How can a growth mindset benefit your career?

by Hudson

Carol Dweck of Stanford University identified two mindsets people can have about their talents and abilities – growth mindsets or fixed mindsets.

People with a growth mindset believe talents and abilities are things they can grow and develop. They believe they have potential and can grow talent through effort, practice, and knowledge acquisition. Conversely, individuals with a fixed mindset believe their talents and abilities are stagnant. They believe they have a fixed amount of talent which can’t be changed.

Developing growth mindsets in relation to our careers is critical to thrive in today’s ever changing business environment. In the context of one’s career, those with a growth mindset are likely to see changes in their work, work environment and career as an opportunity for growth even if it’s stressful or challenging.

On the other hand, those with a fixed mindset are likely to believe that they can’t develop or grow their skills, and, as such, are likely to perceive changes to one’s role, work environment, and career more negatively.

Having a growth career mindset will keep you open to opportunities, help you continue to develop and expand your current capabilities, and ultimately, enable you to thrive in today’s ever changing business environment.

Benefits of having a growth career mindset

  • You view obstacles and challenges in work tasks and responsibilities and/or the work environment as an opportunity for learning and career development. For example, opportunity to learn a new skills, become more adaptable, develop your ability to operate in other job roles, etc.
  • You believe putting effort into developing yourself will help you to be successful in the long-term (i.e. learning something new may take time and practice – but this process will help you in other roles in the future).
  • You understand that feedback provides you with valuable insights and targeted areas for ongoing learning and development (i.e. feedback can inform a learning/development plan by providing you with insights about yourself, including your strengths and development areas).
  • You also understand that people who are doing what you’d love to be doing are not competitors but rather those best placed to help you achieve your goals – as such, you see others who are successful in their careers as valuable teachers, mentors, advisors who can support your own success (e.g. someone’s promotion provides an opportunity to for you to learn how to progress).

4 practical ways you can build a growth career mindset

  1. Leveraging your self-insight means knowing yourself and the value you bring. It requires that you gain an understanding of your values, interests, strengths, personality and ambitions, in order to make an informed career decision about what you want for your future.
  2. The next steps is exploring your options. Your aspirations need to be considered in the context of the opportunities available to you. This goes for any constraints that you may need to factor in to your decision making about your career, or obstacles you need to overcome if you want to pursue a certain direction. These constraints may be skills or education based, organisational or could even be geographical.
  3. Step 3 involves setting both long-term and short-term goals – your short term career goals will relate to your role development, while your long term goals will be linked to the development actions you’ll need to take to drive your longer term career aspirations. Setting your future goals will ultimately determine the steps you need to take to achieve them and assist you in staying motivated.
  4. Finally, it’s about taking action and implementing your plan to actually progress towards your career goals. This means doing things or getting things to happen – networking, gaining experience and searching for opportunities and roles that will bring you closer to achieving your aspirations and creating your future.

Importantly, the above 4 steps should be a continual cycle, an ongoing process throughout your career journey. It’s important to regularly review your understanding of yourself, your influences and the world of work, as these change throughout your life and, in turn, impact on your career planning. Self-reflection is a valuable way of checking that you are on track with your career planning and ask yourself what is working for you or what isn’t working so well. Reviewing your career plan with your manager or a mentor can help guide your reflection and help you to learn about new opportunities or changes that may impact you. Establishing regular career conversations to review your goals can also remind you of how far you’ve come on your career journey, and it can signal when changes needs to be made.