Growth Mindset – What Does this Mean for Coaches?

I’ve been thinking a lot about growth mindset lately and what this means for us coaches.

A few years back we read the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck with our staff and did some really great learning around it’s central message: it’s not just our abilities or talent that brings us success – but whether we approach our goals and work with a fixed or growth mindset. If you haven’t read the book, here are a few of my favorite excerpts to help give you some more background:

Believing that your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character — well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.

There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience.

As you begin to understand the fixed and growth mindsets, you will see exactly how one thing leads to another—how a belief that your qualities are carved in stone leads to a host of thoughts and actions, and how a belief that your qualities can be cultivated leads to a host of different thoughts and actions, taking you down an entirely different road.

At the time of reading the book, I was totally pumped up and inspired to work on my own growth mindset, but I haven’t honestly thought about it for a long time. Then last week I happened to hear a really terrific podcast with Carol Dweck as the guest, and I got to thinking about it all over again.

After listening to the podcast that morning and heading into school, I found myself much more aware of different fixed vs. growth mindset thoughts that came up in my head that day. And when the fixed thoughts came up, I was bugged with myself, because “Hey! I’m a coach! I should be radiating a growth mindset!!”

But the truth is, I’m not always growth mindset perfect. I get down on myself and can be hard on myself. I can sometimes be harsh in my judgment of teachers qualities and abilities.

Now do I need to be perfect? Maybe not. But I can certainly be more aware, and take steps to get better.

So what’s a helpful first step in this growth mindset building process? How about changing your thoughts and words. Check out the infographic below for ideas on what this might sound like.


And how about some specific ideas for how to foster a growth mindset at your school and in your coaching?

  • Read the book “Mindset” as a staff and facilitate discussion circles.
  • Embrace the idea and word “YET
  • Develop and use growth mindset statements with staff consistently as part of school culture.
  • Make the connection between “process” and “achievement” in your feedback.
  • Incorporate growth mindset activities for PD icebreakers.
  • Emphasize learning as a process.
  • Create a growth mindset language wall in the PD room – help teachers recognize when they are having a fixed or growth mindset
  • Highlight mistakes as an opportunity for learning.
  • Work with teachers to develop a bank of language for feedback that can foster a growth mindset in students.
  • Read “How Children Succeed” with staff, and watch the Angela Duckworth Tedx video.


In the comments below, I’d love to hear:

  • What are YOUR hidden fixed mindset thoughts? How can you adjust this to a growth mindset?
  • What’s one thing you can do to foster a growth mindset at your school?

Thanks for spending some time with me. Happy Friday and I”ll talk to you soon!


6 Responses to “Growth Mindset – What Does this Mean for Coaches?”

  1. Amy August 28, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

    Love the info-graphic you created! Thanks for reminding me to think more about the growth mindset! It’s a valuable approach to consider when coaching, teaching or even parenting!
    Thank you!

    • Kristin Houser August 31, 2015 at 8:16 am #

      Hi Amy! I’m so glad you liked the infographic. And I agree — growth mindset thinking definitely applies to more than one area of life!

  2. Syl August 28, 2015 at 8:27 pm #

    Perfect timing! Growth Mindset was on my list of “gotta read more about this list”. Thanks for the headstart…..

  3. Craig August 28, 2015 at 9:08 pm #

    Mindset: Remember that whatever experiences you have, good or bad, will help you somewhere down the line.

  4. Amy C. August 29, 2015 at 11:56 am #

    Thank you for this post! I read Carol Dweck’s book this summer and love your ideas for how to foster the growth mindset in teachers for coaches. Great way to start the year.

    • Kristin Houser August 31, 2015 at 8:17 am #

      Thanks Amy for your comment and for being a part of the MsHouser community! Hope you have a great start to your year :)

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