In order to promote Growth Mindset, parents, teachers, and mentors were advised to encourage effort instead of achievement. The part that often gets lost is that the effort that is encouraged should be the effort that includes two important points; exploration of multiple approaches and that learning takes place regardless of achievement. In order for one to be in a Growth Mindset regarding learning, the brain must be allowed to stretch and grow, and ideas change if necessary. Otherwise praise for effort without learning and growth, IS simply empty praise.
Additionally, it is important for mentors to recognize that we are all a mixture of Growth and Fixed Mindsets. Has anyone ever heard their mentee say something like “I can’t do math”, and responded with something along the lines of “Yeah I can’t do math either”? In order to support our mentees best we must be aware of our own mindsets in any given situation. Perhaps a response more in line with “Let’s talk about what you find challenging” will provide the support your mentee needs to explore strategies towards success.
In an article from October 2015, Carol Dweck, the first researcher to publish findings around the idea of Growth Mindset, reminds us how easily the ideas she presented can be misinterpreted. While the article may be aimed more at teachers or parents than anyone else, the message can easily be adapted to mentoring. To read the complete article and review some basic, positive ways of encouraging learning, click here.