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The way you think about mistakes makes all the difference

Updated: Oct 14, 2019

Research suggests that the we think about challenges directly impacts our ability to learn and grow.



Over the last few years, you can’t have escaped hearing the words “growth mindset”. It may be to do with your kids’ schooling, a word bandied about in a team meeting or something you’ve read about on the bus.

If you are someone who understands that at any age and at any time you can grow and learn, then you are more likely to adapt, achieve and feel better about yourself.”

“Growth mindset” and “fixed mindset” were terms initially described by Carol Dweck to describe two different ways of thinking about a task. Instead of viewing your abilities as fixed and therefore unchangeable (a fixed mindset), Dweck reported that if you are someone who understands that at any age and at any time you can grow and learn, then you are more likely to adapt, achieve and feel better about yourself.


Self-fulfilling prophecies

We often see our mistakes as a sign of failure or incompetence. How often have you said “I can’t do that because I’m useless at maths / running / being creative / organising people”? If you go along with the idea "I can't do it", where does it take you?


If we can see our mistakes as a natural part of the learning process, and that they are in fact opportunities to grow and develop the outcome can be very different. This is the central theme of having a "growth mindset". If you can train yourself to use a growth mindset, you will instead get into the pattern of thinking something like, “Well, it’s not what I am best at, but I can certainly give it a try and will learn a lot along the way”; or "I can't do it yet". When we start thinking in this way, where will that take us? What will happen to our skill set?


“...be intrigued by mistakes...”

Next time your boss gives you a challenge, or you sit at your computer dreaming of goals you think are way outside your abilities, remind yourself about growth mindsets and all of the reasons why you can do something - and how giving it a go is the route to developing your skills.


“Love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning” – Carol Dweck".

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© 2019 Propel Psychological Services

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