Better Off with a Benefit Mindset

By Ash Buchanan

Over the past 10 years, Carol Dweck’s Fixed and Growth Mindset concept has taken the world by storm.

It has helped a great many people overcome their life challenges, and get closer to ‘fulfilling their potential in life’. It’s an amazing achievement, raising global awareness of the role our inner lives play in shaping our ability to learn and grow.

However, are we starting to see the limits of a growth based mindset? Is it time for the next evolution in mindset concepts, by positioning our aspirations for growth within a purposeful and leadership based context?

In this article, I explore the emergence of a third mindset – the Benefit Mindset – that is redefining success in education.

What is a Benefit Mindset?

The Benefit Mindset describes society’s everyday leaders who choose to promote wellbeing on both an individual and a collective level. They question ‘why’ they do what they do and believe in making a meaningful difference.

How is a Benefit Mindset different to the Growth Mindset?

The Growth Mindset is based on the belief that with effort, we can learn and grow. The Benefit Mindset goes a step further. It’s based on the belief that with effort, we can use what we have learned to lead – and make a meaningful difference for ourselves and the world. We can choose to bring out the best in each other and innovate in ways that really matter.

When we choose to make a meaningful difference, we become an everyday leader. Someone who promotes wellbeing on both an individual and a collective level.

This evolution in thinking is not to suggest concepts like the Growth Mindset are less important. Learning how to grow and differentiate ourselves through deliberate practice is integral to every person’s development. The difference is, students adopting a Benefit Mindset use their development and uniqueness to make valuable contributions to the communities and ecosystems they belong. They choose to use what they’ve learned to lead.

Why is a Benefit Mindset so important?

We live in an increasingly uncertain and disruptive world facing a broad range of complex challenges such as social inequity, widespread mental health issues and climate change. It’s a climate that’s challenging students to not only develop 21st-century skills, but also cultivate an inner compass and the navigation skills to come together and resiliently rise above them.

Developing a sense of purpose and the leadership capacities to play a valuable role in society is becoming vital – for the wellbeing of students, as well as the wellbeing of our world. It’s about developing a culture of thinking about me and we together, so the key questions young people ask are not how they can learn and grow in isolation, but rather, how we can come together and become co-contributors to each other’s flourishing.

Interweaving learning and leadership

“School is about producing leaders. It doesn’t mean bosses; it means people who can genuinely make a profound transformative contribution to their society as a part of how they live their lives” — Peter Senge

If we truly want to give future generations the best opportunity to thrive, we had best prepare them with the learning and leadership skills to find their way in an increasingly complex world.

Growth Mindsets are valuable, but they also have their limits. It’s only when young people position their aspirations for growth and learning within a purposeful and leadership based context that they more fully set themselves up for a healthy and resilient future.

It’s time to boldly reimagine what’s possible in education — and prepare young people with the mindsets they need to thrive in the years to come.

For more on mindsets, see:

Ash Buchanan developed the Benefit Mindset as part of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne. Connect with him on Twitter: @CohereSustain

Stay in-the-know with all things EdTech and innovations in learning by signing up to receive the weekly Smart Update.

Guest Author

Getting Smart loves its varied and ranging staff of guest contributors. From edleaders, educators and students to business leaders, tech experts and researchers we are committed to finding diverse voices that highlight the cutting edge of learning.

Discover the latest in learning innovations

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

1 Comment

Robert Ward

This is such an important, inspiring article that every teacher must take to heart. Ash takes us beyond personal growth to the crucial areas of empathy and altruism. You will never forget the day you learned about Benefit Mindset because it will transform your teaching and in turn change the world.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.