A growth mindset can be the difference between giving up and reaching success for many entrepreneurs. In this article, we’re going to answer the question ‘What is a growth mindset?’ as well as sharing five of our best tips for upgrading a limiting fixed mindset to a limitless growth mindset.
If you’re a fan of self-improvement literature, you might be familiar with the term ‘growth mindset’. Renowned psychologist Dr Carol Dweck introduced the concept in her 2006 book The New Psychology of Success. Dweck and her colleagues found that people’s outlook can be classed as a ‘fixed’ (believing you can’t change your abilities or potential for success) or ‘growth’ mindset (you have endless potential for success if you’re willing to learn, grow and work for it).
A growth mindset is now touted by many in the business world as the key to success, allowing you to endure and learn from the mistakes you’ll make as an entrepreneur. But unless you naturally have a growth mindset, it can be tricky and downright scary to embrace failure and uncomfortable changes that will help you grow as a franchisee or businessperson. We’ve summarised five of our best tips to show you how to nurture a growth mindset, no matter what’s going on inside your head.
1. Get comfortable with failure
The biggest difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset is how you view failure. People with a fixed outlook dread failure. To them, it is the ultimate embarrassment and a sign they’re not as intelligent as they believe. It can even send an individual into a spiralling identity crisis as their failure undermines the image of capability they’ve always sought to project.
Those with a growth mindset embrace the possibility of failure. The adage ‘it’s better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all’ comes to mind here. Of course, nobody likes doing things wrong. However, the difference is that a growth mindset prevents you from wallowing in misery after a failure. Instead, you should pick yourself up and move on from the unsuccessful endeavour without giving up on your goal.
You might fail over and over again on your franchising or business ownership journey. That’s ok. As long as you try to learn from mistakes and keep striving towards your goals, you will succeed. And if things don’t work out, at least you can walk away with pride knowing you didn’t give up at the first hurdle.
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2. Ask what you can learn rather than what you did wrong
Small adjustments in your language can make a huge difference. If you’re always trying to work out what you did ‘wrong’ in a situation, you’re already telling yourself you’ve done something negative. Asking yourself ‘what can I learn?’ however, apportions no blame. Instead, it causes you to look at how you can improve and grow to overcome an obstacle, rather than chastising yourself for being human and making an error.
Many of our mistakes, particularly as franchisees and business owners, come from a lack of experience and the fact that we’re learning as we go. The beauty of franchising in particular is that you don’t need to have a business degree or years of corporate experience to get started. All you need is the desire to build a business for yourself. But as you step into uncharted territory career-wise, it’s natural you won’t get everything right. Use every mistake as a learning experience rather than something that reaffirms your self-doubt and self-limiting mindset.
3. Seek out learning opportunities
One of the easiest parts of a growth mindset to master is seeking out ways to learn. You don’t have to sign up for expensive courses or tackle heavy academic reading. Learning opportunities come in all shapes and sizes.
You could read your favourite business blog every morning or try and read a chapter of a book before you go to bed. If you have a bit more time, you could sign up for a free workshop with your franchisor or with a respected body like the bfa. Even chatting with fellow franchisees or entrepreneurs counts as learning, as you might gain insight into a different way of doing business that could work for you.
People with a growth mindset recognise they don’t know it all and know that taking every opportunity to learn more will only help them improve. A fixed mindset can make people fearful of volunteering themselves for more education, as they wrongly see it as a sign of weakness or inferiority. Grab every chance you find to learn something new – it could give you the edge over competitors who already think they know it all.
4. Reward yourself only for real progress
You don’t have to wait until you reach your ultimate business goal to reward yourself for the work you’ve put in. After all, simply taking the leap and starting a franchise or business shows you’ve taken a risk and are challenging your potential. However, danger lies in rewarding or praising yourself falsely. If you know you’re holding back because of a fear of failure or aren’t trying to learn from your mistakes, you won’t reap the benefits of a growth mindset.
In an interview with The Atlantic, Dweck explained how the so-called ‘false growth’ mindset can limit children’s potential in schools.
“Another misunderstanding [of growth mindset] … is the oversimplification of the growth mindset into just [being about] effort. Teachers were just praising effort that was not effective, saying “Wow, you tried really hard!” But students know that if they didn’t make progress and you’re praising them, it’s a consolation prize. They also know you think they can’t do any better.”
Though Dweck was talking about growth mindset in schools, her message applies in any context. If you praise yourself for just trying hard and take no other steps to improve your business, you haven’t really tapped into the growth mindset. You’re still limiting yourself, as empty praise supports the idea that you’re not capable of developing further and eventually succeeding. Don’t give yourself a consolation prize if the real trophy is waiting for you on the horizon.
5. Stop comparing yourself
One area where even the most growth-focused people can stumble is comparison. Even when our businesses are thriving and we’re looking forward to a future full of potential, many of us still feel insecure deep down. One scroll through LinkedIn or Facebook and you’re bombarded with a highlight reel of other people’s successes. Suddenly, the business you’ve built looks modest, to say the least.
Comparison is one of the least helpful things you can do and probably the most damaging attribute of a fixed mindset. All it does is feed your insecurities and make you feel even worse. Instead, try and reframe how you feel when you read others’ success stories. Can you learn something from them? Did they overcome struggles similar to yours to achieve their goals? Use other people to inspire you and show you that anything is possible, rather than doubting you can match their achievements.
It’s also vital to remember that we all present the best parts of our lives online and when networking in person. You won’t see the person bragging about their company’s £1 million turnovers also posting about how little time they spend with their family, or how stressed they often feel. Comparison adds nothing to your life and only robs you of energy that you could be devoting to your continued self-improvement. If you’re struggling, check out our 5 tips for boosting your self-confidence as a business owner.
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Open your mind
Our mindsets exist on a sliding scale. None of us foster a 100% growth mindset and even the most pessimistic people don’t believe every aspect of their mentality is 100% fixed. So, if you’re struggling to embrace the growth mindset all the time, don’t beat yourself up. As long as you’re trying to reduce how much you compare yourself to others, take a few risks, and keep on striving to become a better business, you’ll get there in time. Finally, ready to take the leap and become a franchisee? We have hundreds of exciting opportunities in our UK franchise directory for every kind of entrepreneur.
Sophie Cole, Point Franchise ©