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Growth Mindset : the psychology of success

What do you think determines a person's success? Since the 1970s, Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, has been researching this question and in particular, how mindsets influence people's lives and their success. According to her, the world is divided into two categories: those with a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset.


The Fixed Mindset

People with a fixed mindset think that strengths, abilities and personality are determined at birth, genetically, and that there is not much we can do about it. Some are born bright or gifted and others not ...

For people with a fixed mindset, the goal is above all to confirm that they are intelligent. These people therefore tend to:

- Avoid challenges because they can represent a source of failure, which could expose how incapable they are!

- Not to reach their full potential because they choose objectives which they are sure to achieve and make them feel valued rather than challenge themselves.


The Growth Mindset

People with a growth mindset believe that strengths are developed through practice and that everyone can improve with perseverance. No matter where you start, your personality, skills and abilities can develop.

People with this mindset are more likely to:

• Undertake projects in which they can learn things, even if they reveal their weaknesses in doing so.

• See mistakes and failures as learning opportunities and accept risk.

• Accept constructive criticism and persevere in the face of difficulties

• Be motivated by obstacles, criticisms or difficulties because they know that this is the path to success.

Carole Dweck's research on mindset highlights the following paradox:

The greatest obstacle to success is the absence of failure.

The focus should therefore not be on success, but on learning.


What we can do to help our children develop a growth mindset


1.Have a positive outlook towards failure

Ex: How did the math test go (and not: what grade did you get?)

Ah, it was difficult, does that mean that you learned new things?

Ex: In what area did you struggle today?

Ex: Did you fail your piano exam? I understand that you are disappointed, but do you think that you practised enough? What could we do next time?

Ex: In any case, well done for trying, we knew it wouldn't be easy and you still tried, let’s celebrate.


2. Show them their past resilience

For example, how they "failed" when they learnt to walk. It can really boost them! "You kept falling but no one was as persevering as you! You got up and started over and over again! "


3. Be interested in effort more than results

"I can't play this piece of piano"

Don't judge or use notions of value (good, bad) instead use: improvement, efforts, focus, perseverance etc ...


4. Lead by example

"I failed my soufflé; I’ll understand why and try again. "

"I am terrible at bowling?" No problem, I’ll play anyway because 1) I can improve 2) I am still having fun. "

"I didn't get the promotion I expected?" I’ll work harder, train and try again."


5. Talk to them about neuroplasticity

They are not too young to understand, and like us, they like explanations that make sense. One of the most important discoveries of our time in neuroscience is neuroplasticity: the fact that our brain is “plastic” - in permanent development - and that the more we repeat a behaviour, the more the brain connections get stronger and the easier the task becomes.



• Steve Jobs was laid off from his own company, before coming back to take it over, which gave him the reputation we know today.

• Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, had a path full of failures (rejected by universities, rejected by KFC, bankruptcy etc...) before becoming multi-billionaire.

• Thomas Edison is said to have failed 10,000 times before figuring out how to improve the light bulb.

• J.K Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers before getting Harry Potter published

•  Michael Jordan "I've missed more than 9,000 shots... I've lost almost 300 games. I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeeded."

At Fabulogram, all our Noteboks are infused with notions of Growth Mindset to help your children develop resilience, the ability to bounce back and a dare to try.

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