Growth Mindset: Your Key to Thriving

[Photo credit: Teens embody a growth mindset on the high ropes course at Camp Fire Columbia’s Camp Namanu, outside of Portland, Oregon, in August 2017.]

Do you believe people can change? Do you think we can grow? Do you consider things like intelligence, talents and skills prizes of a random genetic lottery or qualities anybody can develop with time and tenacity?

Camp Fire is built around the belief that we can boost our smarts, develop new skills (or lose them if we don’t practice) and learn new ways to, well, learn.

In the Camp Fire world, mistakes aren’t failures; they are an important part of how we grow.

This approach to life and learning is called a growth mindset, and it permeates Camp Fire’s culture.

In the words of Stanford’s Dr. Carol Dweck, “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

Love of learning? Check. Resilience? Yep. We’re all about that. Once kids and teens have found their sparks, a growth mindset arms them with the curiosity and grit to develop them.

How do you know if you have a growth mindset? As yourself a few simple questions (or take Dr. Dweck’s in-depth quiz, if you have more time).
If you nodded yup to 2 and 4, you’re working that growth mindset like a boss. If you answered yeah, probably to 1 and 3, you are likely operating out of a fixed mindset.

  1. When you describe your own skills and talents, do you generally say they are things you were born with…
  2. ...or things you worked hard to develop?
  3. When you run into a challenge, do you often blame the problem on a personal lack (“I’m just not creative”)...
  4. ...or get curious about what you could change to find a solution?
Riding horses at Camp Fire Central Puget Sound's Camp Sealth, Washington State, Aug. 2017.

[Photo credit: Riding horses at Camp Fire Central Puget Sound’s Camp Sealth on Vashon Island, Washington, in Aug. 2017.]

A fixed mindset is the opposite of a growth mindset. It assumes intelligence and talents are innate: you either have them or you don’t. If we don’t question that mindset, we’re left feeling anxious that we don’t have what it takes to overcome obstacles…and can’t do anything to change those deficiencies.

Fortunately, neuroscience shows us that our brains are malleable. Our brains grow when we use them—just like our muscles. We can teach ourselves to adopt a growth mindset, just like any other skill. We can change! That’s good news because having a growth mindset is scientifically linked to all kinds of great stuff, including higher parental school involvement, the ability to weather traumatic events, and lower rates of childhood depression and anxiety.

We’re going to spend September exploring growth mindsets here on the blog and across our social media accounts. Follow along and join in the #growthmindset conversation!