I've been reading Mindset by Carol Dweck and studying more about her and her work over the past few months. To summarize her work, Prof. Dweck suggests that most people have either a fixed or growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset hold beliefs that talent and innate ability direct one's path in life, while those with a growth mindset work hard and persevere to overcome challenges to set their own course. Much of Prof. Dweck's work explores how individuals who hold the growth mindset challenge themselves, work hard, and put forth whatever effort it takes to succeed at any particular endeavor.
In honor of Father's Week, I'm calling for dads to model and emphasize these beliefs to instill the growth mindset in their children. Why? Well, Dweck and her colleagues are building a strong base of evidence for the importance of instilling the growth mindset in our children. The beauty of Dweck's conception of the psychology of success lies in one's ability to train his or her mindset for growth. Who better to help our children do this than their dads?
As an elementary school principal, most dads who I speak with want to help their children succeed academically, but they often struggle with how to go about this. I think a great place to start is by cultivating the growth mindset. Explain to your children that hard work and effort will provide a lifetime of opportunities. Model these behaviors for your children to emulate. Let your children know that you are proud of how hard they work and emphasize that successes are more likely to come from sustained efforts than from innate ability.
Dweck's work suggests that cultivating the growth mindset is the key to developing the beliefs that one can become successful with sustained hard work and effort. As dads, let's be sure we instill these beliefs in all of our children.