Today is day 2 of our studio’s annual practice challenge. Each Monday of the challenge, we’ll be posting a little bit of Monday Motivation covering some of the neuroscience of practice, skill building, and talent development.
This week’s motivation covers the concept of mindset and motivation.
Dr. Carol Dweck has spent her career researching mindset and motivation.
The summary of her findings over her career have separated mindset into two categories: growth mindset or fixed mindset.
People with a fixed mindset believe that all of their abilities are unchangeable and they are unable to improve. Because they believe effort does not make a difference, they often don’t try. These people tend to give up on tasks quickly, especially when they perceive the task to be too much of a challenge.
People with a growth mindset, however, believe in the power of “yet.” They believe in their ability to improve and eventually reach their goals, even if that goal feels out of reach to them in the present. People with a growth mindset are resilient and persevere to reach their goals, no matter what.
Dr. Dweck has found over the course of her research that when a growth mindset is carefully modeled and reinforced for young children, they make HUGE strides in what they can achieve.
In one study, Dr. Dweck discovered the role that specific feedback plays in fostering a growth mindset.
In the study, young children were given a low difficulty quiz. When they were graded, the feedback they were given was brief, but carried different messages. One group of children was told “you must be so smart.” The other group of children was told “you must have worked hard.”
The students were then given another quiz, this time much harder than the previous. This time, the children that were praised for being “smart” achieved less than the children who were praised for working hard. Dr. Dweck was so surprised by the result that she replicated the study several times. The result was the same each time: children who were praised for effort outpaced children who were praised for intellect.
The message is clear: ability is cultivated, not innate, and we can teach children to achieve by fostering the mindset that they can accomplish anything if they work hard.
My challenge to you this week during your practice time is to choose the feedback you offer your child carefully. Spend this week praising their effort rather than their ability and notice what changes it inspires in their motivation.
Watch Dr. Dweck’s talk on growth mindset below.