There are many models for helping people to develop. One of these is that Attitude plus Ability equals Achievement. This approach was described by one manager who said:
“I always make sure that people have the right attitude. They are then more likely to apply their ability to produce consistent achievements.”
This philosophy is supported by Carol Dweck’s work on Growth Mindsets and Fixed Mindsets. Her findings also have implications for the way we can encourage people to do their best.
People with a Growth Mindset believe they can develop their brain, abilities and talent through hard work, says Carol.
Such people embrace a love of learning and resilience. This creates a love for learning, a drive for growth and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishments.
People with a Fixed Mindset believe their abilities are fixed and cannot be developed.
Such people also believe that talent alone creates success, says Carol. They see effort as a sign of weakness rather than as a positive element of life needed to reach one's full potential.
You can discover more about her research at the web site dedicated to this aspect of her work.
Carol and her colleagues did many experiments to test the effects of praising children in different ways after the children had, for example, completed a puzzle.
One group of children were praised for their attitude and application. They were told things like:
“That’s a really good score. You must have tried really hard.”
Another group of children were praised for just for their abilities. They were told things like:
“That’s a really good score. You must be smart at this.”
Researchers found that the first group were more likely to develop a Growth Mindset. The second were more likely to develop a Fixed Mindset.
The Art of Encouragement
“Looking back at your own life, I can remember the times that people praised my attitude,” said one person.
“This was uplifting because they focused on something that I felt I could control. At the time I felt I could do more about shaping my attitude, whereas I felt my abilities were more fixed.
“After awhile, however, I realised the attitude I took could influence the way I applied my abilities to achieve things in life.”
Carol Dweck goes further. She believes that having a good attitude increases the likelihood of developing a Growth Mindset. It can increase our brain power, talent and ability to deliver.
Certainly ability is vital, but Carol’s findings have implications for the way we encourage people. Encouragement therefore calls for focusing on the characteristics people demonstrate to achieve their goals, rather than simply saying they are clever. It calls for focusing on:
* The attitude they adopt as well as their ability.
* The graft – the hard work – they put in as well as their gifts.
* The toughness they show as well as their talent.
How to make this happen? Great encouragers move from the concept to the concrete. If they are focusing on how a person demonstrated toughness, for example, they will describe the specific things the person did to demonstrate that quality.
A football manager may say to a player, for instance:
“The way you picked yourself up after that challenge and then won the ball back – rather than complain to the referee – was excellent.
“I believe that, if you keep demonstrating that toughness, you can make the most of your talents – both in football and in life.”
Good encouragers watch for when a person comes alive and applies themselves to achieve success. They may then take the following steps when giving encouragement. Done properly, this can give people a gift for life.
There are many approaches to helping people to develop. One approach is to bear in mind that attitude plus ability can equal achievement.
* Carol Dweck.
Here is the link to mindsetonline.com. This provides an introduction to the philosophy and also practical tools that people can use to develop a Growth Mindset.
Here is the link to Carol’s official biography at Stanford University.
This site provides many practical tools that enable school and college students to develop a Growth Mindset.