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3 Strategies For Developing A Growth Mindset

Written by: Catherine Elizabeth Wood, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Our perception of adversity impacts the way we respond to it. Your thoughts drive your responses. Developing a growth mindset starts with noticing what you think about adversity.

Do you see difficult situations as a threat or a challenge for example? These types of situations automatically trigger your brain into the stress response, the fight-or-flight mode. The brain triggers the stress response when it senses a threat or perceives a threat such as a difficult situation.

You can choose what you would like to experience during adversity by challenging your perception of it. Instead of your brain automatically sensing the situation as a threat or perceiving the situation as a threat, you can learn to avoid triggering the stress response and activate the prefrontal cortex in the brain. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for executive functioning which activates clearer thinking in the moment to see adversity as a challenge.

Your thoughts drive what you tell yourself in the moment during adversity. Do you say, “I can’t do this”, or do you say, “I can do this.”

A fixed mindset is driven by the automatic stress response of your brain sensing a threat or perceiving a threat. If you have a fixed mindset, you easily become ‘stuck’ in a situation because your negative perception is driving an unhelpful response.

A growth mindset is driven by your chosen response of seeing adversity as a challenge. If you have a growth mindset, you can consider your choices in how you respond in the moment, by having the ability to think clearly. This enables you to overcome setbacks more easily.

The brain works like a muscle. If you practice tapping into your ability to see adversity as a challenge, the easier this will become as your automatic response. The brain can change due to neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the process of the brain restructuring itself with repeated practice.

Neuroplasticity gives you the ability to drive helpful thoughts automatically and enables you to learn various practical skills such as sports and learning musical instruments.

There are 3 strategies you can use to begin to develop a growth mindset:

Write down your thoughts

  • Notice what you are thinking about difficult situations and write this down. What are your thoughts about the situation? Are these thoughts helpful or unhelpful?

  • What is your usual response to these types of situations? Does this response help you or hinder you?

  • What can you say to yourself to drive a positive and constructive response?

Challenge your perception

Instead of thinking about what you can’t do, you can focus on what you can do when facing adversity.

  • What are the choices you can make to help you to feel comfortable, and safe, and give you some certainty and hope, for example?

  • What support from others do you need?

  • How can you draw on your strengths at this time?

  • What are some situations you have already been through where you demonstrated your ability to overcome setbacks?

Embracing the power of “yet”

  • Using the acknowledgment of being on the journey of learning by saying to yourself, “I haven’t finished developing the skills I would like to yet however I am proud of the progress I have made in my learning journey so far.”

  • Practice rewarding yourself for effort, strategy, and progress rather than the end achievement.

  • Acknowledge the setbacks you have overcome and reflect on what you have learnt from these.

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Catherine Elizabeth Wood, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Catherine Wood, is a leader in mental resilience, science-based coaching through neuroscience, and creating new habits for behavior change. After an acute brain injury as an adult left her having irrational thoughts and self-doubt, Catherine developed an interest in neuroplasticity to understand how she could challenge her self-beliefs, promote helpful thoughts and create new habits for behavior change. Catherine has since dedicated her life to helping people to establish their self-belief in who they are as their best self to drive helpful thoughts and create new habits for behavior change in the workplace and in their personal life.

Catherine is the Founder of Life Renewal, the online coaching business combining leadership coaching and team coaching with evidence-based techniques in neuroscience. Catherine helps leaders drive employee engagement by modeling leadership behavior across 7 key leadership skills. Catherine has helped clients through her own coaching programs, workshops, and digital courses including "Mastering Emotional Competence in Leadership." Catherine has been a guest writer for Thrive Global which included an article on "Seeking Opportunities While Navigating Uncertainty", and she hosted a resilience series including "The Neuroscience of Resilience".

Catherine's mission: Science-based coaching for collaborative leadership behavior.



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