Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

Growth mindset? Think of it as the key to resilience and success.

People and teams with a growth mindset believe that success is the result of effort. They believe that setbacks are learning opportunities.

(People and teams with a fixed mindset believe setbacks are a sign that they don't have the intelligence or talent to succeed - and there's nothing they can do about it.)

To develop a growth mindset in your team and individual employees (or children):

  • Praise effort, perseverence, cooperation, strategies and resilience - never intelligence or talent. (You'll be praising what they can change.)
  • Accept that setbacks are just part of learning and eventual success and talk to them that way
  • Ask 'what can you learn from what happened?'
  • Praise those who take on challenging projects. (Don't just wait till they succeed.)
  • Face reality. If they didn't deserve to succeed let them know - diplomatically ('I think you'll need more effort/cooperation/planning next time.)
  • Tell them that disappointment and frustration are natural, even for resilient people. It's what they do next that matters.
  • Make your praise proportionate and specific. ('Well done. Your perseverance paid off.' Not, 'fabulous job!')


Our knowlege of growth and fixed mindsets is the result of three decades of research by Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University.

Interested in a workshop on team leadership or resilience?


You'll see various interpretations of SMART. Here's one.

Choose goals that are...

Specific (A definite outcome, not just ‘improve my skills in…’)
Measureable (Figures if you can, but sometimes it will be a tick in a box, like ‘Climb Mount Cook’)
Achievable (A stretch, but not a fantasy)
Rewarding (Each goal should be something you really want to achieve)
Time-based (Decide deadlines)

So what's missing?

Action - a particular way of turning good intentions into action. The researchers' name for the next stage is 'mental contrasting'. It means thinking, not only about the goal, but what might stop you making progress towards your goal - in that order. It's contrasting because you regularly compare the two - goal Vs obstacles.

Try 'When/then'

Let's say your goal is to get fit. Maybe your major obstacle is procrastination or distraction. Try this: 'When I get home from work, then I will go for a run around the park.' No excuses, no exceptions. The less you think about it the better. A run immediately after your arrival home is just what you do. Everything else can wait.

More examples of 'when/then'... The sentences might seem a bit unnatural, but having both when and then emphasises the action. (And you don't have to say them aloud.)

'When my partner talks to me, then I will turn off any distractions and give my full attention.'
'When I first sit at my office desk in the morning, then I will call three clients.'
'When my colleague gets angry or unreasonable, then I will stay calm.'
'When other people are talking and I feel like changing to my topic, then I will ask at least two questions to explore their topic.'
'When 10.30pm comes around, then I will go to bed.'
'When I am in my car alone, then I will listen to my foreign language/business CDs.'

Keep reviewing the obstacles 

Are the obstacles still relevant?

Do the obstacles make the goals unattainable? Would it be better to abandon those goals and try something else? 

Are the obstacles so easy to overcome that your goals are not really stretching you? Google has decided that the sweet spot for success with goals is 60-70%. Any more success suggests that the goals weren't enough of a stretch. Lower than that range suggests that we're not dealing with the obstacles or the goal is just a fantasy.


Interested in a workshop on achieving goals for your team? Contact us

We'll put you in touch with a training specialist, not a salesperson.



About Ralph Brown

ralph brown blog3

Ralph is our founder and managing director. He has a background in psychology, television journalism and business.

Ralph's passions are psychology and writing. He leads workshops on both and speaks to conferences on the psychology of thriving at work.

In 2011  Professional Speakers Australia awarded him its top speaking accreditation, the CSP.

He has written six books and more than a hundred articles on psychology and writing. International research journals have published his articles reviewing the research on resilience.

Ralph enjoys trips to France. He lives in rural Canterbury.

Interested in training in business writing?

A business writing workshop will give your team far more than just plain English. They’ll be achieving more clarity in less time. Through their emails and letters, they’ll be building cooperative relationships with their colleagues, customers and community.

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Interested in training to develop your teams’ resilience?

Discover what top achievers do when the going gets tough.

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