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Growth mindset: The impact of learning

May 2, 2019

After an incredible month of growth for Piper & Gold, I want to wrap up this month’s theme with some insights on having a growth mindset. P&G had a remarkable outcome at this year’s PACE Awards, bringing home a substantial amount of hardware from the awards ceremony and we are pretty dang proud. Equally as impressive is the growth we experienced from not only the campaigns and tactics that won pinnacle awards, but also the work that didn’t even make it to the stage.  

I first encountered the concept of a “growth mindset” in an intro to psychology class during my undergrad at Coe College. Shout out to liberal arts education where my growth mindset really started to flourish.  

Growth mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck. You might have seen her TED Talk featuring her insight on the power of believing you can improve. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend you take a peek

Much of Dweck’s research focuses on the difference between “growth” and “fixed” mindsets. When you approach life with a growth mindset, you understand abilities can be developed. This can be applied to just about any industry and life situation. People with a growth mindset embrace challenges and view difficult situations as an opportunity to grow. The effort you put into a task will lead to learning, and that is seen as a win no matter the outcome of the situation. People with a growth mindset might say things like, “I can figure this out. What do I need to do to get my skills at the right level?” 

On the flip side, people who approach a situation with a fixed mindset typically avoid challenges and resistance. They tend to have a one-dimensional view of things, and it’s difficult for them to understand other points of view. People with a fixed mindset will make excuses to rationalize failure. They might say things like, “I would have done better if I had more time to prepare.” 

The growth mindset is something educators all over the world have started to adopt. At Piper & Gold, we work with K-12 schools, higher education and education associations. A growth mindset is not a foreign concept to our team, and we are honored to work in industries that allow us to push the limits, innovate and grow every day!  

When you are faced with a difficult task or challenging project, do you think about how you can learn from it or do you avoid it because it might require more effort? It’s pretty clear just about everyone would rather work with professionals who have a growth mindset, but that’s easier said than done. Cultivating a growth mindset mentality can lead to innovation, problem solving and just a more enjoyable environment.  

In January, I had the honor of joining the Central Michigan Public Relations Society of America (CMPRSA) board as the PRSSA Professional Adviser. I connect with students from Michigan State University and help guide them on their journey to post-college life by introducing them to the good, the bad and the ugly of the PR world. Being a mentor to students is no new task for me; I’ve been connected to higher education for the past 10 years, and it’s a field I will never leave!  

Having a growth mindset is something I talk to students about frequently, and I’ll share with you what I often share with them. Commit to being a lifelong learner. Learning doesn’t stop when you graduate from college, and learning doesn’t always have to be formal. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of my formal education. I worked my butt off to obtain bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but some of my greatest knowledge has developed from being out of the classroom. It stems from an ongoing curiosity to explore and the never-ending power of asking “why?”  

I challenge each one of you to work toward activating your growth mindset. It’s amazing the things we can do — and learn — when we push ourselves to be uncomfortable.  

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Cassie Cotton

Cassie is an expert project manager with a futuristic mindset, and she’s at her best when she’s had two cups of coffee and is working to solve complex problems with creative solutions.

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