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Recap - AFT 2017 Spring Summit

Using a Growth Mindset to Develop Skills

Training and development expert Trevor Ragan, creator of the Train Ugly concept, explained the significance of uniting the mental component, or growth mindset, with motor science learning, at the 2017 AFT Spring Meeting in Amelia Island, Fla.

Ragan shared research and touched on three things: how learning works, why people avoid it through resistance, and how to get over that. To overcome resistance the people involved need to understand what goes into becoming a great learner starting with how they think about learning.

He identified two mindsets. Some people have a fixed mindset, where enabling skills and intelligence are set, in other words, people have what they have and there is no looking back. Others have a growth mindset; these people believe skills and intelligence are grown and developed. Most people have both mindsets, which they change from day to day, Ragan asserted.

Many problems seen in the workplace, in school and sports, Ragan explained, connect back to people not wanting to make mistakes and look bad; or people convince themselves they do not have the capacity to learn, grow and change.

“The aha moments cannot happen without the crashes,” Ragan pointed out. “This is something people know but tend to forget.”

The action of learning requires the ingredients to growth: effort, challenges, mistakes and feedback. Research shows when individuals have the belief they are more likely to put a plan into action. This is also self-fulfilling for people with a growth mindset because they believe they can learn. “Action is the key to growth,” Ragan maintained.

It all starts with faith in oneself. “If you change the belief, you change the system,” he suggested. “Beliefs can either be super empowering when it comes to learning or super destructive.”

However, the science is very clear about learning; it says people can learn to become better at anything. Struggle is the key ingredient to growth. “Skills are built not born and they are yours if you earn them,” Ragan told the AFT audience.

“Use the fear, don’t let it use us,” he added. Fear robs people of opportunity. It is not something you re rid of easily. “When it comes to learning opportunities, we need to develop the skills of doing the opposite of what fear tells us to do.”

Studies reveal what happens when people learn how fear works. Capabilities improve when people are taught anxiety is okay. Fearlessness, Ragan observed, is a flawed learning tool.

“The only way to not feel fear when you are doing something big is to not care,” Ragan stated. “If you are doing something where the outcome is unknown, that you care about, that matters, you are going to feel fear and that is okay.”

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