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Mindsets: Developing Talent Through a Growth Mindset. Center for Confidence Growing Success September 18, 2008. “I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures… I divide the world into the learners and nonlearners.”. - Benjamin Barber. Mindsets.

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mindsets developing talent through a growth mindset

Mindsets:Developing Talent Through a Growth Mindset

Center for Confidence

Growing Success

September 18, 2008

benjamin barber

“I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures… I divide the world into the learners and nonlearners.”

- Benjamin Barber

  • Fixed Mindset: Intelligence is a fixed trait

…Myth of the “natural”

  • Growth Mindset: Intelligence is a malleable quality; a potential that can be developed

…Talent is a starting point

  • Which mindset is correct?
  • Which mindset is most popular?
  • Do people hold the same mindsets across domains?
  • Are the mindsets related to people’s ability?
  • Are the mindsets themselves fixed or can they be changed?
what do mindsets do8
What Do Mindsets Do?


Learning is Most Important:

“It’s much more important for me to learn things in my classes than it is to get the best grades.”

Looking Smart is Most Important:

“The main thing I want when I do my school work is to show how good I am at it.”

paying attention to learning
Paying Attention to Learning

Ability-Relevant Feedback


“Who was the Union general

at the battle of Gettysburg?”



response and confidence






1.5 s

1.5 s

2 s

1 s

Learning-Relevant Feedback

what mindsets do
What Mindsets Do

Effort Beliefs

Effort is positive:

“The harder you work at something, the better you’ll be at it.”

Effort is negative:

“To tell the truth, when I work hard at my school work it makes me feel like I’m not very smart.”

what mindsets do16
What Mindsets Do



“I would work harder in this class from now on.”

“I would spend more time studying for the tests.”


“I would spend less time on this subject from now on.”

“I would try not to take this subject ever again.”

“I would try to cheat on the next test.”

math achievement
Math Achievement



fixed mindset no good way to recover from failure
Fixed MindsetNo Good Way to Recover from Failure
  • Choose to repair self-esteem by looking at work of people who had done worse
  • Choose to repair self-esteem by re-enacting strengths vs. repairing weaknesses
negotiations kray haselhun
Negotiations(Kray & Haselhun)

Negotiators with a growth mindset:

Showed superior negotiation strategies

Were undaunted by setbacks

Were better at finding common ground

Consistently outperformed those with a fixed mindset

how are mindsets communicated22
How Are Mindsets Communicated?

Intelligence Praise: “Wow, that’s a really good score. You must be smart at this.”

Effort (Process) Praise: “Wow, that’s a really good score. You must have tried really hard.”

effects of intelligence vs effort praise
Effects of Intelligence vs. Effort Praise
  • Mindset: Fixed vs. Growth
  • Goals: Looking smart vs. Learning

After Difficult Trial:

  • Confidence: Low vs. High
  • Motivation: Low vs. High
  • Performance: Decreased vs. Increased
number of problems solved on trial 1 before failure and trial 3 after failure
Number of problems solved on Trial 1 (before failure) and Trial 3 (after failure).

Number of Problems Solved

Replicated several times
  • Reduced gender and race gaps in achievement


5 Computer Modules

Teachers’ Guide

have you changed your mind about anything
Have you changed your mind about anything?
  • My favorite thing from Brainology is the neurons part where when u learn something there are connections and they keep growing. I always picture them when I’m in school (khadija)
  • Yes … I imagine neurons making connections in my brain and I feel like I am learning something. (biggie)




(Peter Heslin & colleagues)

before workshop
Before Workshop
  • Fixed mindset managers don’t notice improvement--first impressions last
  • Fixed mindset managers don’t mentor their employees as much--people can’t change
  • Fixed mindset managers can’t take criticism
mindset workshop for managers
Mindset Workshop for Managers
  • Scientific article and video on how the brain grows with learning throughout life
  • Exercises to instill a growth mindset

After receiving a growth mindset workshop, managers showed greater:

  • Openness to employee change
  • Willingness to mentor and higher quality of mentoring
  • Openness to critical feedback
conclusion the belief in growth allows individuals to
ConclusionThe belief in growth allows individuals to:
  • Embrace learning
  • Welcome challenges, mistakes, and feedback
  • Understand the role of effort in creating talent
at the organizational level a growth mindset organization
At the organizational level, a growth mindset organization:
  • Portrays skills as acquirable
  • Values passion, effort, improvement (and teamwork), not just natural talent
  • Presents leaders as mentors vs. judges
mindset workshop
Mindset Workshop
  • What is an area in which you once had low ability, but now perform quite well? How were you able to make this change?
  • Who is someone in your life who dramatically improved their performance? What did they do that enabled them to improve?
As a manager, what are at least 3 reasons why it’s important to believe that people can develop their abilities?

(Include implications for both yourself and the employees you manage.)

mindset workshop53
Mindset Workshop

Sometimes it’s hard to believe certain people can develop their abilities beyond a certain point.

  • What are 3 instances in which you observed someone learn to do something that you thought this person could never do?

Why do you think this occurred?

What could have been the implication of your belief that they couldn’t do it?

growth leaders finding new streams of revenue
Growth LeadersFinding New Streams of Revenue
  • Identified 50 mid-level mgrs. who achieved breakout results
  • Each had very varied early career experiences
  • Deep belief in learning and change

What a company doesn't know is far more important than what it does know