ is to teaching the concept of neuroplasticity. (check out Trends in Neuroscience: Effects of teaching the concept of neuroplasticity to induce a growth mindset on motivation, achievement, and brain activity: A meta-analysis )
So if you truly want to help inspire yourself and others that ‘change is possible’
– you need to help them understand how our brains gets built
and that is not only possible to develop our neural circuitry in new powerful ways,
it’s scientifically accurate.
*Quick note: i was explaining the idea of ‘neuroplasticity’ to students and staff since about 2008 and had never heard of the term growth mindset, so never used those words before a couple years ago. I merely spoke about the changeability of the brain, and this is what inspired people to believe in their capacity to make changes in their lives
If you’d like to get better at explaining the brain mechanics behind all this, i highly recommend enrolling in my online training.