It is en vogue for the phrase growth mindset to be promoted frequently in school, work, leadership, or personal development settings like coaching. What does it mean and why might it be important?

Defining Growth Mindset

As defined by Romero (2015), it is “the belief that intelligence can be developed” (para. 1). More than a buzzword, a growth mindset is a positive, can-do frame of reference. One who operates with this perspective does not get derailed from missteps, setbacks, or unexpected changes. An individual with a growth mindset might say (or think) something like, “I’m not sure exactly how to do this, but I can find out how.”

Growth Mindset Significance for Children, Parents, & Families

The benefits of adopting a growth mindset include reducing barriers to success. Concerns about the national student academic ability (Saavedra et al., 2021) suggest the promotion of growth mindsets as a timely endeavor. Ng (2018) explores the long-term benefits and effects of this ability to “adapt[ and] self-regulate[]” by individuals possessing a growth mindset (para. 1). She claims this is the way of the future. Due to changes in the workforce, how information is disseminated, and the structures for learning, education, and schooling, It is vital for today’s population to be willing to “discover, produce, and evaluate knowledge” through the application of problem-solving and inquiry (Ng, 2018, para. 1).

How to Develop a Growth Mindset

Talk It Out

The first suggestion to building a growth mindset includes getting comfortable talking to yourself. Here is the truth. We all talk to ourselves! Usually, it is silent and often, our thoughts become automatic. This means they are not actively selected after a period of thinking in the same manner. So, in order to develop a growth mindset, I encourage clients to develop a practice of talking oneself through a situation. An example of this may sound like the following. “Okay, that is (tricky, interesting, a big question). I’m going to think about this. Hmmm. Well, I know this about (topic). Now I want to know…”

Thanks to Pixaby and aytuguluturk for this image.

Take Time

The next step to developing a growth mindset seamlessly fits with the first suggestion. Developing patience (with oneself and ultimately with others) takes practice. Our society is often fast-paced and instantaneous. How quickly can we brew a cup of coffee? How long does it take to drive through a restaurant and pick up a meal? When can we turn on our favorite show? Frequently, the answer is right now.

A growth mindset involves giving oneself space and time to problem-solve and accepting that the answer does not need to be derived instantly. This pressure generally will prohibit us from providing quality answers or decisions.

Perfectly Imperfect

The third step to developing a growth mindset is accepting imperfection, and embracing mistakes as part of learning and growing. Solutions and answers need to be developed. Remember Mrs. Frizzle? She always said, “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!” There is a reason this lady was and is considered a phenomenal teacher.

Image by CartoonGoodies

In the counseling setting, I talk about getting through new situations by reviewing the way a young child learns to walk. It’s a rough process. There can be fear on the part of parents, some tears, and occasionally, a bit of blood. This is how it’s done. Learning is accomplished through the practice of mistakes. Learning is a process. There are incremental steps and one has to be comfortable with not knowing, getting things “wrong” and figuring it out with some mistakes and messes along the way!

A Good Counselor Can Help You Develop A Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is instrumental to a positive and healthy life for individuals of all ages! With the help of a good counselor, you can develop one too. Reach out to the counselors at Joyful Journeys Counseling if you would benefit from support in growing through a life transition. Our specializations include trauma recovery, life purpose, conflict and reconciliation, communication skills training, and anxiety treatment.


Ng, B. (2018). The Neuroscience of Growth Mindset and Intrinsic Motivation. Brain sciences8(2), 20.

Romero, C. (2015). What we know about growth mindset from scientific research. Mindset Scholars Network.

Saavedra, A., Polikoff, M., Silver, D., & Rapaport, A. (2021, March 23). Almost everyone is concerned about K-12 students’ academic progress. Brookings.

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