There are many things employers can do to boost employee buy-in and productivity (see Dan Pink's excellent Ted Talk on the subject here). But can employers really solve the problem of workers who lack motivation, persistence, and grit? I think not. The answer, believe it or not, may lie with parents--long before said employee arrives at his or her place of employment.
Mindset is Everything
According to Carol Dweck, the world-renowned Stanford University psychologist, our ability to achieve and succeed in life is tied to the mindset we develop in childhood. Dweck's landmark book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, argues that "Teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports." Instead of win/lose, pass/fail, all or nothing propositions, when we accept that challenges are a natural and essential part of learning, we actually become smarter and more resilient. But the best place to teach this vital truth is in childhood.
Here are 3 of Dweck's Tips for developing a Growth Mindset in your child:
1. Never teach your child that he or she was born with certain fixed gifts and talents. Let your kids know that they are talented and gifted, but the Growth Mindset says that success comes from effort, practice, and hard work, rather than innate gifted-ness. It is more important that kids learn how to develop their gifts and talents than the gifts and talents themselves. Learning to accept hard work as essential to growth and success is a critical life skill every kid needs. What's more, Kids with a growth mindset tend to be happier and more well-adjusted.
2. Emphasize Effort rather than Results. If a child learns to give their best effort in everything that they do, good results will follow. Results matter, but not nearly as much as learning the process that yields great results. When kids learn this process, they can apply it to any area of their lives and they will be successful. Research shows that kids whose parents obsess about "achievement--outcomes, grades, winning, etc.--have much higher rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse," notes Dr. Christine Carter of the Greater Good Science Center. Focus on their growth and your kids will achieve.
3. Let them Fail (sometimes). Most parents cannot bear the thought of watching their child fail. Yet these very failures are sometimes the best learning experiences for a child. Parents must embrace a child's failures and use them as learning opportunities to help them grow. So, instead of staying up all night to finish that homework assignment that should have been done after school, go to bed. Avoid the urge to always shield your kid from the consequences of his or her behavior. Doing so only stunts their growth and weakens them.
Great kids are not born: they're made! Focus on developing a growth mindset in your child and she will be on the road to success in life!