The Importance of Having a Growth Mindset in IT

Don't get frozen in place on your career path by lack of knowledge or skills. Instead, focus on what you can do expand your professional repertoire.

The Importance of Having a Growth Mindset“I can’t” are two of the most disempowering words in the English language. In the context of career and job advancement, they are often spoken out of fear of failure or limiting beliefs. By simply changing your stance from “I can’t” to “I can’t yet,” you as an IT pro can set yourself up to build a fulfilling career in tech. 

What Is a Growth Mindset and Why Should It Matter to IT Pros? 

One reason some IT pros claim they can’t do something, such as obtain a promotion, earn an IT certification, get the job they want, etc., is because they don’t have a growth mindset. This makes sense when you consider how little the importance of having a growth mindset is stressed in the workplace. But what is a growth mindset and why don’t more people possess it? 

According to Dr. Carol Dweck, professor of psychology, Stanford University, a person can either sabotage or foster their own success through their mindset. The author of multiple books proposes that success is not born of talent, education or intelligence, but of a flexible mindset that believes personal change and growth is well within reach. 

A growth mindset is in opposition to a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset assumes one is limited in their achievements based on the intelligence they were born with. A growth mindset pushes back against this disheartening frame of mind by suggesting humans are capable of intellectual evolution and that their intelligence is malleable through the acquisition of new skills via ongoing learning, knowledge sharing and receiving feedback.  

In a nutshell, if you lean toward believing you can’t change and must do the best you can with what you have, you have a fixed mindset. If you believe change is possible despite your limitations, you have a growth mindset, which can help you establish the IT career you want. 

Developing a Growth Mindset Takes Work 

Which mindset – growth or fixed – would be more likely to empower you to reach your career goals? The obvious answer would be a growth mindset. However, having a growth mindset is not automatic for all people. Some people are born with an “I can'' mentality. Many others are predisposed to downplaying their potential. The latter group must put intentional effort into developing a growth mindset by challenging the disqualifying beliefs that hold them back in their careers.  

A growth mindset takes effort to create because it calls us to the uncomfortable task of introspection and challenging our own negative concepts about ourselves. Also, to develop a growth mindset, participation in continuous learning and training is necessary. So is the acceptance of the idea that failure can be positive.

When it comes to advancing your IT career, embracing failure is essential. Success is often seen as a linear process with little room for slip ups or defeat, but it has much more to do with getting back up when you fall than never falling in the first place. For an IT pro to fail forward and get back up after being knocked down, they must see failure as an opportunity for professional growth.  

It’s not realistic to expect to go from doubting your ability to succeed/reach your IT career goals to having an unswerving conviction that you can do anything you set your mind to. However, simply changing your “I can’t” to “I can’t yet” will feel more believable to you on an emotional level and help your mind accept your new truth. Over time, this will reflect in your career. 

How a Growth Mindset Helps You Succeed in IT

A growth mindset isn’t just theoretical - it is also highly practical and can help IT pros reach their goals and perform their job tasks with excellence and proficiency. For example, problem-solving is a vital skill all those working in IT must possess. A fixed mindset inhibits problem-solving, but a growth mindset promotes it.

According to a recent article by the Washington Post, “(An) experiment compared the brains of people who have growth mind-sets with those who have fixed mind-sets as they were given trivia tests. The brain images suggested that after missing a question, people with a growth mindset were more attentive to the correct answer, while those with fixed mindsets appeared less interested in learning the right answer and instead showed an emotional response to getting the question wrong.”

This indicates that having a growth mindset helps people not take perceived failure personally, making them more resilient when facing failure and motivating them to find the right answer. A growth mindset helps IT pros bounce back from making mistakes and immediately begin seeking solutions to problems, not questioning their personal competency. On the other hand, having a fixed mindset can get in the way of solving problems. 

In IT, Don’t Let Failure Throw You Off

Failure is part of life and comes with the territory in IT. Too often, IT pros attach shame to failure, real or perceived, but it is nothing to be ashamed of. Embracing failure and viewing it as an opportunity to learn something new and become better at your job is part of having a growth mindset, as is seeking out ongoing training and learning opportunities. Self-compassion and patience are also necessary when establishing a growth mindset for the purpose of reaching IT career goals. It doesn’t happen overnight. 

Having a growth mindset benefits every area of your life, including your career. Building a growth mindset is worth the time and energy, and you’ll get out of it what you put into it. 

Earning an IT certification is a great way to begin cultivating a growth mindset. Studying for and earning a CompTIA certification will stretch you mentally and teach you new skills. It will also boost your self-confidence and help shatter a fixed mindset. Discover more reasons why IT certifications are worth getting.


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