The Force Is With You: When Star Wars and the Growth Mindset Meet

SEP-GRIS-EXTRAIT

Where’s the growth mindset metaphor in Star Wars? Find the answer in this article!

SEP-GRIS-EXTRAIT

At Learn Assembly, one of our missions is to help you be lifelong learners. This is why we launched Learning Boost, a program aiming to develop your learning agility. One of the topics we cover is the personal development dynamic. It’s represented in this article by the growth mindset.

Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – Georges Lucas, 1980

Do you also have tremendous capabilities and is your manager small, green and switches the order of his/her sentences?

In this scene of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke believes he’s unable to use the Force in order to lift the ship and gives up after his first failure. But Master Yoda shows him that the impossible only lies in his mind. Without saying the words, he just disclosed one of the biggest secrets of individual performance: the “growth mindset”.

So, are you in Luke’s or Yoda’s team? Do you believe that our skills are fixed or that we can develop them?

The Power of Yet: the Story of Carol Dweck

More than 30 years ago, a young american researcher took an interest in students’ attitudes towards failure and analyzed the school system in the United-States. She observed in a Chicago highschool that some students had a very positive reaction when they were doing an exercise that was a little too difficult for them (they said things like “I love challenges”). On the other hand, others had a very hard time dealing with the situation. They saw it as tragic, if not disastrous.

This researcher is Carol Dweck. She’s a pioneer in the field of motivation, why people succeed (or don’t) and how to foster success. She originated the concept of Growth Mindset, as opposed to what she calls the Fixed Mindset. You might wonder why these notions can help you in your daily life. They can actually have an impact in your personal and professional development. Here’s how:

  • Your skills are not predetermined: you can develop your current skills and learn new ones constantly, with practice and experience. 
  • The method and process you use to learn are more important than the result: a negative outcome only shows that you haven’t developed a skill yet, but it should, by no means, make you question your intelligence or capabilities. 
  • Research on brain plasticity showed that the connection between neurons evolves according to your experience. Hence failure helps you learn quicker.   
  • A fixed mindset prevents from moving forward, making progress and learning. It creates a vicious circle. In Carol Dweck’s studies, students that judged or doubted their intelligence in case of a failure said that they would be willing to cheat next time they’d take an exam, instead of studying more and keep learning. 

How To Use The Growth Mindset At Work?

When you find yourself in a complex situation that you don’t know how to solve, don’t forget that you are in the middle of your learning process. Don’t be too hard on yourself, don’t doubt your abilities. Know that the solution you’ll find might not be ideal but next time you’re confronted with similar circumstances, you’ll find a better one. Then, try to think about your “failure” to learn from it and develop techniques to improve your response. You’ll have the opportunity at the same time to work on your reflexivity.

A Challenge To Develop Your Growth Mindset

Adopting a growth mindset increases your motivation in your daily life and helps you develop your abilities by transforming your perception of failure. Here’s a challenge to cultivate this mindset:

  • Take some time for yourself (5 minutes will be enough)
  • Remember a specific moment recently when, during a project, you felt insecure and they were some things you didn’t understand 
  • Ask yourself the following questions:
    • When did you realize that you were missing some skills?
    • Have you identified what skills they are?
    • No? Have you looked for help to identify the problem?
    • Yes? Have you taken action to develop them?

If you took this challenge up, you adopted a growth mindset. You’ll quickly see that there are many occasions to practice it everyday. Don’t forget that effort is a learning process, even if you don’t see the results yet. And don’t underestimate your ability to evolve.

Some Tools To Cultivate A Growth Mindset

We recommend that you first watch Carol Dweck’s TED Talk. This professor of psychology at Stanford will tell you everything about the growth mindset concept. 

You can also read The Little Book Of Talent by Daniel Coyle. You will learn how important it is to make mistakes and how you can learn to enjoy challenges.


To know more about Learning Boost and discover more contents like this one, you can fill out our survey to measure your learning agility and create your individual learner’s profile. It will indicate your strengths and areas of improvement.

Learn Assembly is a learning company which mission is to help organizations develop their employees’ employability, in a sound and sustainable manner. As an architect and a builder of learning experiences, we help you gain height and get your hands dirty at the same time to make your projects successful.

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