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Sherria Hoskins, Psychology
[email protected]
• Why focus on mistakes?
• Implicit theories of intelligence (Mindsets)
• Exploring your mindset.
• Exploring the evidence of impact.
• Tips for developing growth mindsets.
• Growth cultures.
Why focus on mistakes?
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of
preparation, hard work and learning from failure”
Colin Powell (US Secretary of State 2001-2005)
When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I
did were failures. So I did ten times more work”
George Bernard Shaw (Playwright)
Henry Ford - early businesses failed and left him broke 5
times before founded the Ford Motor Company.
Albert Einstein - did not speak until he four and did not read until
was seven, teachers and parents thought he was mentally handicapped.
Expelled from school and failed to get a place at the Zurich
Polytechnic School.
It’s all about Failure
Benjamin Barber, sociologist:
“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 non
Implicit Theories of
Professor Carol Dweck
• American psychologist
• Research interests in motivation, achievement & intelligence
• Motivated by personal experiences:
Went to school in NY
Pupils seated according to IQ
What if low IQ?
What if high IQ?
Led her to think ...
What are Mindsets?
Growth Mindset
• Belief that abilities are malleable and can develop.
• Success and failure are attributed to effort and
persistence, learning from mistakes and challenges.
Fixed Mindset
• Belief that abilities are something you are born with.
• Can’t change it much.
• Failures attributed to self or others.
Fixed Mindset
Growth Mindset
Ability fixed & can’t change much
Ability can be increased through
Focus on performance
Focus on learning
Failure and/or effort perceived as being Not threatened by hard work or failure
sign of low ability
Choose activities to maximise
performance (easy ones to feel clever)
Seek new challenges for a sense of
Don’t recover well from setbacks
Mistakes are perceived as a good thing
as they help the learning processes
Repair self-esteem:
look at work of people who do worse
deny value of work
do only what we already do well
Decrease efforts (passive or active),
consider cheating (self-protection)
Helplessness orientation
View effort and persistence as a
necessary part of success
Mastery orientation
Exploring your mindset
Pick an area of ability.
What is your Mindset?
Entity questions
1. You have a certain amount of ability ? and you cannot do
much to change it.
2. Difficulties and challenges prevent you from developing
your ability ?
4. If you fail in a task, you question your ability ?
7. Good performance in a task is a way of showing others
that you are able ?
8. When you exert a lot of effort, you show that you are not
able ?.
12. Your abilities are determined by how able ? you are.
14. You are born with a fixed amount of ability in ?
Incremental questions
3. The effort you exert improves your ability ?.
5. Criticism from others can help develop your ability ?.
6. You can develop your ability ? if you really try.
9. When you learn new things, your basic ability ?
10. If you fail in a task, you still trust your ability ?.
11. Performing a task successfully can help develop your
ability ?.
13. Good preparation before performing a task is a way
to develop your ability ?.
Have you ever . . . ?
• Said something to look clever.
• Not asked a question in case you looked ‘stupid’.
• Given up on a colleague because ‘they will never be
good at . . .’
• Given up in the face of challenge.
• Passive or active avoidance of a tough task . . .
• Not tried something challenging because you feel
sure to fail.
• Selected an easy task to look good.
• Hidden the fact you found something really
High Ability
Low Ability
Exploring the evidence
Evidence from Neuroscience
Neurones in the brain transmit
information through connections
(synapses). The more we keep our
brains active through learning new
information, the more connections
the brain makes.
UCL - London taxi drivers.
Brain scans = larger hippocampus than others
Grew as they spent more time in the job.
Suggests brain adapts to help them learn ‘The
Knowledge’ and store mental maps.
Peter Heslin & colleagues
• Leaders with growth mindset notice improvement in
employees, fixed mindset leaders do not.
• Leaders taught growth mindset, start to be sensitive
to improvement.
• Employees evaluated growth-mindset managers as
providing better coaching for development.
Workshop Intervention
• Scientific article and video on how the brain
grows with learning.
• Exercises to instill a growth mindset.
Managers showed greater:
• Openness to employee change
• Willingness and higher quality mentoring
• Openness to critical feedback
Negotiations (Kray & Haselhun)
Showed superior negotiation strategies.
Were undaunted by setbacks.
Were better at finding common ground.
Consistently outperformed those with a
fixed mindset.
Tips for developing
growth mindsets.
Set high expectations
Lowering expectations does not raise self-esteem.
• High expectations = high level outcomes (Pygmalion study:
Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1968).
• Focus on effort, experimentation and persistence not just
• Focus on the emotions around tasks.
• Goals emphasise growth; development of skill or knowledge.
e.g. Don’t always give easy tasks to ‘poor performers’, include
elements that will be challenging.
Celebrating Mistakes
• Promote mistakes as part of everyone’s learning
Take fear out of mistakes (debilitates growth).
Create space to make mistakes.
Create space to learn from mistakes (discussion
time, learning - human, system).
Don’t blame others for failure and mistakes.
When you have good examples of attainment –
remove luck and talent myth.
Make specific plans for growth and
• Identify area of weakness
• Establish clear and specific plan for improvement:
Ineffective: “work harder”
Better: “before each meeting plan how you are going to
communicate in a way that doesn’t offend, talk it through with
another colleague”
• Once strategy agreed - review - update with the next
step (mountain).
“You have a gift for chairing
“You are really great at
“Don’t worry, I just don’t think this is
one of your areas of strength, but
you have others”
“why not focus on your talents”
Avoid person/ability focused
feedback, it causes...
…Temporary high self-esteem if performed well but
longer term:
When challenged or fail re-evaluate ability
Creates low self-esteem
Avoidance of task in future
Drop in attainment over time
Growth feedback
Give ‘process praise’
• Effort.
• Strategy.
• Persistence.
Use ‘task praise’
• What is better/worse than the last attempt.
• What is/not good, realistic, neat, correct etc. about
the product.
Growth focused praise
“You’ve spent a lot of time perfecting this, it looks
“You were really convincing, you prepared well”.
“Your minute writing gets better every time I see it”
“You could have been clearer in the way you expressed
that, perhaps a practice session would help”
“I’m not sure that approach is as effective as some
others might be, have you tried any others”
Mueller & Dweck (1998)
Number of Problems solved
Trial 1
Trial 3
Carol Dweck talking about praise
Effort Praise
Control Praise
Intelligence Praise
Model the behaviour you want
“I’m no good at doing budgets.”
“Spelling was never my thing, my talent was in maths.”
• Don’t describe yourself with fixed language.
• Explain how you overcame challenges and how
you continue to learn.
• Slip-ups. Yet...
Growth cultures.
At the organisational level, growth mindset:
• Portray skills/abilities as acquirable.
• Value risk taking, passion, effort, learning (and teamwork).
• Permits failure if learning is taking place.
• Leader
– mentors vs. judges
– facilitator, not one with ‘right answers’.
– reveals process/thinking.
– shows their mistakes and are un-defensive.
Silicon Valley
More info
• Carol Dweck’s webpage/sources
Self-theories: their role in motivation, personality, and development Dweck, 2000
Mindset: the new psychology of success Dweck, 2008
Motivation and self-regulation across the life span Dweck et al, 1998
• Available electronically
How Executive Coaching Can Fuel Professional—and Personal—Growth
Should Coaches Believe in Innate Ability? The Importance of Leadership Mindset[1].pdf
Practical Applications of Goal Setting Theory to Performance Management
An exploratory study on entrepreneurial mindset

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