#103:  The Power of an Entrepreneurial Growth Mindset

Having a growth mindset is essential for success in entrepreneurship.


Welcome back to the Coaching Hive Podcast! 

Today’s podcast is all about growth mindset and how to cultivate a growth mindset for success and business. In the past few years, maybe the past decade or so, growth mindset has been a really hot topic. In fact, if you head over to Google and search the key term growth mindset, you will see about 207 million results.

Hot topic, right? But when you put in the word entrepreneur alongside growth mindset, you’ll find that only about 10 million of those results are geared toward entrepreneurs. Now, if you’re listening and thinking, I know about growth mindset, I’ve heard about it. In fact, you’ve probably heard about it. If you have kids who are under 20, maybe even under 30, the reason growth mindset has been such a hot topic is because it’s all over schools. 

You may have heard of the fantastic resource called the Big Life Kids Journal, which is geared toward helping kids of all ages and even adults to develop a growth mindset. But you know, what does it really apply to entrepreneurs? I mean, growth mindset is something that we talk about in schools. So why are we talking about it today? And even more importantly, how does it relate to this concept of grit and how does all of this relate to business? This is our focus for today, mindset, grit, and business. 

If you are ready, grab your pen and paper and let’s dive in to our topic for today.

Growth Mindset and Grit

I’m excited for today’s episode on growth mindset for you, the entrepreneur, but let’s start with the basics. What exactly is a growth mindset and why is it important for entrepreneurs? Okay. A growth mindset is the belief that our abilities and intelligence can be developed through effort, good teaching and learning from our mistakes. And it’s important for entrepreneurs because we need to constantly be learning and growing in order to be successful.

We can’t be afraid of failure because it’s only through failure that we learn and we grow. Carol Dweck is widely known for her research on fixed and growth mindset. In fact, that’s probably, if you’ve heard anything about growth mindset, it is probably Carol Dweck’s work that you’ve heard about. And in a 2006 publication, she noted that people who have a growth mindset embrace challenges.  They persist in the face of setbacks. They see effort as the path to mastery. They learn from criticism and they find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. When you think about yourself as an entrepreneur, you’re probably imagining the challenges that you’ve experienced, the setbacks that you’ve had to manage the effort that it has taken for you to get to the point you are in your journey.

You are thinking about the criticisms you’ve received, whether from your services, your products, maybe it was on a sales page, a way that you reached out to a potential client and they said, oh, that’s, that felt kind of funny. I didn’t like that. We’ve all had criticism, and you’ve probably learned a lot of lessons by looking at other entrepreneurs and seeing what they are doing.

You feel inspired when you see the success of others. Guess what? If you are embracing those challenges persisting, even when you have a setback, if you are putting in the effort and knowing that it will relate directly to mastery. If you are learning from the criticism instead of just hiding in a corner, you, you can hide in a corner for the first little bit, but then crawl out and learn from the criticism, right? And if you are finding lessons and inspiration in the success of others, congratulations, you are already well on your way to that growth mindset. 

Now, I can imagine that you are probably starting to see the importance of why we need a growth mindset as an entrepreneur. After all, entrepreneurship, honestly, it’s about 99% challenge and setback, isn’t it? It’s about 1% of those successes they sustain you, but the other 99%, it’s about figuring things out. And when you combine a growth mindset with grit, ah, you have a winning combination. 

Now, growth mindset, most people have heard of at least peripherally, but grit might be something that’s new to you. If it is new to you, if the concept of grit is new, it was explained in a TED Talk by Angela Duckworth, and I’ll link the TED talk to you in the sh ted talk for you in the show notes so that you can go watch it. It’s about six minutes, which is perfect, but the heart of that TED talk and the concept of grit by Angela Duckworth is that we need to be in whatever we’re doing for the long haul.

She says that we need to be prepared to persevere not just in the moment, but over the days, the weeks, the months, the years. This is grit. Grit, according to Angela, is the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals. Entrepreneur, entrepreneurship. Being an entrepreneur is all about the long-term goals, isn’t it?

Nothing comes quick. In her TED talk, she goes on to say that the best way to develop grit is to, you guessed it, foster a growth mindset. Are you starting to see some of the connections here? Being an entrepreneur is definitely about the long haul overnight successes. They’re really the anomaly, not the norm. In fact, even those so-called overnight successes probably had 128 failures before the so-called overnight success.

So is it really an overnight success? Probably not. If being an entrepreneur requires grit being in it for the long haul and the best way to develop grit is through a growth mindset, then how do we cultivate that growth mindset? 

And here we are back at our concept for today, growth mindset. After all, we are not in middle school anymore, so we don’t have that concentrated effort or that class that’s going to teach us how to develop a growth mindset out in the world. The skill is something that’s often overlooked for more tangible tasks and outcomes, but it is critical to you as an entrepreneur. And there are a few things that entrepreneurs can do to cultivate a growth mindset. Are you ready? Do you have your pen and paper ready?

Alright, here’s the first thing. 

1. Be aware of your own mindset. 

Are we exhibiting or experiencing a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Because once you know where you stand, you can start to work on shifting your mindset to be more growth oriented, to have that growth perspective, meaning that it’s not just about IQ, right? Grit and growth mindset are not about IQ.  It’s not about how smart you are, how fast you learn. It’s about embracing the challenges persisting in the face of setbacks. It’s about learning from criticism and taking step after step in that long term goal, that long haul vision. Once you know where you stand, you can start shifting that mindset. 

2. Surround yourself with people who have a Growth Mindset.

This might be colleagues, mentors, or even friends and family members who are supportive and believe in our ability to grow and succeed. Imagine this, if you were to surround yourself with a group of people who constantly tell you that you’re never going to succeed and you can’t do it, what do you think the outcome will be? Yeah, it won’t work. You won’t succeed. You won’t be able to do it, and you will also think that you can’t do it, okay? If you surround yourself with a body of people, a community of people who value a growth mindset, who welcome challenge, embrace setbacks, who learn from the criticism and even seek criticism because they know it will help them to be better, you are going to find yourself doing the same thing. And as a result, you are going to develop that growth mindset. You are going to develop the grit necessary to be a successful entrepreneur. 

So the first thing, become more aware of your own mindset. The second thing, surround yourself with people who have a growth mindset. 

3. Be intentional about your learning.

The fact of the matter is that we can’t just coast by and hope that things work out. Growth mindset is not hope. Growth mindset is about actively learning and growing and striving to improve ourselves. How can we learn from the criticism? How can we persist in the face of setbacks if we are not learning new tools, ideas, techniques, perspectives in order to do so?

4. Give yourself permission to fail.

Failure is a necessary part of growth, and if you’re not willing to fail, you’re not going to learn and grow from those setbacks. That’s when the biggest growth happens, those challenges. That’s when the biggest growth happens. Give yourself permission to fail. Failing just means that this particular approach didn’t work right now. Try something else. 

5. Learn a little bit about how the brain works. 

You don’t have to become a neuroscientist. I know that you’re probably thinking, yeah, but you’re a psych professor. You know about how the brain works. It’s too complicated. It’s not, I promise you it is challenging sometimes, but have a basic understanding of how neural pathways form, how they’re strengthened, and how they are pruned. My 11 year old has heard this from me so many times. He rolls his eyes when I remind him that we need to strengthen the pathways that make growth mindset a reality so that the default pathway, they become the default pathways. When something challenging pops up, he’s heard it so many times. He knows how the brain works.

I’m hoping that if he has to take an intro psych class as a college student, maybe he’ll have a leg up on understanding how the brain works a little bit. But more importantly, I’m hoping that he’ll go into adulthood with a firm grasp of the benefits of challenges and perseverance that life takes. After all, he might be an entrepreneur someday. Learn how the brain works.

There are so many amazing resources out there that talk about how we can strengthen neural pathways through repetition, through learning, through growth, through seeking those challenges, through changing the words that we use on a day-to-day basis.

Action Item

Now, if you are thinking about what action you should take this week, let me make it easy for you. Go learn a little bit more about growth mindset and grit.

And I told you I’m going to make it easy. I’m going to link a positive psychology article that talks about both concepts as well as Angela Duckworth’s 2013, Ted Talk on Grit. Like I said, that TED Talk, it’s six minutes when you read the article and watch the TED Talk, it’s going to take you less than 20 minutes to complete both tasks, and I can just about guarantee it’s going to spark some ideas for the next steps that you can take in your growth mindset and developing grit.

Inside the Coaching Hive, growth mindset and grit are concepts that we work on day in and day out. And you know what? It makes a difference. Entrepreneurship is about the long haul. It’s not about the quick win. It’s not about overnight success. It is about sustaining interest in an effort toward very long-term goals.


As we wrap up for today, let me quickly recap the main ideas that we’ve covered. 

  1. First up, we said that a growth mindset and grit are absolutely essential to entrepreneurship. And if you are ready to shift your mindset and add a dose of grit to your business, you can learn about how the brain forms and sustains neural pathways. 
  2. You can get to know a little bit more about your own mindset and then surround yourself with people, especially entrepreneurs who have a growth mindset and exhibit grit in their business. 
  3. You can be more intentional about your learning, explore new ideas, concepts, and approaches. As we know, business is about staying informed. It’s about staying ahead of the curve and being flexible. The more you know, the more agile your business will be. 
  4. Finally, give yourself permission to fail. This is where growth happens in business. 

And today, I want to leave you with two quotes from Angela Duckworth. First up,

“Nobody gets to be good at something without effort, no matter what your aptitude is.”

Angela Duckworth

So let me ask you, what effort will you put in today? And if you are left thinking that you are going to have to work really hard, if grit is the necessary ingredient to entrepreneurial success, let me offer you some powerful words from Angela. Here is the second quote. 

“If the quality and quantity of continuous effort toward goals matters as much as I think it does, we may actually get more productive, not less as we get older, even if we can’t pull all-nighters like we used to.”

Angela Duckworth

So, my entrepreneurial colleagues, all nighters are not necessary to enjoy increasing productivity as we age. Grit, and growth mindset are well within your capabilities, regardless of your current strengths, ideas, assets, whatever it is you are capable of developing and strengthening your growth mindset and your grit inside your business.

I’ll see you back here next week for another episode of the Coaching Hive Podcast, where a focus on mentoring and community and implementation removes the overwhelm of building your successful and profitable business and adds in a dose of momentum.

Until next time, have a healthy, safe, and happy week.

Check out these Action Item Resources

Grit and Growth Mindset Article:

Angela Duckworth TED Talk:


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