5 Powerful Shifts That Will Activate A Growth Mindset

growth mindset and ADHD

Famous French painter Paul Cezanne was rejected by the Académie des Beaux-Arts (now the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris) in 1861. He was told his work was not good enough. (source)

When I first heard this story I had to look it up to make sure it was true.

How could a man that later became one of the most celebrated artists in history have been rejected and told his work wasn’t good enough?

This rejection might have discouraged and humiliated him, and it potentially could have pushed him to quit painting. But obviously it did not.

What did Cezanne do to become not only good enough, but better than most?

He had what Carol Dwek refers to as a Growth Mindset. (affiliate link, see my full disclosure.)

Cultivating a growth mindset is important for ADHD, and it makes us better people.

5 powerful shifts that will activate a growth mindset


Don’t be afraid of hard work

When it comes to motivation, ADHDers sometimes struggle. I know this.

We build things up in our minds, thinking it will be too much work and we will not be able to do it.

Part of the issue is that hard work is often perceived as unpleasant. But if you really think about it, during a meeting or collaboration that is intense we are at our best.

When we are trying to solve a tough problem, or help our children with something, we look for solutions and problem solve. We have all the energy and motivation we need!

Teach your children that the “work” of learning something new, or solving a problem is its own reward.

If I hadn’t forced myself to continue learning about blogging, this website would be gone. But because I went through the learning process I now have something I am proud of.

This site isn’t perfect, but I am proud of the work I have put into it.

Try new strategies

When Cezanne first started painting, it is said he would wander the Louvre for inspiration.

But when he was rejected from art school he had to try another strategy. He had to regroup and try something new.

I recently launched a new one-on-one program. Parts of it are working, but I still am looking to see how I can improve it.

Maybe a new way of delivering the material will work?  I won’t know if I don’t try something new.

When faced with a challenge, ask yourself, “Is there a strategy I haven’t tried yet that might work here?”

Compliment others for their efforts

Following directions is not one of my son’s strong points. He leans toward oppositional in his personality, so this is something we are working on.

Because he almost never complies willingly with what was requested, he often finds himself working twice as hard as he needs to in order to do something.

In the end the worksheet is completed or the bed is made, just not without some drama.

I always make a point to remark on how hard he worked. Not on the end result – but the work he put into it.

At first he didn’t even notice I was complimenting his work ethic. But just the other day he finally asked me why I was always pointing out hard work in himself and others.

I told him that being naturally “smart” or good at something doesn’t mean you will always be successful.

The people that get really good at sports or math or anything got that way because they kept working.

The minute you stop working is the minute you stop growing.

Look for the challenge

In the book mindset, Carol Dweck writes, “you don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it!” (affiliate link, see my disclosure.)

A few months ago my trainer challenged me to run two miles, four or five days per week.

My body type is short and muscular. I do not have a runner’s body. I also have disc issues in my back and weak ankles.

At first I did the running just to prove that I could meet the challenge.

Three months later I run willingly. Not because I am good at it or fast – I jog 5 mph for up to 25 minutes at a time. But because I started to enjoy the challenge.

How long can I run without a break? Can I run just .10 faster and not even notice?

I am fully enjoying something that I am not very good at. (Just don’t tell my trainer I said that.)

Learn how to accept help

Many of us spend our days trying to prove our competence. At work, at home, and as parents and partners.

ADHD has a way of eroding our sense of personal competency, I certainly know this.

Refusing help is not brave at all, it’s actually an act of fear. People with a fixed mindset are always trying to prove they are smart or competent.

So accepting the ideas/input/advice of others is seen as a threat to their sense of self worth.

Examples of fixed mindset refusal:

  1. A friend who has recently lost weight offers to walk with you after work for exercise, because she knows you also want to lose weight.

But you tell her you don’t have time because you don’t like the idea of trying her new system. You think, “that won’t work for me anyway, nothing ever does.”

  1. A work colleague offers to show you a solution to a problem you have been working on.

You ignore their email because you feel** like they are trying to belittle you, or show off their knowledge.

  1. Your psychologist suggests that you try medication for your anxiety/depression.

You don’t make an appointment to discuss meds because that seems weak and taking medications is a lazy way out. You feel insulted that the therapist even suggested it.

Think ahead by looking at the past

Consider a time when you did something you were really proud of.

  • What actions led to that?
  • Did you just do it naturally, or did you work for it?
  • How did you get through the process?

Looking at past successes can give us a window into and a way of planning for the future.

Instead of fearing new challenges, we can start to see opportunities. After all, if you did the work before and you were successful, your hard work paid off.

Remind yourself the next time you are faced with a personal challenge that you are prepared.

You can do hard things because you have done them before.

Life is a whirlwind. It’s all so hard to balance.

You want to strengthen your relationships and your sense of competency.

I get it, because I feel the same way.

As I work toward developing a growth mindset I feel confident that I can influence my child to do the same.

Cultivating a growth mindset is important for ADHD, and it makes us better people. 

How can you work on your growth mindset?

What does growth mindset mean to you?

Hit reply and let me know!

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