growth mindset

8 Ways You Can Develop A Growth Mindset

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I have just commenced working with a team who are going through a tremendous amount of change. Based on initial conversations with the team and each individual, it is obvious that some are stuck in the mud. They see the change as a threat to the way they have done things for many years and are worried that all the skills and abilities they have developed and demonstrated in the work place up to now will be for nothing. They see the change as scary and are either in denial or active resistance about the imminent changes and are worried about how they will manage to learn all the new requirements of their roles. However other team members are somewhat excited about the opportunity the change will offer to them. They are hoping they might be able to learn new things, work with new clients and be challenged in new ways. They seem much more open to exploring the change and what it has to offer.

When embracing the challenges that life often throws our way, we need to consider what mindset we are firmly entrenched in. Do we believe in our ability to grow and change or do we believe we have fixed characteristics and intelligence? Do we have a fixed or a growth mindset?

A growth mindset is “the understanding that abilities and understanding can be developed” Those with a growth mindset believe that they can get smarter, more intelligent, and more talented through putting in time and effort.

On the flipside, a fixed mindset is one that assumes abilities and understanding are relatively fixed. Those with a fixed mindset may not believe that intelligence can be enhanced, or typically believe that you either “have it or you don’t” when it comes to abilities and talents.


What’s the Main Difference?

The main difference between the two mindsets is the belief in the permanence of intelligence and ability; one views it as very permanent, with little to no room for change in either direction, while the other views it as more changeable, with opportunities for improvement (or, for that matter, regression).

This difference in mindset may lead to marked differences in behaviour as well. If someone believes intelligence and abilities are immutable traits, they are not likely to put in much effort to change their inherent intelligence and abilities. On the other hand, those who believe they can change these traits may be much more willing to put in extra time and effort to achieve more ambitious goals. With a growth mindset, individuals may achieve more than others because they are worrying less about seeming smart or talented and putting more of their energy into learning (Dweck, 2016).


We can see examples of a fixed and a growth mindset every day in our workplaces. Consider going into a meeting with your boss and you receive negative feedback. Your boss thinks you aren’t putting in enough effort, or you’re making too many mistakes, or that you’re simply not competent enough to handle your current project. Someone with a fixed mindset may decide that their boss has no idea what she’s talking about and completely ignore the feedback. Alternatively, they might agree with their boss and think “I just can’t do anything right. I don’t have what it takes to be successful.”

A growth mindset response would be to seriously consider this feedback, evaluate it as objectively as possible, and seek out more information and/or another opinion to compare. If your boss has a point, you would come up with possible solutions to improve your performance and do your best to implement them.

Or what about if you are assigned a daunting new task at work it can be tempting to think “I’m not good at this kind of stuff. It’s just not my strong suit!” You might be right that it’s not one of your strengths, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn it. A fixed mindset will take this self-defeating thought and run with it, concluding that there’s no point in putting all that much effort into something that just isn’t your cup of tea. On the other hand, a growth mindset will see this new challenge as an opportunity to grow and learn new things. Someone with this mindset might think, “I can figure this out. What do I need to do to get my skills at the right level? Are there classes I can take? People I can ask for help? Any other resources that might help?”

The growth mindset will lead you to new skills, new knowledge, and new areas of expertise, while the fixed mindset will leave you about where you started—with little skill in the task at hand and little confidence in your abilities.

But How Do You Change Your Mindset

I was reading a recent article by Courtney Akerman and she suggests there are eight general approaches for developing the foundation of a growth mindset:

1.    Create a new compelling belief: a belief in yourself, in your own skills and abilities, and in your capacity for positive change.

2.    View failure in a different light: see failure as an opportunity to learn from your experiences and apply what you have learned next time around.

3.    Cultivate your self-awareness: work on becoming more aware of your talents, strengths, and weaknesses; gather feedback from those who know you best and put it together for a comprehensive view of yourself.

4.    Be curious and commit to lifelong learning: try to adopt the attitude of a child, looking at the world around you with awe and wonderment; ask questions and truly listen to the answers.

5.    Get friendly with challenges: know that if you mean to accomplish anything worthwhile, you will face many challenges on your journey; prepare yourself for facing these challenges, and for failing sometimes.

6.    Do what you love and love what you do: it’s much easier to succeed when you are passionate about what you’re doing; whether you cultivate love for what you already do or focus on doing what you already love, developing passion is important.

7.    Be tenacious: it takes a lot of hard work to succeed, but it takes even more than working hard—you must be tenacious, weathering obstacles and getting back up after each time you fall.

8.    Inspire and be inspired by others: it can be tempting to envy others when they succeed, especially if they go farther than you, but it will not help you to succeed; commit to being an inspiration to others and use the success of others to get inspiration as well (Zimmerman, 2016).

Follow these 8 principles and you will find it hard to have anything but a growth mindset! You can see Courtney’s full article here.

For more specific techniques you can use to start building a growth mindset now, try these 25 suggestions from Saga Briggs (2015):

·         Acknowledge and embrace your imperfections; don’t hide from your weaknesses.

·         View challenges as opportunities for self-improvement.

·         Try different learning tactics and strategies; don’t consider any strategies one-size-fits-all.

·         Keep up on the research on brain plasticity to continually encourage the growth mindset.

·         Replace the word “failing” with the word “learning” in your vocabulary.

·         Stop seeking approval for others, and prioritize learning over approval.

·         Value the learning process over the end result.

·         Cultivate a sense of purpose, and keep things in perspective.

·         Celebrate your growth with others, and celebrate their growth as well.

·         Emphasize learning well over learning quickly.

·         Reward actions instead of traits.

·         Redefine “genius” as hard work plus talent, rather than talent alone.

·         Give constructive criticism, and accept criticism of your own work as constructive.

·         Disassociate improvement from failure; “room for improvement” does not mean “failure.”

·         Reflect on your learning regularly.

·         Reward hard work before talent or inherent ability.

·         Emphasize the relationship between learning and “brain training;” like any other muscle, the brain can be trained.

·         Cultivate your grit (determination and perseverance).

·         Abandon the idea of succeeding on talent alone; recognize that it will always take some work as well.

·         Use the phrase “not yet” more often, as in, “I haven’t mastered it yet.”

·         Learn from the mistakes that others make.

·         Make a new goal for every goal you accomplish; never stop striving towards your goals.

·         Take risks and be vulnerable with others.

·         Think realistically about how much time and effort your goal will take.

·         Take ownership of your own attitude and take pride in your developing growth mindset.

Want to know more about developing a growth mindset? Contact me to discuss coaching to assist you on this journey at


Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness and mindset to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.


A Growth Mindset Organisation Requires a Growth Mindset Leader

Develop a Growth Mindset

Develop a Growth Mindset

If an organisation is going to adopt a growth mindset, its leaders need to also cultivate this same growth mindset and believe that strengths can be developed. I recently wrote an article for the Australian Business Executive on Developing A Growth Mindset In Your Organisation. However no organisation can adopt this mindset if those at the top are not leading the way.

Research shows that managers see far more leadership potential in their employees when their companies adopt a growth mindset — the belief that talent should be developed in everyone, not viewed as a fixed, innate gift that some have and others don’t.

Developing a growth mindset from both a leadership and organisational perspective takes hard work and dedication. Some perceive that developing a growth mindset is all about constantly rewarding and praising effort. However effort alone is not always desirable if the outcome is unproductive.

So what does a leader with a growth mindset look like?

They see setbacks as a learning opportunity

Leaders who embrace a growth mindset know that both learning and progress are just as important as effort. So leaders with a growth mindset don’t get bogged down by their shortcomings or those of their staff, instead they encourage themselves and others to learn from their experiences. They have the opportunity to apply their collective knowledge and use it to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. It’s often easy to experience insecurity when a challenge seems daunting. However an individual with a growth mindset has an opportunity to acknowledge these internal self-doubts and then reframe and counteract with self-statements to allow them to get back on track.

They look for new opportunities

Leaders who embrace a growth mindset demonstrate flexibility. When you take time to develop your growth mindset, you start to see opportunities around you and as a result you can start to seize these opportunities. When you see a staff member demonstrate a strength in the workplace, you can immediately recognise this potential and work to adopt a strategy to maximise their potential. When you attend a conference and gain new insights, you are motivated to maximise your learning and implement the new strategies back into your workplace. Your goal is also not only to maximise the strengths of your staff and your organisation, but also to maximise your own potential. You have the opportunity to develop the character strength of love of learning, and soak up opportunities that reading, internet search and webinars provide.

They minimise procrastination and avoid distractions

Leaders who adopt a growth mindset recognise the substantial gains they can make through hard work and dedication. They are committed to goal setting and they typically have stickability to those goals. As a leader it is often easy to become distracted. Putting out fires is often a full-time occupation and a leader can feel that they are bogged down by urgent, but not important tasks. But leaders with a growth mindset recognise their specific purpose and dedicate themselves to productive effort to ensure both they and their team work towards the collective vision.

If a team is experiencing disruption and perhaps is weighed down by conflict or gossip then a leader with a growth mindset will develop a plan for tackling the issue and stick to these chosen methods to allow an outcome to occur. Their goal will be to nip issues in the bud and keep their staff “above the line” allowing all to focus on goals and output and avoid the drama drama drama.

They celebrate success

Individuals with a fixed mindset are often threatened by other people’s success. However a leader with a growth mindset is eager to celebrate the successes of his/her staff and recognises that cutting down tall poppies is completely unproductive. They wish to encourage, support and celebrate the productive effort that has resulted in a successful outcome and to build confidence that hard work and dedication can produce such outcomes. A growth mindset leader does not feel threatened by successful staff members and can reflect on the fact that a staff member’s success is also their success and the organisation’s success.

They gain inspiration and are inspirational

A growth mindset leader, can look at the success of others and gain inspiration to better understand how to fire up their own personal motivation and initiatives. They value the efforts and ideas of others and can incorporate these into their own personal goals and organisational goals. This brings with it an appreciation for collaboration which in turn inspires others. Staff can also recognise that their leader is dedicated to their individual needs, recognises their value and genuinely wants to assist them to succeed. As a result they also inspire others to do the same.

They build stronger relationships

A growth mindset leader recognises that failure is not a reason to punish a staff member. FAIL - merely stands for -First Attempt In Learning. When a leader has the opportunity to refrain struggles as learning experiences, they become more patient and understanding and as a result tighter bonds tend to be formed with staff and a greater level of trust and respect is formed.

They value progress over perfection

Leaders often stress, attempting to ensure that everything is perfect. As a result they often waste a lot of time and effort perfecting things that don’t need to be perfected. However leaders with a growth mindset recognise that it is better for both them and their staff to achieve progress towards their shared goals rather than stopping every five seconds to ensure that every step of the way is perfect in its outcome. They recognise that progress is better to celebrate than perfection.

If you are interested in developing your growth mindset as a leader, Bakjac Consulting is running a five week online webinar series to develop a growth mindset and mental toughness.

This 5 week online Webinar Series will commence in late January 2018 and will begin with you completing the MTQ48 to gain an understanding of your current Mental Toughness. Then you will participate in a 5 week mental toughness development programme to develop your growth mindset and flex your mental toughness muscles. Want to know more? Contact Michelle on 0412047590 or via email, michelle@bakjacconsulting, or check out here on Bakjac Consulting’s website for more information.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.


Developing a Growth Mindset And Mental Toughness In Your Organisation.

Michelle Bakjac -  Director | Psychologist | Coach | Trainer

Michelle Bakjac - Director | Psychologist | Coach | Trainer

Thanks to The Australian Business Executive (ABE) for publishing my article “Developing A Growth Mindset and Mental Toughness In Your Organisation. See the full article below, or download the magazine here and check it out on page 50.

Worldwide, only 13% of employees are engaged at work. That’s a pretty shocking statistic. In Australia, we are slightly better. 24% of Australians are engaged in their work (we are 2nd world wide behind the USA), but 60% of staff are actively disengaged. That’s a big drain on productivity in the average workplace.

Research conducted by Great Place To Work shows that only 12% of CEOs globally believe they are driving the right culture in their organisation. So really, is it any surprise that only 13% of employees are engaged in the workplace?

Consider too that mental health costs Australian businesses 10 billion dollars per year in lost productivity. (4.7 billion in absenteeism and 6.1 billion in presenteeism).

As a business leader, we need to invest in recognising the benefits of developing mental toughness and a growth mindset in our organization, teams and the individuals who are responsible for the success of any business.

If individuals have a fixed mindset, they believe their basic qualities – their intelligence, their talents, their abilities- are just fixed traits. In other words, they are considered a part of you that cannot be changed. However, an individual with a growth mindset believes that even basic talents and abilities can be developed over time through experience and dedicated effort.   People with a growth mindset “go for it”. They are not plagued by anxiety about how smart they are or how they’ll look if they make a mistake. They challenge themselves to grow. Those with a growth mindset are also those who tend to have higher mental toughness. They focus on making things happen, they embrace challenges, they persist in the face of setbacks, they learn from criticism and welcome feedback and find lessons and inspiration from the success of others.

Are you currently able to look around at your team and recognise those who have higher levels of mental toughness and those who are more mentally sensitive? Do you have team members who always volunteer for new projects, manage their emotions and commit to dedicated action? Or do you have a team who struggle with change, let their emotions get the better of them and lose focus easily?

Mental Toughness is basically a mindset that a person adopts in everything they do and determines how they perform under stress and pressure irrespective of the prevailing circumstances. Mental Toughness is more than resilience alone. If Resilience is our ability to “survive”, then Mental Toughness is our ability to “thrive”.

Our current working environments are more challenging than ever. VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) is a leadership concept well known to many organisations and has almost become the “new normal” given the constant change that often surrounds many businesses.

So what are you looking for to identify if your team has high levels of mental toughness and a growth mindset?

Individuals within a team need to demonstrate Emotional Control. They need to feel they can shape what happens to them, be able to manage their own emotions as well as understand and recognise other people’s emotions and how to manage these. They are not difficult to provoke or annoy and do not get anxious or angry easily. They stay calm in a crisis and are able to keep a much broader perspective on things.

An individual with high levels of Mental Toughness also has Life Control. They believe they can make a difference, are comfortable to do several different things at once, are good at planning, prioritising and time management and are prepared to work hard to clear blockages from their path. They believe they can define what needs to be done and see the solution rather than the problem.

Mentally Tough individuals have Commitment. They like setting clearly defined goals and use goals to define what their success will look like. They are able to maintain focus and have a sense of purpose.

They see Challenges as opportunities rather than threats and are likely to provoke change and continuous improvement. They are happy to commit to projects, enjoy healthy competition, work hard and are not afraid of extra effort to achieve success.

Mentally Tough individuals have Confidence in Their Ability. They have little need for external validation, but rather an internal locus of control. They are happy to ask questions and seek advice and provide full and clear responses. They see feedback as a positive opportunity and see competence and excellence in others as a form of motivation. They also have Interpersonal Confidence. They will engage in discussion and can be more risk oriented. They are happy to ask for support and are not shy in coming forward. They enjoy working in a group of like-minded individuals and engage easily.

As business leaders, there is a significant opportunity to enhance work place engagement and build a workforce that are accountable, solution focused, growth focused and see challenges and change as opportunities. Implementing potential for the development of a growth mindset and mental toughness can lead to significant increases in productivity, staff retainment and engagement.  

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Wellbeing Strategist, Leadership and Wellbeing Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness Practitioner.  Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership potential and wellbeing.  You can find her at or